The biggest game of the Rice women’s basketball season went to overtime before Old Dominion prevailed, snapping the Owls’ 30-game conference winning streak.
Rice women’s basketball knew they were in for a 40-minute slugfest when they stepped onto the court to face Old Dominion on Thursday. The Monarchs weren’t intimidated by the Owls’ 30-game Conference USA winning streak. That was evident from the start.
Old Dominion was aggressive. Errant Rice passes were turned into Old Dominion fastbreak points. Missed Rice free throws — they were a woeful 12-of-22 from the charity stripe — became momentum-shifting plays in favor of the home squad.
Most teams have opted to tread cautiously when matching up with the defending champs. Old Dominion attacked, capitalizing on lapses and forcing the Owls to play from behind for much of the contest. Rice trailed for more than 30 minutes. The third quarter, which has been the hallmark of the Owls’ dominance this year, left Rice trailing entering the fourth.
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While the Owls relied on Ogwumike to do the heavy lifting, Old Dominion provided one of the most balanced showings the Owls have seen this year. Ajah Wayne, Taylor Edwards and Amari Young all finished in double-figure scoring. Marie Reichert was just shy with eight points.
One game does not define a season. Win or lose, Rice women’s basketball was still going to play Old Dominion again before the regular season ended. If Thursday night was any indication, these two teams might be meeting again in the conference tournament. It took overtime to separate these two teams. Old Dominion had the edge this time.
A 30-game winning streak in conference play is unprecedented. It had to end at some point — all streaks do — but this result should not diminish any faith in this team. Their first C-USA loss since 2018 is proof the Owls’ know what it takes.
There’s no more pressure to be perfect. The Owls’ aren’t in the driver’s seat right now, but they’re still equipped to win the conference and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. That’s the goal. If anything, Thursday’s loss should add to the Owls’ intensity down the stretch.
FINAL BOX | Old Dominion 66 – Rice 59 pic.twitter.com/ZM8y1XhkQn
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 14, 2020
Player of the Game – Erica Ogwumike
This was the Erica Ogwumike show. Coming off an NCBWA Player of the Week selection, the Owls’ senior leader played an incredible game in a hostile environment. Rice played a thin lineup, trusting Ogwumike to carry the load — she delivered with 26 points, 18 rebounds. She needed someone else to step up, but that help came up just short.
Rice women’s basketball wraps up the road trip on Saturday. They’ll head to Charlotte for a 3:00 p.m. game. That game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+.