Rice Women’s basketball continued their undefeated conference march, pulling away from North Texas in the second round of the Conference USA Tournament.
A week removed from their final game of the regular season, Rice came out a bit rusty in their CUSA Tournament Second Round game. North Texas hung around for the first half, but the outcome was never really in doubt as the 1-Seed Rice held serve in their first game of the CUSA Tournament.
Any thoughts of an upset by the 9-Seed North Texas were rooted in eight first half turnovers from Rice. Those eight giveaways led to eight points for North Texas and were a large reason the 30-22 halftime advantage wasn’t weighted more heavily in the Owls’ favor.
As the offense slowly clicked into gear the physical presence of Nancy Mulkey on both sides of the court kept the Owls’ opponents from getting into any semblance of a rhythm. She led the Owls with 20 points and six blocks, knocking down all six of her free throws. When she was on the court, North Texas didn’t have an answer.
CUSA Player of the Year Erica Ogwumike commanded the offense efficiently. She had 15 points, highlighted by a few bold cuts to the basket for quick points. Her 10 rebounds netted her another double-double, her eighth in the Owls’ last 10 games.
Rice stretched an eight-point halftime lead to as many as 21, edging North Texas in all four quarters on their way to a 61-43 victory. This was the sixth consecutive game in which Rice held their opponents below 50 points.
It wasn’t the most inspiring game Rice has played to this point, but even with the slow start this team never looked fazed or worried. Defeating any one opponent three times in a single season is a chore. Rice answered the challenge with a quiet confidence. With the win, the Owls are one step closer to a CUSA Tournament Title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Up Next (Bracket)
Next Rice will play Western Kentucky who beat Old 74-60 in Wednesday’s early game on Court B. Rice beat Western Kentucky comfortably on the road, winning 68-46.