Rice women’s basketball is three games over .500 in January for the first time since 2014 and has one of the better records in Conference USA. The Owls, however, have yet to win a conference game. They have started the conference season 0-4 after going 9-2 in nonconference play.
Despite the difficult start, head coach Tina Langley said she is not discouraged.
“It’s all a process,” Langley said. “It’s not about wins and losses for us. We just want to grow and improve each day.”
Although Langley is not looking closely at wins and losses, the team has already equaled its win total from last year. So far this season, the Owls have a plus-9.5 point differential. While the foes have not always been formidable, it is seldom easy to win by double digits against any team.
One major bright spot this year has been senior forward Jasmine Goodwine. In the Owls’ most recent game, a 62-61 loss at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, she put up 28 points and 10 rebounds. She also scored her 1,000th point as an Owl in the game. On the season, the senior is averaging 11.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in a team-leading 31.6 minutes per game. Langley said Goodwine has put in a great deal of work to perform at this level.
“[Goodwine] has been phenomenal,” Langley said. “She’s spent a lot of time in film and doing extra work, and she just continues to improve. Her work ethic and attitude are tremendous.”
The team is making progress as well. One stat that stands out is assists. Rice has 237 assists this season and puts up nearly five more assists per game than its opponents. According to Langley, the Owls have focused on passing early in the year.
“Ball movement has been a big key for us early in the season,” Langley said. “We’re at our best when we make the extra pass and try to get the best shot available. Our team is learning to recognize when there’s a better opportunity present, and making the best possible decision.”
Despite the strides the team has made, Langley said she recognizes the team must still improve in other areas.
“Valuing possessions and rebounding are areas of emphasis for us right now,” Langley said. “When we value the ball and crash the boards, good things happen.”
Rice could be due to improve thanks in large part to its schedule. In all, Rice’s first four opponents of the conference season have gone 10-4 in conference play. Two of the Owls’ opponents, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, are undefeated in Conference USA.
Rice will attempt to improve throughout the rest of the season leading up to the conference tournament. The Owls will have a chance to earn their first conference win this Saturday, Jan. 14 at 3 p.m. on the road at the University of North Texas.