RUSTON - Louisiana Tech will face its former Western Athletic Conference rival Thursday when the Lady Techsters (4-7) host Rice (7-3) at 7 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center. Tech head coach Chris Long said the Lady Owls will pose a number of challenges to his team, which has won two straight games against Southeastern Conference opponents. "Rice is a very experienced team," Long said. "They are a very good team. They might be the second best team we`ve played so far this year behind only Tennessee. They beat 10th ranked Texas A&M by 13 points (79-66) a few weeks ago." Rice is led by four-year starting center Lauren Neaves, who is averaging 17.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line. Neaves had a monster game in the win over A&M, scoring 20 points and pulling down 20 rebounds. She needs only seven more rebounds to become the program`s all-time leader and needs only 15 to reach the 1,000 rebound plateau. "I think Lauren Neaves is one of the best post players in the country, and one of the best shot blockers I`ve ever seen," Long said. "Rice has a good mix of size and athleticism. They will present problems for us that we haven`t seen this year." In addition to the 6-foot-3-inch Neaves, Rice boasts 6-foor-4 inch Valeriya Berezhynska who is averaging 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a contest. After losing four straight games for the first time in the program`s history, Tech has rebounded with wins over Mississippi State and Alabama as Long`s team is getting it done with defense. In the last five games dating back to a 71-50 loss to 4th ranked Tennessee in late November, Tech has held its opponent to 12.1 points below their scoring average entering the contest. Tech has not allowed an opponent to score over 58 points in its last three games. Offensively, senior forward Ty Moore (13.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and senior guard Shan Moore (12.3 ppg, 38% three-pointers) are leading Louisiana Tech while the Lady Techsters are receiving additional balanced scoring from Eboni Mangum (8.4 ppg), Jo Sneed (7.3 ppg) and Amber Metoyer (6.7 ppg). Tech leads the all-time series against Rice 8-4, including last year`s 79-75 win in the championship game of the 2005 Gene Hackerman Invitational in Houston. The contest can be heard on ESPN 99.3 with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. Tech fans worldwide can also watch the game over the Internet by logging onto www.wac.tv.