Saturday evening at Autry Court

After work tonight, I headed down to Rice to catch one of the last games that San Jose State, my dad’s alma mater, will play in Houston. (Rice and San Jose State will no longer be in the same athletic conference after this year.) The Spartan women’s basketball team made it worthwhile, snapping the Owls’ 16-game home winning streak with a 63-52 upset win.

Unlike many Houston sports fans, I like Autry Court. For me, Autry is as good a place to watch a game as Toyota Center—from any seat, you are close to the court and have a clear view, and the place has an old-timey, “Hoosiers” feel to it.

The game was an enjoyable match-up of two teams with very different strengths.

Rice is an inside team, with Lauren Neaves, Valeriya Berezhynska, and Annie Peck skillfully guarding the lanes. If San Jose State scored from the paint during the first half, I missed it.

The Spartans are a shorter, faster team that relies on the guard play of Erica McGlaston and Jessica Kellogg to move the ball around until a perimeter shot opens up.

The two teams were evenly matched during the first half: the five-point lead (28-23) the Spartans took into the locker room matched the largest lead either team had had, and for a stretch of several minutes, every basket scored changed the lead. San Jose State could do nothing inside, but made up for it by hitting shots from 15 feet and beyond and stealing the ball on practically every other Owl trip down the floor.

The second half was very different. The Spartans scored two quick baskets to start the half, and Rice never threatened again. San Jose State started to attack effectively inside, especially in the last several minutes, when Rice coach Cristy McKinney pulled her tall forwards from the game, I presume in order to get more speed on the floor. The gamble backfired badly, in the way that pulling the goalie in hockey often does. The game would have turned into a blowout if San Jose State hadn’t missed so many free throws and wide open shots while the smaller forwards were in.

All in all, a good game with a pleasant ending.

Two side notes:

1. The Basketball Owl Band (BOB) got bonus points for playing “Because, It’s Midnite” by Limozeen during pre-game. They then lost the bonus points by playing “Star Spangled Banner” in several different keys at once (you would think they would have that one well-practiced by now…).

2. The Rice dance team needs to do what the Marching Owl Band does: Have clever fun with the concept of what they’re doing rather than doing it straight and boring people. (No, I’m not sure either how a dance team could send up the concept of a dance team, but they’re Rice students—they’ll figure it out.)

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2 Responses to “Saturday evening at Autry Court”

  1. kevin whited Says:

    Have they upgraded the floor?

    I hear Willis Wilson used to lose recruits over that rock hard floor, but I thought I heard something about an upgrade….

  2. Steve Says:

    Kevin: Yes, about three years ago. And the seats were recently upgraded, too, which was welcome!

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