HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Maya Hawkins tied her season high with 25 points and led the Rice Owls women’s basketball team to their third postseason victory of 2017 as they eliminated the Idaho Vandals 86-80 Thursday night at Tudor Fieldhouse in the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament.
The Owls (21-13) will host UNC-Greensboro in the WBI championship game Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse with a 4pm tipoff.
Thursday’s match-up was a shootout from the opening tip as the teams combined for 55 three-point attempts and 22 made threes.
Rice saw a double digit lead evaporate near the end of the first half as the Vandals took a four point lead with 1:08 left in the half by going on an 18-3 run with three treys from Taylor Pierce.
The Owls responded with a 5-0 run to close out the half and went into the locker room with a 44-43 lead.
In the second half Rice kept the Vandals at arms length thanks to strong second half performances by Wendy Knight and Hawkins. Knight scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half including eight straight to start the third quarter.
In the final period Idaho’s Mikayla Ferenz scored a lay-in with 1:43 remaining to pull the Vandals to within three at 83-80. Hawkins committed a foul., but Ferenz would miss the ensuing free throw. Rice added a Goodwine bucket with 55 seconds remaining to seal it.
Nicole Iademarco added 17 points and six rebounds to aid in the Owl attack. Ferenz led all scorers with 26 points for the Vandals.
With the win the Owls advance to their first post-season tournament title game in school history.
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio