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It might be a bit of an exaggeration to describe any Rice sports program as a powerhouse. But to the extent that a Conference USA school can be a powerhouse, the Rice baseball team was one for over two decades. Between 1995 and 2017, the Owls made the NCAA postseason every single year, including a national championship in 2003, and their seven College World Series appearances (all since 1997) are tied for the twentieth most of any program. At the very least, they were the dominant force in their conference, finishing atop the conference standings every year from 1997-2015, with the exception of 2009, when they placed second. Now, only five years removed from the end of that streak, the Owls are coming off of a season where they finished tenth out of C-USA’s 12 teams, failing to qualify even for the C-USA tournament, much less the NCAA postseason.
Owl pitchers had a rough go of it this weekend, as Rice baseball lost four straight games to Louisiana Tech University by a combined total of 29 runs. Ranked No. 16 nationally heading into the weekend, the Bulldogs got to Rice’s pitching staff for 6 runs on Friday night, 7 and 20 runs, respectively, in the two games on Saturday. With the Owls losing the final game of the weekend 13-4 on Sunday afternoon, their conference record dropped to 2-9-1 on the season.
The Rice women’s basketball team, in an impressive showing, cruised to their program’s first WNIT Championship this past weekend. Despite their imminent victory, the question on my mind as the final seconds of the championship game against the University of Mississippi ticked off the clock was less than celebratory: Should the Owls have even been in the tournament in the first place?
Rice volleyball knocked off No. 2 University of Texas on Tuesday night, closing out their regular season with a shocking upset. The win handed Texas their first loss of the season, and capped off an impressive regular season for the 14-4 Owls, who have now won 13 of their last 14 matches. After the match, head coach Genny Volpe said that she was thrilled with the improbable win.
Following a disappointing loss to Middle Tennessee State University in the Conference USA championship game and not being selected for the NCAA March Madness tournament, Rice women’s basketball now faces the age-old question: Where do they go from here?
After barely escaping last night with a win, Rice women’s basketball fell to Middle Tennessee State University in the final seconds of yesterday’s Conference USA tournament championship game. The Owls managed to bring it to within one point during the final minute but ultimately lost the contest 68-65. Head coach Tina Langley congratulated the Blue Raiders program after the game.
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.
Women’s basketball wrapped up their regular season schedule last weekend with a series against the University of North Texas. The Owls started the weekend on the right note, winning the Thursday night game 64-58 to clinch the Conference USA West Division title. The Owls fell to the Mean Green on Saturday afternoon, bringing their record on the season to 16-3. Despite this loss, they still enter the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
Rice baseball lost all three games played against the University of Louisiana this past weekend. After opening the season 2-1 in their series against Houston Baptist University, the Owls traveled to Lafayette, where they were promptly swept by the Rajun’ Cajuns. The Owls fell 7-3 in the Friday night game, and followed that up with 5-3 and 6-3 losses over the weekend, dropping their overall record to 2-4. Head coach Matt Bragga took a somber tone in describing the weekend, pointing to the lack of offensive production as a big reason for his team’s struggles.
The Rice men’s track and field team placed No. 4 overall at the Conference USA Indoor Championships this past weekend. Relying in large part on the “field” half of their name, the Owls owned the medal stand in the pole vault and took home the gold in the weight throw, giving Rice 88 points for the weekend. The Owls were just two points shy of the University of Texas, San Antonio, who placed third.
The Rice baseball team’s 2020 season lasted just over three weeks before the start of the pandemic brought it to a halt, but that was enough time to raise some questions about the team’s direction going forward. In 16 games, as opposed to their originally scheduled 55, the Owls managed just two wins and 14 losses. For a program that is just three years removed from a streak of 26 consecutive winning seasons under former head coach Wayne Graham, last season’s results were alarming.
After a disappointing and shortened 2020 campaign, the Rice baseball team is hoping its plethora of veteran talent can inspire and lead the team in a new direction in 2021. Their season begins on Friday against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. According to junior shortstop Hal Hughes, the depth of this Owls roster will be vital to their success.
Rice soccer concluded their first game of the season on Sunday, beating McNeese State University 2-1 on Holloway Field. The Cowgirls got off to a strong start, finding the back of the net in the first minute of the match. But following the intermission, the Owls were able to score two unanswered goals that propelled them to victory. Head coach Brian Lee said his team recovered well from their initial shaky footing.
Following a hiatus of almost 15 months, the Rice women’s soccer team will start its season tomorrow squaring off against McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Owls will rely on a deep roster, with eight of 11 starters from the 2019 season returning, as they hope to put together a successful 2021 campaign.
It was a good weekend for Rice Tennis, as both the men’s and women’s teams put on strong performances at home this past Sunday. The women breezed past the University of Louisiana 4-0, and the men got the better of Lamar University by a score of 6-1.
During a season with a missed quadruple-doink field goal and a victory over a top-ranked team in the nation, the Rice football season is officially over after a 21-16 loss to the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Finishing with a 2-3 record, the Owls were one win shy of a bowl game bid. The season was defined by its ever-changing schedule, but head coach Mike Bloomgren did not anticipate adding another game to the schedule.
On a cold and gloomy Saturday in Huntington, West Virginia, Rice football came in and delivered a stunning upset to the Marshall University Thundering Herd. Despite being favored by three touchdowns and being ranked No. 15 in the country, the Herd was held in check by an Owl defense that allowed zero points on the afternoon and, with five interceptions, propelled the Owls to a 20-0 victory.
Rice swimming won their first meet of the season last weekend, winning 15 of 21 events over the two-day meet and handing Tulane University a 245-146 loss. This was the final home meet of the season, and the final home meet ever for the seven seniors on the team.
Many of us, especially in these trying times, find ourselves being thankful for the support our family provides us. For sophomore cross country star Grace Forbes, family is everything. Forbes, who became just the third Owl in school history to win the Conference USA Championship Individual Title last weekend, said her family is the driving force behind her success.
The Rice football game against the University of Texas, San Antonio Roadrunners that was originally scheduled for tomorrow, Nov. 7, has been postponed due to COVID-19 related issues within the UTSA program.