The 2021-2022 Rice women’s basketball season is fast approaching. The team will look different this year and they’ll be learning as they go.
The last several months have been what new head coach Lindsay Edmonds dubbed a “whirlwind” for herself and the Rice women’s basketball program, There’s a new staff, what feels like a new roster and now it’s finally time to put everything together on the court.
Aware of the enormity of the challenge, Edmonds seems ready to lean into the adversity. “The expectations are to compete. The expectations are to win,” she said. “I know we lost a lot (of players) but that still doesn’t change who I am and what I’m about, so I still want us to compete in each and every game that we play, give our best, do all the little things and have each other’s back on the court.”
It’s going to take a group effort to achieve those goals. Rice returns one starter from last year’s team, Katelyn Crosthwait, and will rely on a thin roster featuring only 11 players. Incoming freshmen who might normally have been eased into service could be called on as early as opening day.
Edmonds made that clear from the start. “Everybody is going to be on the court. There’s not a lot on the roster so I expect everyone to play this year,” she said.” That likely means fans will need to break out their scorecards and start learning the roster from top to bottom. To help expedite that process, here’s the lay of the land for Rice women’s basketball as the season approaches.
The Coach – Lindsay Edmonds
For the first time in the last six seasons, Rice women’s basketball has a new woman at the helm. Lindsay Edmonds has taken over the head coaching title after Tina Langley departed for Washington. Edmonds had spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant at NC State where she was a part of three Sweet 16 appearances and coached multiple WNBA draft selections.
Last Season Snapshot
Rice women’s basketball made history last season with the program’s first-ever WNIT title. The Owls finished the season with a trophy and a 23-4 record, dropping just two conference games prior to a conference tournament championship game loss to Middle Tennessee, a game that was decided by just three points.
Who will emerge on this rebuilt roster? In addition to losing their head coach, Rice will also be without Nancy Mulkey, Lauren Schwartz, Sydne Wiggins and Jasmine Smith — four of their five starters from last season. That begs the question, who will take the big shot?
“There’s not a lot of players that played in those key and crucial moments in the past.,” Edmonds said. “I need to learn who I can trust in those moments. I need to learn who can handle the pressure of those moments. And I think we can’t figure that out quite yet in practices.”
Rice Women’s Basketball Schedule | Key Games/Dates
Nov. 9, 2021 – Season opener vs St. Edwards at Tudor Fieldhouse
Nov. 20, 2021 – Owls host Oklahoma State
Dec. 19, 2021 – Owls visit Texas A&M
Jan. 1, 2021 – Conference USA home opener vs North Texas
Jan. 6, 2021 – Conference USA first road game at Middle Tennessee
Mar. 8, 2021 – Conference USA Tournament
You can find the complete 2020-2021 Rice women’s basketball schedule here.
Katelyn Crosthwait, Guard (So.)
Crosthwait is one of two captains for Rice women’s basketball this year and the only returning starter. She led Rice with 43 three-pointers last year and started every game for the Owls including their run through the WNIT tournament. She’s a proven rebounder and is the most experienced player on this team. She will be looked to early and often as this young team works to find their rhythm.
Haylee Swayze, Guard (Jr.)
Also a team captain this season, Swayze is expected to make the jump from key reserve to key starter. She was the team’s leading scorer off the bench last season, averaging 6.7 points per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range. She’s played in 80 games across three seasons, making two starts. Her role will increase significantly this season.
Destiny Jackson, Guard (So.)
Part of a very highly regarded 2019 signing class, Jackson was a key piece off the bench for the Owls in each of the last two seasons. She averaged 3.5 points and 3.2 rebounds last season, also creating 1.9 assists per game. She’ll be trusted with the ball in her hands often and could become an important distributor in what is expected to be a much faster-paced offense.
India Bellamy, Forward (So.)
Bellamy averaged 12.3 minutes per game last season, doubling her floor time from her true freshman season. She was able to snag 55 rebounds during that time and will be a trusted post presence for Rice on the court this season. She’s shot 42.2 percent from the field over two seasons with the Owls and is one of a handful of players Edmonds singled out as being in line to “play a lot of minutes.”
Ashlee Austin, Forward (So.)
Austin rounds out the group of players that have meaningful on-court experience for the Owls. She’s a physical forward that is strong with the ball but her Croswthwait was sure to note “she can make quick moves”, praising her versatility. She played 6.3 minutes per game last season, seeing action in 16 contests from the back end of the bench. She’ll be in line for a much larger role this season as well.
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Key names off the bench
Alexis Stover, Forward (Gr.) – The only transfer addition to the Rice women’s basketball roster, Stover comes to South Main from Wright State and brings NCAA Tournament experience.
Arianna McCurry, Center (Jr.) – A reserve center last year who seldom saw the court, her 6-foot-6 size and no Mulkey will likely necessitate more playing time than her 7.4 minutes per game last season.
Maya Bokunewicz, Guard (Fr.) – Bokunewicz redshirted last season. She was praised for her versatility by the previous staff and could play multiple positions for Rice. Finding her niche will be key.
Malia Fisher, Forward (Fr.) – One of three new freshmen on the roster, Fisher is player that Edmonds described as someone with the “ability to do something that makes you go, ‘wow'”
Trinity Gooden, Guard (Fr.) – Another incoming freshman, Edmonds was enamored with Gooden’s toughness and style of play. Both she and Fisher could challenge for starting roles sooner than later.
Robin Whitehead, Guard (Fr.) – A later addition to the roster, Whitehead was a two-year starter at Atoscita where she averaged 14 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.8 steals.