MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Houston women's basketball team trailed by just two points at halftime but was plagued by an icy shooting performance in the second half en route to a 64-50 loss to Rice in the opening round of the Conference USA Championship, Wednesday night at Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
Senior guard Roxana Button tallied 19 points in her final contest as a Cougar, going 7-of-16 from the field and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line. Button scored in double figures in 26 of 29 games this season and ended the year averaging a league-best 17.8 points per game.
Freshman forward Amanda Lawson barely missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds while Voché Martin added six points and six rebounds and Danielle Parks grabbed a career-best nine boards.
The Cougars trailed by 10 points at 22-12 after Rice's Jessica Goswitz connected on her third 3-pointer in the opening 11 minutes of the contest before Houston mounted an 18-7 run to take the lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Button was instrumental in the run, accounting for nine of the 18 points, including a long two-pointer to bring the Cougars within a point with 3:01 left to play.
Jennifer Nwokedi followed with a layup at the 1:49 mark to give the Cougars their only lead of the contest and Houston would go to the locker room trailing by only two points.
The Cougars shot 56 percent (15-of-27) from the field in the first half but would go nearly eight minutes without a field goal to open the second frame as Rice pulled out to a 46-34 advantage.
Jessica Kuster of Rice tallied the Owls' first 11 points of the second half for a double-digit lead that the Owls would never relinquish.
The Cougars limited Rice to just 30-percent shooting (19-of-63) but failed to connect on a 3-pointer while converting only 10 of 24 free throws.