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Friday, March 24, 2023 — Houston, TX

Red-hot WBB enters conference tourney as No. 3 seed

Katherine Hui / Thresher

By Cadan Hanson     3/7/23 10:59pm

Rice women’s basketball head coach Lindsey Edmond’s goal for the Conference USA tournament is simple.

 “Cut down nets,” Edmonds said.

Last weekend, Edmonds’s Owls swept their final regular season games, defeating Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, conquering the Sunshine State.  According to Edmonds, the Owls are playing their best basketball at the best possible time.

“I’ve talked all season about wanting to be playing our best basketball in March and I think that is exactly what we are doing,” Edmonds said. “We are getting off to great starts in games, we have been continuing to be aggressive even when we have the lead. We have been having a great inside out game which allows for a very balanced attack of scoring, and we have put more of an emphasis on getting defensive stops.”

Edmond’s team enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed. But despite their high seed and first round bye, Edmonds said the team could have been seeded higher.

“I look back at the season and it is hard not to think, ‘man, if we didn’t let that one slip out of our fingers on the road’ or ‘if we didn’t lose that one at home,’ we could have even finished second in the league,” Edmonds said. 

The Owls will face the winner of No. 6 University of Texas at San Antonio and No. 11 Florida Atlantic University on Thursday. During the regular season, the Owls swept FAU and split their matchups with UTSA. Despite her team’s relative success, Edmonds said that she doesn’t want to overlook the first round matchup.

“Tournament time is a new season, and I know from my years of experience that anything goes during this time of year,” Edmonds said. “Yes we were able to beat those teams in the regular season but we have to have a different mindset now, a sharper focus and a mentality of it doesn’t matter who we are facing or what happened during the regular season.”

Looking ahead, if the Owls advance, they will likely have to face off against the top two seeds, No. 2 Western Kentucky University and the top seed Middle Tennessee State University. However, Edmonds said that postseason play is unpredictable and the Owls could pull off an upset.

“Again, it is tournament time and anything can happen,” Edmonds said. “I don’t think that a higher seed guarantees a win, just like a lower seed doesn’t guarantee you to lose.  I want my team going into each game with confidence and knowing that they can play with anyone that we may face.  My message to the team is the same now as it always has been, start fast, play hard and together for 40 minutes, and to never quit.”

A huge factor that could help the Owls go deep into the tournament is the experienced senior class who have been a part of numerous C-USA tournament runs, including a trip to the finals in  2021. Even with the veteran leadership, Edmonds said that it will take the entire team to make it to Saturday.

“I think our whole team needs to step up this week in order to accomplish what we want to do,” Edmonds said. “We haven’t played three days in a row this season so, I think our depth can really help us but everyone needs to bring what they do best to this team. We must bring our A game and leave it all on the floor each day.”

The Owls travel to Frisco, TX, riding a five-game win streak, the strongest consecutive performance since their record breaking 9-0 start in non-conference play.  According to Edmonds, the team is building momentum at just the right time. 

“I think it gives our young ladies a lot of confidence knowing that we have won five straight,” Edmonds said.  “It feels like we are really clicking as a team and playing great basketball right now and that momentum going into the tourney is huge.”

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