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Sports


SPORTS 1/14/15 10:39am

Women's basketball opens conference play

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. 


SPORTS 1/14/15 10:38am

Men’s basketball begins conference play with win

The Rice University men’s basketball team opened conference play on Friday, Jan. 2 with a 15-point win over the University of Texas at San Antonio. They then dropped two games to the University of Texas, El Paso and University of North Texas. The Owls are currently 1-2 in conference play and 4-10 overall. Before conference play began, Rice played the University of Texas, Austin, which was ranked No. 10 nationally at the time of the game.Although UT won the game 66-55 with a late run, Head Coach Mike Rhoades said even though they did not win, the game showed them they could compete at a high level.“We really played well,” Rhoades said. “We played well enough to win ... We were right there. We have to keep getting better so we can learn to win games. The Texas game showed us that we can play with a lot of people if we’re on our game, follow the game plan, and play together.”Over the past three conference games, sophomore guard Marcus Jackson has averaged 23 points per game on 60.5 percent shooting from the field. Rhoades said Jackson’s increase in scoring is not the only thing that has changed about Jackson’s game and praised him as an emerging leader in the team.”It’s not even a scoring streak as much as it is [experience],” Rhoades said. “Early in the year, he was really pressuring himself to do everything. All we talked to him about was [playing] better defense — just keep playing better defense and your offense will come. He’s a good player and he’s taking the right shots. What we see is that he’s [taken] a leadership role.”Rhoades said he was proud of the team’s commitment to practice over winter break. “I’m really proud of this team, [mainly] the effort and the approach they’ve had over break,” Rhoades said. “We’ve been [on campus] for a long time just by ourselves and we’ve gotten better and closer as a team. I’m really proud of them. We’ve come up short in some games but we won our first [conference] game against UTSA. I think it was the first time in four years we started off the league with a win. We played well enough to have UTEP on the ropes. The other day against North Texas, we didn’t play very well, … but we found a way to get back in it and almost pull it out.” Rice has road games against Old Dominion University and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte in the upcoming week. The next home game will be on Jan. 22 against the University of Southern Mississippi at 7 p.m.Old Dominion currently has the best record in the conference, going 13-2 over the course of the season, and 2-1 in conference play. UNC-Charlotte is sitting in the middle of the pack with an overall record of 7-8. Old Dominion has the No. 1 scoring defense in C-USA, allowing 55.9 points per game. Converseley, Rice allows an average of 65.4. The game against ODU will tip off on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.


