Rice women’s basketball just keeps winning. Their latest pair of wins have put them in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the Conference USA Tournament.
The calendar is quickly approaching February, and Rice Women’s basketball hasn’t lost a single game in 2019. For the Owls, Conference play tipped off on Jan. 3 against Southern Miss. Since then they’ve won seven-straight, compiling the only perfect record in Conference USA. With nearly half of the conference slate complete, Rice 16-3 (7-0) now sits at the top of CUSA in lone possession of first place.
After starting out 0-2, the Owls have thundered out to a 16-1 record over their next 17 games including their current nine-game winning streak. The only program to beat Rice during that time, North Carolina, upset No. 1 Notre Dame this week.
Meanwhile, the team’s most recent games may have been their most impressive performances yet. Rice beat Middle Tennessee and UAB in a pair of road contests. Those two programs had combined to lose three games on their own courts so far this season prior to Rice besting both of them in the span of a few days.
Middle Tennessee entered their game against Rice 15-5 and 6-0 in conference play. They, too, were undefeated in 2019. Rice beat them 60-45 behind a season-best 20 points from center Nancy Mulkey who blocked a school-record eight shots and grabbed seven rebounds.
As usual, Erica Ogwumike came on strong registering a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Rice held Middle Tennessee to 36.2 percent shooting from the field; their 46 points was the fewest they’ve scored in conference play this season.
After snuffing out the Blue Raiders, Rice did the same to UAB. The Blazers scored just 43 points on 28.3 percent shooting. Once more, Mulkey once again had eight blocks and the team combined for 40 rebounds, 10 of which were snared by Mulkey, herself. Nicole Iademarco picked knocked down five field goals, tying with Mulkey for the team lead with 14 points.
Like Middle Tennesse, UAB was never able to get going on offense. The Owls’ suffocating defense has held all of their conference opponents to 54 points or fewer. The offense has averaged 67.9 points per game over that time period.
The Owls have been playing their best basketball of the season so far in 2019. Mulkey was named Conference USA Player of the week for her efforts over the past two games. If the team can maintain their top position through February and into March they’ll secure the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Tournament with eyes set on an NCAA Tournament bid.
Rice has played in the WBI and the WNIT in the past two seasons but hasn’t appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2005. A victory in the Conference USA Tournament would clinch an auto-bid for the school.