Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, July 01, 2022 — Houston, TX

Owls survive Old Dominion, advance to conference final

ricevsodu-0013

Courtesy: Conference USA

By Ben Baker-Katz and Daniel Schrager     3/13/21 10:51am

The women’s basketball team held off Old Dominion University on Friday night to advance to the finals of the Conference USA tournament. Rice held the lead all game, but a late Monarchs comeback tested the Owls, who held on to win by a score of 62-60. According to head coach Tina Langley, the Owls proved their character with such a gritty win in the final seconds.

“Resiliency has been the word for our team all season,” Langley said. “This is a team that has battled through so much this season. This is the most resilient team I’ve ever coached and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Rice jumped out to a large lead early, leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, and maintained their double-digit lead well into the fourth quarter. With just over four minutes left, the Owls led by 11 points, but the Monarchs stormed back with a 10-0 run that closed the gap to one. With under 30 seconds remaining and down by one, ODU missed four consecutive free throws (two from the initial foul, and two from a foul on the ensuing rebound). The Owls managed to pull away from there, with junior guard Haylee Swayze and senior center Nancy Mulkey each making a pair of crucial free throws to put the game just out of reach. According to Langley, the team’s ability to execute with the game on the line, even after Old Dominion staged a comeback, allowed them to secure the victory.



“This is tournament time,” Langley said. “It comes down not only to heart and will, but execution. [Our players] had some big moments in this game that really carried us over, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Mulkey led the way for Rice with 23 points to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks. Sophomore forward Lauren Schwartz added 17 points on seven of 11 from the field, as the two combined for nearly two-thirds of the Owls points. Meanwhile, Rice struggled to find answers for Old Dominion junior guard Ajah Wayne, who had 25 points and 17 rebounds, both game highs.

The Owls will now turn their focus to tomorrow’s final, where they will face Middle Tennessee State University. The Blue Raiders won the C-USA eastern division, and were the other No. 1 seed in this tournament, on the other side of the bracket from the Owls. 

“It’s a new day,” Langley said of the championship game. “I love tournament time because every game is so different.”

The Owls and the Blue Raiders did not meet in the regular season this year. The last time they did meet, in February of 2020, the Owls w handily: 77-60. 

With a win, the Owls will secure a spot in the NCAA tournament, which begins on March 21st. ESPN currently projects the Owls to be a 12 seed, out of the 16 teams in their region. This would mark the second consecutive tournament that the Owls have made dating back to 2019, as last year’s tournament was cancelled at the start of the pandemic.



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.


Comments

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