Nicholls St scored the first two points before Rice Women’s Basketball slammed the door in an emphatic season-opening rout at Tudor Fieldhouse.
In many ways, the beginning of the 2019-2020 Rice Women’s basketball season began just as last season had ended. It took less than five minutes of play before Nancy Mulkey had a block and Erica Ogwumike had a basket and bucket. A 2-0 Nicholls St lead evaporated quickly, with Rice outscoring the Colonels 17-6 throughout the remainder of the first quarter.
The Owls used their trademark suffocating defense to make their early double-digit lead feel insurmountable. They held Nicholls St to 27.8 percent shooting from the field in the first half. By half, they’d more than doubled up their opponent.
From there it was clockwork for the Owls, who had already turned quickly to their young bench. Freshmen Lauren Schwartz, Destiny Jackson, Katelyn Crosthwait, India Bellamy, Ashlee Austin and Arianna McCurry made their collegiate debuts, with Schwartz earning a starting nod. Every player on the roster saw action, 12 scored and 12 registered at least one rebound. Rice would go on to win by a final score of 71-41.
“We hoped that we could come out and get out to a good lead and make sure we got an opportunity to see everyone together in different lineups,” head coach Tina Langley said after the game.” It was good to have that opportunity today.”
Player of the Game
Prior to the beginning of the season, Erica Ogwumike was named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award watch list which honors the best shooting guard in the nation. Nancy Mulkey was named to the Lisa Leslie Award watch list, honoring the best center. We knew those two stars were going to shine bright for Rice Women’s Basketball this season. What we didn’t know for sure, was who would step up to join them.
Sophomore guard Haylee Swayzee would like to throw her hat into the ring. Swayze was eighth on the team in minutes played last season, averaging 4.3 points per game with 22 three-pointers. She did much more than that in her first action of the 2019-2020 season. On Tuesday, she knocked down four shots from deep and led the team with 22 points.
“It was really fun,” Swayze said of her big night before pivoting to her supporting cast. “I think we’ve done a really good job of playing together as a team, we’ve really embraced our “Go Together” [motto] this year,”
If the Owls can add some outside shooting to their one-two punch on the interior, this is going to be a very scary team come March.
Rice Women’s Basketball gets one more home game before their first trip away from South Main. They host Arkansas Little Rock on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. It’ll be a double-header for Rice fans. The men play their home opener following the conclusion of the women’s contest at 3:30 p.m.
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