Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, September 21, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Basketball seeks return to winning ways against UNT

Courtesy Juan DeLeon

By Ben Baker-Katz     2/18/20 9:31pm

Rice women’s basketball will aim to get back into the win column when the team faces the University of North Texas at home on Thursday. Rice has lost two games in a row to Conference USA opponents: Old Dominion University and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Previously, the Owls had won 11 straight games, all against C-USA opponents.  

According to junior center Kendall Ellig, the team is not fully satisfied with its recent performances.

“There are ebbs and flows to a season,” Ellig said. “Obviously we would have liked the ending to be a little different, but I think it just gives us some really clear ideas of what we need to work on to get better.”

Against Old Dominion, Rice senior guard Erica Ogwumike led the team with 26 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Junior center Nancy Mulkey added nine points and eight rebounds. But the Monarchs were able to open the overtime period with seven straight points, and the Owls were unable to make up the difference before time expired.

Against Charlotte, the Owls were unable to get anything going on offense, shooting just 29 percent from the field. They were able to keep the game close with their defense, but Charlotte was able to break through in the third quarter with a 16-6 run that gave them the lead and eventually the game. Schwartz said the Owls lost their groove near the end.

“I think it was more of our misses and our lack of execution during plays,” Schwartz said. “We just didn’t really play our game.”

Despite their recent losses, the Owls are still in excellent standing in C-USA. They are 11-2 in conference play and just one game behind Old Dominion with five games remaining in the regular season. The Owls will face Old Dominion again in Rice’s season finale, this time at Tudor Fieldhouse. According to Langley, the fact that Rice will face the Monarchs at home is important. 

“We had five away games over our last seven [games]; that’s pretty intense,” Langley said. “I think being in front of our crowd again, and having the comfort of our own facility, is always nice. It will help us get back to kinda doing things the way we do them.”

To start getting back on track, Rice will prepare for a North Texas team they beat 67-52 earlier this month. Besides winning handily, the Owls were also able to hold the Mean Green to just one made three-pointer on 10 attempts, which Ellig said was crucial to the win.

“[North Texas] is a better shooting team than they have been in the past, so it’s going to be important for us to protect the three-point line like we did last game,” Ellig said. “Aside from that, we just have to continue to grow on offense and be creative, and that will put us in a good position to win.” 

Rice has excelled on defense this season, allowing just 56.5 points per game, good for No. 25 in the nation. The Owls have also kept opponents shooting just 35.5 percent from the field, and 26.8 percent from three-point range. According to Schwartz, the Owls are in a good spot moving forward. 

“We all see that we have lots of games left to play, and we have a lot of room to grow,” Schwartz said. “We have to be ourselves [against North Texas] and grow from last week. Like Coach always says, ‘the next game is the biggest game.’ So we’re just focused on what we have to do to be our best and win the next game.”

The Owls will face off against North Texas at Tudor Fieldhouse on Thursday, with tipoff at 7 p.m.

More from The Rice Thresher

SPORTS 9/15/20 9:23pm
Football freshmen adjust to student-athlete life

With numerous college football programs across the nation starting their season this past weekend, there has been an increased focus on freshmen football players who are transitioning to the rigor and toughness of college football while also trying to navigate through the precarious situation presented by the coronavirus pandemic.  

SPORTS 9/15/20 9:21pm
Why is football being played if other sports aren’t?

Over the past couple of months, talks about restarting athletic programs have centered on one thing: college football. Even though Rice announced earlier this week that the start of their season would be delayed until Oct. 24, other programs across the country started their seasons this past weekend.  

SPORTS 9/8/20 9:19pm
Rice Football stands up: Players lead march across campus

More than 100 players from the Rice football team marched silently from Rice Stadium to the Aacademic Quad to protest racial injustice on Friday afternoon. While roll was not taken, head coach Mike Bloomgren said he believes that every member of the team and the coaching staff was present. Players spoke in the quad about the importance of effecting positive change, before the march concluded with a moment of silence to honor those killed as a result of racial discrimination. 


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.