Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, July 05, 2022 — Houston, TX

Battle of the Birds: Owls sweep Golden Eagles

Maria Lysaker/Rice Athletics

By Pavithr Goli     2/9/21 9:51pm

The Rice men’s basketball team won both their weekend games against the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. The Owls now have a 12-8 overall record with a 6-6 record against Conference USA teams, ranking No. 4 in the conference’s West Division. 

Redshirt-sophomore forward Riley Abercrombie said the weekend sweep was very important for the team, which was coming off five straight losses. 

“We lost a few games in a row and this was a really big week for us,” Abercrombie said. We knew that we needed to get some big wins, get back on track and build our confidence as we get to the top of our game.”

Owls starting forward Max Fiedler, who made several key plays during the final stretch of Saturday’s win, said he is optimistic for the rest of the season as the team anticipates the return of several key players.

“[Both wins] were really big and, hopefully, next week we will have [junior guard] Chris [Mullins] back and [graduate transfer guard] Tre [Clark] back,” Fiedler said. “We will have the whole squad back for the first time in a long time, it feels like.”

Head coach Scott Pera was very proud of his squad, not only because of their strong weekend performance, but also his team’s overall performance throughout such a precarious and uncertain season.

“We have such a big sense of pride in our guys and this program,” Pera said. “We have seen our share of adversity and we don’t look at it and say that it’s unfair. It is life in a pandemic and we don’t try to make excuses. We just try to get better and better and we have a special group of young men. I am really proud to coach them and proud of how they represent the school.”

One of the attributes that Pera prides his team on is their toughness. Pera has commended the team’s resolve through the season and said he believes that it is a key towards the team’s success not only for this season but for the future of the program.

“Our guys were tough. I thought that’s what they needed to be tough-minded down the stretch and I couldn’t be prouder of what they have done so far,” Pera said. “They are such a terrific group of kids and very skilled basketball players. We have this train on its tracks for years going forward and we are excited.”

A big part of the program’s future is the team’s freshmen. Since many of the team’s older players have missed time due to either injuries or getting COVID-19, a number of freshmen have had the chance to gain valuable playing time. Starting guard and second-leading scorer on the team Travis Evee said that freshmen Cameron Sheffield and Mylyjael Poteat have both been resilient and played invaluable roles for the team down the stretch. 

“It’s really cool to see Cam and Mylyjael stepping up,” Evee said. “There has always been the next man up mentality for this team due to the pandemic and that anytime, someone could be out. They are playing really good and it is good to see the freshmen getting comfortable and showcasing what they can really do.”

Sheffield has gotten plenty of playing time and starting opportunities with several key players out with COVID-19 and injuries. Pera was not short on compliments in his praise for Sheffield.

“Cam [Sheffield] is going to be great for us,” Pera said. “He does a really good job of understanding his role and what his job is. He [also] adds value in the locker room, character, everything that we want and he keeps improving. He does whatever you ask him to do and he has a very bright future.”

The Owls will take on Western Kentucky University, the current leader of the C-USA East Division, on Friday and Saturday.

More from The Rice Thresher

SPORTS 6/13/22 2:41pm
Forbes takes silver at NCAAs

On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.

SPORTS 6/3/22 1:21pm
NCAA T&F prelims see five Owls qualify for championships, Forbes take gold

Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.

SPORTS 5/22/22 10:09pm
Men's team takes third, women's takes fifth at C-USA T&F championships

The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.


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