Rice women’s basketball had its season come to an end on Tuesday night, falling 93-73 at the University of New Mexico in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. The Owls finish the year with a record of 23-10, just one win shy of the program record set in 2004-05.
Rice pulled ahead by as many as five points in the early going, but New Mexico closed the first quarter on a 12-2 run to take a 21-14 lead after the initial period. The Lobos then continued to pile on, outscoring the Owls 20-11 in the second quarter to push its lead to 41-25 at the half. From that point on, Rice never trimmed the deficit below 13 points. The teams traded baskets for the duration of the second half, and the Lobos eventually prevailed by 20.
Despite the loss, sophomore guard Erica Ogwumike put up 31 points on 11-for-19 shooting. The 31 points were the most scored by any Owl this season; she became the first Rice player to score 30 or more points since 2015. She also scored her 557th point of the year, passing former player Pat Krieger for the second-highest scoring season in Rice history.
The Owls came up short of advancing to the WNIT third round for the first time since 1999. After finishing fifth in Conference USA and earning the second most wins in school history, the Owls graduate just one senior, senior guard Wendy Knight. They will add sophomore transfer Nancy Mulkey to their roster for next season, and senior guard Shani Rainey is expected to return from an injury that kept her sidelined for the duration of this year. Rice will also add two freshman recruits, both of whom were nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game earlier this year.