SPORTS 1/14/15 10:36am

Covington to forgo final season for NFL Draft

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Christian Covington has decided to forgo his senior year and declare for the NFL Draft. Covington is a native of Vancouver, Canada and three-year starter for the Owls. He is on track to graduate in May. Covington is projected to be a late round draft pick by CBSSports.com after missing most of the season due to injury. On Nov. 1, he sustained another injury when he dislocated his left kneecap against Florida International University. This injury required surgery and sidelined him for the remainder of the season.  In the seven games he played this season, Covington recorded 20 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks. In his 2013 All-Conference USA season, Covington recorded 59 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and four sacks, including a memorable sack of Texas A&M University quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.  At the time of injury, his timetable for return was six months, which would keep him out of play until April. He projects to be unavailable for the NFL Combine in February and Rice’s Pro Day, which is usually held in March.  The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Covington entered the 2014-15 season as a consensus All-Conference USA selection. Early mock drafts and draft projections expected him to enter the draft after this season. He received some late first round and second round chatter from various draft analysts including CBS Sport’s Dane Bugler, who compared his skill set to that of former Florida State University defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft. After the injury setbacks that he suffered this year, however, his spot in mock drafts has fallen significantly. Draftsite.com projects him as a 5th round pick. He is currently rated the seventh best defensive tackle in the draft by CBS Sports.  Covington asked for an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which issues one of three grades to underclassmen prospects — first- round projection, second-round, or a recommendation to stay in school for another year. According to the Houston Chronicle, Covington received a recommendation to stay in school for another year. The change is part of an effort from the NFL to urge underclassmen to stay in school longer after an all-time high of 98 underclassmen declared for last year’s draft.  In an official statement released by Covington, he thanked the football program, his coaches, friends and teammates for his time at Rice. “I want to thank Rice University and the Rice football program for the honor and privilege of suiting up for the Owls,” Covington said. “My four years at Rice have marked some of the best years of my life, and I am truly blessed to have been able to attend such a prestigious university with amazing people and play with such incredible teammates.” Covington, whose decision to forgo his senior year could cost him a significant difference in his draft selection and rookie contract, said his choice was not easy or taken lightly by him. “The decision for me to leave was not an easy one,” Covington said. “Through the help of a lot of prayer and the help of family, my decision to declare became clear.” For the Rice football team, this means another starting spot to fill for Defensive Coordinator Chris Thurmond, who will lose seven other defensive starters to graduation. According to Thurmond, Covington’s departure will be a setback for the team, but the defense will adjust and prepare for next season with other personnel. “We’ll just continue to move forward,” Thurmond said. “ Any time you lose good players, it is just something that is part of the business and something you have to deal with.” Thurmond, who learned of Covington’s decision in the days following the 30-6 victory over Fresno State University in the Hawai’i Bowl, said he believes that Covington is ready for the challenges of the NFL. “Christian is a talented guy,” Thurmond said. “He has good athletic ability and I’m sure he’ll make a place for himself.” If Covington is selected in the NFL draft, which will be held April 30 through May 2, it will mark the fourth consecutive year that a Rice player is selected. Covington is the first player to leave early for the draft since tight end James Casey in 2009.


SPORTS 1/14/15 10:34am

Vandalism, theft strike club crew team boathouse

This winter break, burglars broke into the Rice Crew team’s boathouse, tagging their boat with graffiti and stealing solar light panels. The vandalism and theft occurred some time between Dec. 24 and Dec. 26. The boathouse is located in the Buffalo Bayou/East End area, a location known for its graffiti culture. This incident of graffiti and theft marks the fourth burglary of the team’s first semester on the Bayou.Coach Mike Matson told ABC13 that professional paint repair costs for the tagged boat could be anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500.The team looks forward to the completion of their new permanent structure, which will have high-tech security features. In the meantime, the team is seeking assistance from the local Houston Police Department, along with support from other rowing teams in the Houston area and the Rice community. Vespoli, manufacturer of the team’s tagged boat, has reached out to the team as well.“It sure is sad that these people are that desperate to be breaking into our boathouse to try to steal what few things we have and even go so far as to vandalize our boats,” Laura Nicholson, a McMurtry College freshman, said. “But in the words of our coaches Mike and David, Rice Crew will continue to push [forward] and rise and rise again through these challenges.”Coach Mike Matson has been a strong voice of support for the team, addressing this issue while keeping the team focused on the future championships. Matson said the burglary will not affect the team’s performance.“This was an unfortunate occurrence, but certainly not a setback,” Matson said. “We learned from the experience and have properly adapted our security working in conjunction with the police. Our focus now shifts to the championship season ahead and sending Rice’s first boat to the SIRA championships in over a decade to proudly represent the Owls.”The team is set to meet with the East End Graffiti Abatement team on Friday to remove the graffiti from their boat.


