It was another banner night for Rice Women’s Basketball, which defended their spot atop Conference USA, clinching a share of the regular season title.
Rice Women’s Basketball clinched a share of the Conference USA Women’s Basketball regular season title with a Thursday night win over UTEP. The Miners kept things close early before Rice used their seemingly inevitable third quarter surge to put things out of reach and lock down the win at home.
The victory clinched a fourth consecutive season of at least 20 wins for Rice women’s basketball. That’s a testament to the incredible work done by head coach Tina Langley, who earlier this season became the fastest coach in program history to reach 100 wins.
Langley and the Owls aren’t done yet, though. The win over UTEP came in parallel with an Old Dominion loss to UAB in overtime. For the moment, Rice (15-2) holds sole possession of first place in Conference USA and the right to the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. That sets the stage for a winner-take-all contest this weekend between the Owls and the Monarchs.
Old Dominion (14-3) would leapfrog Rice with a win at Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday by nature of the head-to-head tiebreaker. Even with a loss, Rice could fall no further than the No. 2 seed. Since the top four teams in C-USA get byes in the first round and the middle-tier of the conference is fairly robust, the difference between the No. 1 seed and the No. 2 seed might not matter much this year. Still, the optics of being No. 1 carry some relevance.
This season has been flush with highs (Erica Ogwumike’s 2000-point, 1000-rebound plateau, 30th consecutive C-USA win) and lows (Injuries to Ogwumike and Nancy Mulkey, back-to-back C-USA losses, bad start to nonconference play). In the midst of all of the noise, Rice women’s basketball has proved to be resilient. Now it’s time to win when it counts — in March.