Rice Women’s Basketball prevailed over HBU in their season opener, providing some familiarity following an offseason of twists and turns.
2020 has been a strange year for all of us, which is why it was so encouraging to see regain some semblance of normalcy on Wednesday afternoon when the Rice Women’s Basketball team tipped off its season. The ever-reliable Owls took care of business against HBU, going on to a fairly comfortable victory before a crowd-less Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice was led by a dominant effort by center Nancy Mulkey and the reliable facilitation of Sydne Wiggins and Jasmine Smith. 10 players saw action for the Owls, who outrebounded the Huskies 54-35 and led for more than 33 of the 40 minutes of action. In a year where so little has made sense, Rice delivered a familiar opening stanza to begin the season 1-0.
Head coach Tina Langley was proud of her team’s efforts. “I think everybody has really been working incredibly hard. From player to player we feel confident that we can put them in and they can give us good minutes right now,” she said.
Mulkey won the opening tip, setting up an easy lay-in for Katelyn Crosthwait. HBU would rally behind some early threes before Rice took the lead on a steal-and-score by sophomore Lauren Schwartz in the second quarter. From that point, it was all Owls who ran away from the Huskies to win by a final score of 83–54. The Owls topped their best point total from last season, an 82-59 win over UTEP.
As good as the Owls were in their opener, Langley knows the best is yet to come. “We still have a lot to learn,” she said, “I can’t wait to see who we’re going to become because you can see their commitment level and the way we’ve been practicing, we’re going to get a lot better all season.”
FINAL BOX | Rice 83 – HBU 54 pic.twitter.com/oWw7yv6S0g
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) November 25, 2020
Player of the Game – Nancy Mulkey
It was a banner day for Mulkey, who delivered an exclamation point on the Owls’ win with her first career three-point shot (and make) in the third quarter. She’d worked on that aspect of her game during the offseason and was ready to take the shot when she finally had her moment.
Coach Langley was happy for Mulkey’s achievement, but said her senior center’s impact goes well beyond that singular attempt. “I think she’s doing a tremendous job of understanding her ability as an offensive weapon for us,” Langley said,”And she can shoot the three. She can take it off balance and she can score in the low post. She can just do so many things well. Nancy Mulkey’s a pro and she’s going to show that this season.”
That shot was one small part of a 23-point, 13-rebound performance — her fourth double-double of her Rice career.
Rice women’s basketball won’t return to Tudor for another two weeks. In the meantime, they’ll travel to Arkansas for a 2 p.m. Saturday game against Little Rock. The short road trip concludes Dec. 2 at UT Arlington, tip off scheduled for 5 p.m. Both games are scheduled to air on ESPN+.
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