SPORTS 1/14/15 10:31am

Athletics unveils $31.5 million training facility

The Rice Athletic Department recently announced the proposed construction of a new student athlete development building. The Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center will be located at the north end of Rice Stadium and will cost $31.5 million to build. The 60,000 square-foot building will house a weight room, a home team locker room, staff offices, an auditorium, a football team lounge and areas dedicated to training and sports medicine. These facilities will be available to all Rice student athletes.According to Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard, these renovations will benefit students and coaches on and off the field.“The Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center affords our student athletes and coaches a better environment for training and medical care than we currently offer,” Karlgaard said. “I believe our football players and other athletes will be better prepared and healthier as a result of the new building.”Karlgaard said that these facilities will also help recruitment efforts.“I hope young men and women who seek a world class academic and athletic experience will see this facility as a key component of their skill development,” Karlgaard said. The tarp-covered area that encompasses the north end of the stadium will be demolished to make room for the building. The existing scoreboard will also be removed and will be replaced by a new one that will be on top of the new center.According to Karlgaard, however, these renovations will not reduce seating capacity.“I’m not sure this facility will have a tremendous impact on our fan experience,” Karlgaard said. “We are working towards further renovations that will create an excellent atmosphere for spectators in our stadium.”The Dallas-based architecture firm HKS will be designing the new building. HKS designed Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas and Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts.Donors have pledged the funding necessary for construction, which will begin in early 2015 and will be completed in time for fall 2016.


SPORTS 12/7/14 7:12pm

Football accepts bid to Hawai'i Bowl

The Rice University football team has accepted a bid to play in the 2014 Hawai’i Bowl, according to reports. The Owls (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) will head to Honolulu, Hawaii for their third consecutive bowl appearance, a school record.Rice will take on Fresno State University (6-7), who lost to No. 22 Boise State University on Saturday, Dec. 6, in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game. Junior quarterback Brian Burrell leads the Bulldogs offensively and has thrown for 2,576 yards and 22 touchdowns, good for second in conference. Junior running back Marteze Waller is third in the MWC in rushing, recording 1,292 yards and 11 touchdowns for the season.Fresno State has the No. 101 ranked defensive unit in the country, allowing 32.6 points per game, and has given up at least 20 points in each of their last seven games.The Hawai’i Bowl is scheduled for Christmas Eve (Wednesday, Dec. 24) at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will air nationally on ESPN.


SPORTS 12/3/14 2:44pm

Women's basketball wins three of first five games

The Rice University women’s basketball team began the 2014-15 season by winning three of their first five games, including four of five at home.After an opening day victory over Prairie View A&M University, the Owls lost to Associated Press No. 5 Texas A&M University on the road despite trailing less than 10 points for the majority of the game. Since then, the Owls have won two of their last three games.On Monday, Nov. 24, the Owls defeated Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi with a final score of 59-54. Following the victory, Rice defeated Alcorn State University 61-33 on Friday evening. With the wins, the Owls improved to 3-2 on the season. Ten of the 11 Owls who entered the game against Alcorn State recorded points. Sophomore forward Jasmine Goodwine led the team in scoring with 15 points while junior forward Megan Palmer snagged a season-high 13 rebounds. Rice won the battle of the paint with a 40-18 point margin, thanks in part to a balanced attack of post play and drives to the basket.The offense built an early lead due in part to Rice’s best defensive performance of the season. Rice allowed just seven points to the Lady Braves throughout the entire first half. Alcorn State shot 3-32 from the field (9 percent) and 1-8 from three-point range. The seven points allowed in the first half tied a Rice record, and the 33 points for the game were the sixth-fewest points allowed in school history. With a mix of returning players and new additions to the squad, Head Coach Greg Williams said he was pleased with the balanced attack the offense showed on Friday night. “We feel we are able to play nine or 10 players each game and figure out who is playing well on any given night,” Williams said. “Hopefully as we play more games we can get some more consistency, individually and as a team.” Williams said the team will rely heavily on the play of seniors, especially forward Christal Porter, in order to be successful this season.“We have five seniors, and [we] are counting on them to finish their Rice careers with strong seasons,” Williams said. “Christal [Porter] is our most experienced returning player, and we are hoping she has a breakout year. She has been rebounding well to start the season, and we hope her scoring will follow suit as she is capable of being a double-double performer each game.”Williams said he is also optimistic about the incoming crew of freshman in his arsenal. “Freshman Shani Rainey has started our first five games, so she has made an immediate impact,” Williams said. “Wendy Knight has been solid in practice, and we have a lot of confidence in her.”The Owls next face off against the University of Houston on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. on the road. The Owls will then return to Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 6 to face Stephen F. Austin University before taking a two-week recess for final exams. 


