Rice women’s basketball picked up where they left in Conference USA Tournament, roaring past FIU to advance to the semifinals.
What ended as another dominant conference win didn’t start that way. Rice women’s basketball found themselves trailing 23-14 at the end of the first quarter in their opening game of the Conference USA Tournament against FIU. The Panthers were fresh off a first-round win over Southern Miss and came out of the gates red-hot.
Head coach Tina Langley didn’t call a time out to settle her squad down. She didn’t hesitate to take Nancy Mulkey out of the game and cycle through the Owls’ rotation. Instead, she stuck to her guns and trusted her experienced team to figure things out.
Over the span of the next quarter and a half, Rice outscored FIU 45-14.
“Resiliency” was the word Langley used in the aftermath of the Owls’ fourth consecutive Conference USA Tournament win. This team doesn’t often get punched in the mouth, but when they do, they respond well. Lauren Schwartz exploded with a career-high 27-point performance. Jasmine Smith and Sydne Wiggins put on a clinic of their own, dishing out 11 of the Owls’ 26 assists, a tournament record.
Rice held FIU to seven points in the third quarter. By the time the Panthers had recovered, it was too late. After shooting 63 percent from the field in the first quarter, FIU would finish the game at a paltry 36 percent. They made 10 shots in the first quarter, but just nine shots in the second half. Once more, the Rice defense slammed the door.
Rice women’s basketball is scheduled to play Old Dominion at 5:30 p.m. Friday on Stadium. The Monarchs advanced to the quarterfinals following upsets of 3-Seed North Texas and 2-Seed Charlotte