By: Kyle Kavanaugh/Louisiana Tech Athletics

RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team responded in a big way at home with a 79-74 win over Rice behind three Techsters in double-figures, including a season-high 26 from Keiunna Walker, who also tied a season-high with seven rebounds. 
Salma Bates and Amaya Brannon added 15 points each. Bates posted five assists with just one turnover.
In a back-and-forth first five minutes, Salma Bates hit a three to give Tech their first lead of the night, 9-8. Rice’s Ashlee Austin would immediately answer on a layup, but that would be Rice’s last bucket of the quarter as Tech finished on an 11-0 run to take a 20-10 lead after one. 
Tech would continue the run into the second quarter with five quick points from Walker to build a 25-10 lead before Rice ended a near seven-minute drought. After Tech built its largest lead of the game, at 16-point (30-17), Rice responded with an 9-3 run over the next 3:30 to cut the lead to seven, 33-26, with 4 minutes remaining in the half, but the Techsters finished the last two minutes of the half plus-one to take a 38-30 lead into the break.

After four quick points for LA Tech to start the third, Rice created a 10-3 stretch to cut Tech’s lead to five, 45-40, but was quickly extended back to 10 with 4:21 left in the third (50-40) off a Gabbie Green three-pointer. 
During a three-minute Techster drought, Rice would cut the lead to just two, but “Buzzer Beater” Bates would finish the quarter on a 5-0 run of her own, including a three as time expired, to push the lead back to five (55-50) after three.
Rice began the final stanza with two made free throws and a layup, but a 7-2 stretch for Tech extended their lead back to eight, 62-54, with 6:25 remaining. 
In the fourth, Rice was held without a basket for over six minutes, but nine Owl free throws during the span kept Rice within striking distance with under three to play, 68-63. 
Rice ended their field goal drought in the final minute with three straight buckets to cut the lead to four, 75-71. Walker pushed the lead back to six with two more free throws, but Rice answered with a three from Austin. An ensuing Rice foul sent Brannon to the line in a three-point game for two shots, who was able to connect on both to ice the game. 
Tech finished the night 26-51 from the field for 51 percent, including a season-high nine made threes on 9-16 shooting (.563). Tech also hit 18-22 from the line, including eight of their final ten down the stretch. 
Rice also shot it well, 42.6 percent of 23-54 and an 8-21 night from three for .381, and had a plus-two advantage from the line going 20-24 (.833). The Owls ended the night with five players in double figures, led by Austin’s team-high 18. 
With the win, Tech is now 2-2 in C-USA play for the second time in three years and sits just two wins in Ruston away from No. 600.