SPORTS 12/3/14 2:44pm

Men’s basketball loses three in Alaska tourny

The Rice University men’s basketball team lost all three games this past weekend in the Great Alaskan Shootout, an annual early-season tournament held in Anchorage, Alaska. In the first match, Rice played Mercer University, who beat No. 2 ranked Duke University in the NCAA Tournament last year. The game went into overtime, with Rice eventually losing 77-71. The next day, Rice lost 76-74 to Washington State University. Rice lost its final game on Saturday, their third in less than 40 hours, to Division II University of Alaska, Anchorage 65-54. Senior forward Seth Gearhart led the team in scoring over the weekend, with 49 points total, including a season-high 22 against aWashington State.Head Coach Mike Rhoades said the team continually got better throughout the tournament but was stunted by fatigue at the end of the week.“The crazy thing about [the tournament] is we got better, we just didn’t get the results we wanted,” Rhoades said. “We played three nights in a row, with our last two games being real quick turn arounds. We didn’t have much left in the tank on the third night. No excuses, we still have to find a way and overcome being tired.”Rhoades also said the team had trouble closing out games.“We just couldn’t put 40 minutes together to pull out a win,” Rhoades said. “That was disappointing. ... This is going to be a process. One thing I can say about our guys is they have a great attitude about it. They know this process is going to take time, but we’re close.”The Owls’ next game is Wednesday, Dec. 3 against Houston Baptist University, followed by a game against St. Edward’s University Saturday, Dec. 6.


SPORTS 12/3/14 2:43pm

Bowl destination difficult to predict despite eligibility

With Rice University’s regular football season in the books, the Owls now await their postseason bowl destination. For the first time in school history, Rice will head to its third consecutive bowl appearance after winning the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl over the Air Force Academy 33-14 and losing last season in the Liberty Bowl to Mississippi State University 44-7.According to NCAA Bowl regulations, a team must earn six wins to become bowl eligible, although it does not ensure a bowl appearance. Seven wins in a season essentially guarantees that a team will earn a bid to a bowl game. With Rice’s seventh victory against the University of Texas, El Paso on Nov. 21, Rice practically guaranteed itself a position to play in a number of possible bowl games.According to postseason bowl procedures, the winner of the Conference USA Championship automatically chooses which C-USA-affiliated bowl game to participate in. This season, Marshall University and Louisiana Tech University will play for that right in the C-USA Championship Game in Huntington, West Virginia on Saturday, Dec. 6. C-USA is one of the only conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision that does not have a pecking order for bowl games. Typically, teams are assigned to bowl games depending on their final rankings within their conference. For C-USA, however, bowl-eligible teams (programs with six or more wins) must wait for an invitation from each bowl’s representatives and accept or decline the invitation. Each of the bowls will typically offer invitations to the schools that they believe will bring in the most revenue via ticket sales and television deals. Therefore, larger schools will usually receive invites from more prestigious bowls over smaller programs, even if they have fewer wins, because of their larger fan bases that are often willing to travel to bowl games.C-USA has five primary bowl tie-ins: the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl, the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, and is secondarily affiliated with the Duck Commander Independence Bowl. The Boca Raton and Bahamas Bowls are both in their inaugural seasons, and this is the first year the New Mexico Bowl has been affiliated with C-USA.For Rice, any of those bowl games are possible destinations, although some think certain bowls are more likely than others. Rice football beat writer Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle said he believes Rice’s most likely bowl destinations are the New Mexico or the Hawai’i Bowls. According to Phil Steele, a college football pundit with the most accurate bowl predictions for the past 16 years, Rice will most likely head to the Hawaii Bowl to face Fresno State University on Dec. 24.  The article originally stated that the winner of Conference USA could choose the Liberty Bowl, which is no longer accurate as of 2014. Furthermore, the Independence Bowl is only secondarily affiliated with C-USA.


