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​Women’s basketball falters in attempt to reach top of Conference USA

Photo by Vidya Giri for the Thresher

By Spencer Moffat     2/20/18 9:29pm

The Rice women’s basketball team lost its second game in a row on Saturday to Middle Tennessee State University, suffering its first losing streak since November.

The Owls started the two-game losing streak with a 70-63 loss to the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Rice entered the contest just one and a half games back of the Blazers for first place in Conference USA.

Had the Owls won, they would have moved into a tie in the loss column for the conference lead. Ultimately, the Owls fell short thanks to UAB’s hot shooting. Rice matched UAB in field goals made but lost the 3-point battle as the Blazers made eight more baskets from beyond the arc.

After the loss in Birmingham against the No. 1 team in the conference, the Owls went on the road to face the No. 5 team, Middle Tennessee. The Owls’ defense did its job, holding the Blue Raiders to 51 points.

However, Rice was unable to match its defensive effort on the offensive side of the ball as it could only muster 41 points of its own. The Blue Raiders took advantage of the Owls’ 19 turnovers, converting them into 23 points on the other end of the floor.

According to head coach Tina Langley, the Owls will use these losses as chances to improve.

“I have confidence we’re going to learn a lot from these games and grow moving forward,” Langley said.

The Owls are now 18-6 on the season and third in C-USA with a conference record of 8-4. The eight wins match last season’s total, when Rice finished 8-10 in conference play. Western Kentucky University leads the conference with a record of 11-2 and UAB is a half game back at 10-2.

Over the past month, the Owls have gone 5-3, all in conference matchups. Two of those wins have been double-digit victories as the Owls defeated the University of Texas, El Paso in a 56-42 victory and Western Kentucky in a 73-58 victory.

On the season, Rice is currently averaging 65.4 points per game while only allowing 57.3 points per game. The Owls are also out-rebounding their opponents with an average of 36.2 rebounds per game. On the other hand, their opponents are averaging 31.9 rebounds per game on the season.

Sophomore guard Erica Ogwumike has led the scoring effort 15 times this season. She has also led the team in rebounding 17 times. Ogwumike is currently leading the team in points per game, with 17.3 while junior Nicole Iademarco is second with 13.1 points per game.

The Owls have just four games left in the regular season before the C-USA Championship begins on Mar. 7 in Frisco, Texas. Three of the those final four games are at home, where Rice is a perfect 10-0 this season.

The Owls will look to get back in the win column as they face Marshall University on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in Tudor Fieldhouse. They will then travel to the University of Texas, San Antonio for their final road game of the season on Feb. 25.

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