The Rice University women’s basketball team entered conference play with a 5-6 record, including a 5-2 record at home. During the non-conference portion of the schedule, Rice competed against two of the top women’s college basketball programs in the nation, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas, Austin. Ranked No. 5 and No. 3 respectively at the time Rice played them, both teams defeated Rice in the non-conference portion of the season.To mark the beginning of conference play, the Owls went on the road for three consecutive games. In the first game, the Owls defeated the University of Texas, San Antonio in overtime with a final score of 62-58. Sophomore guard Maya Hawkins scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the game to earn the first double-double of her career. She was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line and committed just one turnover in 37 minutes of play off the bench. As a whole, the Owls bench outscored UTSA 37-15 over the course of the game. Rice then went on to play the University of Texas, El Paso Jan. 4. Despite another team-leading performance by Hawkins, the Owls could not complete a late second half comeback and lost 54-51. Hawkins scored a team-high 23 points for the Owls, which included three three-pointers. The rest of the offense struggled, as no other Owl scored more than six points in the contest. Senior post player Christal Porter and sophomore post player Adaeze Obinnah tied for the team high in rebounds with nine each. After a five-day layoff, the Owls competed in their final game of the road trip against the University of North Texas. After a slow start from the Owls, the team went on a 15-5 run to close the first half and take a 27-23 lead into the break. With just 4:23 remaining in the game, Rice held a narrow 43-42 lead, but was unable to hold on and lost by a final score of 53-48. Junior forward Megan Palmer led Rice in scoring and rebounding, recording nine points and eight rebounds. Rice committed a season-high 23 turnovers in the game, which UNT turned into 21 points. Hawkins said her recent success should be attributed to her teammates and how they have supported her during her comeback after suffering an injury last year.“My performance at the beginning of conference play was largely due to my teammates,” Hawkins said. “Their encouragement before, during and after my recovery process has helped me to regain my confidence … and I couldn’t have accomplished anything without them.” Hawkins said playing on the road was a challenge, but also said she was proud of the way the team fought. “Playing on the road was very tough, but I was proud of how our team played while away, even though some of the games didn’t go as we would have liked,” Hawkins said. “Our team will be working hard all week long to ensure that we secure these next two games in front of our fans at home.” Head Coach Greg Williams said Hawkins’s return from injury will hopefully spark the team in the games to come. “We are glad to have Maya back on the court,” Williams said. “She adds defensive quickness at the point position and is our most consistent three-point shooter.”Williams said the team needs to prepare for their next two games at home to get the season back on track.“Both [Old Dominion University and Louisiana Tech University] are athletic with most of their scoring coming from their perimeter players,” Williams said. “Every game is different, as are the decisions players make on the floor, [and] we are ready to come out strong on our home court.” Rice returns to action this Thursday, Jan. 15 at Tudor Fieldhouse to face Old Dominion. Old Dominio currnelty boasts an overall record of 8-6, incluidng 1-2 in Conference USA. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 6 p.m.