SPORTS 12/3/14 2:42pm

Not Your Average Joe: Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard hopes for big payoff from four-point athletics initiative

When he came to Rice University in the summer of 2013, Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard knew the limitations he had to work with. Having worked in the athletic departments at Stanford University and Oberlin College, Karlgaard knows what it takes to run an athletic department at a school that values academics as its first priority.Karlgaard said Rice was an appealing destination to him due to the school’s emphasis on academics as well as the potential to increase the visibility of the athletic programs.“What brought me here was the academic profile first and foremost and the fact that Rice has a long and very storied history of competing at a high level in Division 1 athletics,” Karlgaard said. “Those two things together coupled with the idea that athletics is a little undervalued and that we could be a bit better than we are now — all of those things in equal amounts drew me to the program.”Karlgaard released a new “Vision for Rice Athletics” this past summer. Upon being hired from Stanford where he was an assistant athletic director, Karlgaard came to Rice as the university’s new athletic director in September 2013. Since coming to Rice, Karlgaard has made his goals for the program publicly clear. In his “Vision for Rice Athletics,” Karlgaard listed four principles that he hopes will drive the future of Rice Athletics. First, Karlgaard said he wants Rice to have athletic competitiveness. That is, all 16 varsity sports should compete for conference championships and national Top 25 rankings. Second, there should be an emphasis on academic success. According to Karlgaard, Rice student-athletes should graduate at or above the Rice average percentage.The third principle is life education and achievement. According to Karlgaard, this will work to prepare student-athletes for life after collegiate athletics.The fourth and final component of the Vision is what Karlgaard refers to as “Rice Values.” This will consist of having the athletic department’s goals remain consistent with the goals of the university and the “Vision for the Second Century” outlined by President David Leebron.According to Karlgaard, he has spent his first year acquainting himself with Rice students, student-athletes, alumni and fans to gauge interest and get ideas on how to move the athletic department forward. Karlgaard said while he had goals coming into Rice, he wants to make sure his actions reflect the interests of the Rice community.“I had one overarching original goal, and that was to make the place better,” Karlgaard said. “But I didn’t quite have a feel of how to do that and what would be important to our community and people in the surrounding community.”According to Karlgaard, his plan on gauging the interest of the Rice community has lasted longer than he originally anticipated.“I thought I’d spend 90 days going around talking to people, finding out what was important to them, testing things then synthesizing that information,” Karlgaard said. “It turns out, it took way longer than 90 days. I wanted to make sure I got it as right as I could get it.”According to Karlgaard, talking to people in the Rice community has increased belief in the future of athletics.“I think there’s a healthy sense of optimism around Rice,” Karlgaard said. “People believe in the vision we have for Rice athletics, and people believe things can get better.”With Karlgaard’s Vision in place, the Rice athletic department will be looking to conduct fundraising and employ new economic strategies to help programs succeed. Karlgaard said his goals include generating revenue, which will in turn help programs achieve athletic success.“My main goals include putting new facilities and endowments in place, selling more tickets, arming coaches with the tools they need to be successful and developing better relationships with our students athletes,” Karlgaard said.With such a small student body and alumni base, Karlgaard said raising funds for athletics can be a challenge. However, Karlgaard said he embraces the challenge and believes he can achieve his goals.“I think it’s challenging to try and fund what we do given our size,” Karlgaard said. “If you’re at a large state institution, you’re the beneficiary of tax dollars and student fees. However, when we’re out raising money from our alumni, we only have around 45,000 living alumni. In order to raise enough funds, we have to think about how we sell Rice athletics to other people in the Houston community. The funding issue is not insurmountable, but it’s challenging.”Despite the challenges of fundraising, Karlgaard has extensive experience in the field. At Stanford, Karlgaard was responsible for balancing a $90 million annual budget and led the Athletics Department’s efforts in raising $52 million in 2012, the greatest single-year increase in the school’s fundraising history.One of Karlgaard’s primary concerns for the near future is the renovation of Rice Stadium, a 64-year old facility that has not had improvements in decades. The plan for renovation includes a $30 million dollar project that calls for a new North end zone facility that will replace the otherwise empty endzone and scoreboard on that side of the field, in addition to other minor improvements. The design calls for a 60,000 square foot facility in the end zone that will attract recruits and fans.Karlgaard said the fundraising for the project is almost complete.“We are 85 to 90 percent through fundraising with this,” Karlgaard said. “We just have a few verbal commitments we need to button up.”Other tangible accomplishments during Karlgaard’s tenure include the hiring of new men’s basketball Head Coach Mike Rhoades from Virginia Commonwealth University and generating a new five-year contract for head football coach David Bailiff. Rice has also claimed six conference titles during Karlgaard’s tenure. Last academic year, Rice won five conference titles, a school record. This year, Rice has already claimed a conference title in soccer after winning the Conference USA Tournament. According to Karlgaard, the end goal is to have athletic programs that are competitive on the local and national stages. Karlgaard said he believes that goal is attainable in the near future.“Everyone has a chance to win the conference,” Karlgaard said. “We won five conference titles last year and I think we have a chance to win five more. We are a relevant player on the national level; we want to be in a conversation with our peer institutions both regionally and academically.” 


SPORTS 12/3/14 2:40pm

Louisiana Tech reels of 42 unanswered in win

The Rice University football team (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) had its worst defensive outing of the season against Louisiana Tech University on Saturday, Nov. 29, losing 76-31 in a game that decided the victor of the Conference USA West Division.The Owls struck first in the game on a field goal from senior kicker James Hairston on their first offensive drive but would not hold a lead for the remainder of the game. Louisiana Tech went on to score three touchdowns in the first quarter and added another in the second. The game went to halftime with Louisiana Tech up 28-17.Despite narrowing the lead to 28-24 early in the second half, Louisiana Tech scored 42 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters to give the Bulldogs their season-high score, while also giving Rice its third-worst defensive performance in school history and the worst since surrendering 77 points to Louisiana State University in 1977.Louisiana Tech recorded 677 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs had three receivers — junior Paul Turner (122), sophomore Trent Taylor (120) and freshman Carlos Henderson (114) — record at least 100 yards receiving on the day. Junior running back Kenneth Dixon finished with 137 rushing yards and three touchdowns.The Rice defense allowed multiple big plays, allowing touchdowns of 72, 35, 31, 58 and 35 yards.Junior quarterback Driphus Jackson had his best statistical day of the season in the loss. Jackson completed 25 of 40 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns, along with three interceptions. Jackson now has 2,524 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season.Senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor had 10 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, and senior wide receiver Mario Hull added a pair of touchdowns for the Owls. Rice recorded only 34 yards rushing on the day, one-fifth of the season average of 170 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard led the rushing attack, and had 19 and 16 yards rushing, respectively. The rest of the team combined for -1 yard.Rice must now wait to find out its bowl destination. Possible bowl games are the Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Hawaii Bowl and the Boca Raton Bowl, among others. Rice has had three consecutive winning seasons for the first time in school history and will be going to its third straight bowl game.


SPORTS 11/29/14 1:07pm

Football loses final regular season game

The Rice University football team (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) had its worst defensive outing of the season on Saturday, Nov. 29, losing to Louisiana Tech University 76-31 in a game that decided the victor of the Conference USA West Division.


SPORTS 11/25/14 10:18am

Volleyball ends season in conference final

Last weekend, the Rice University volleyball team (23-10, 11-5 C-USA) lost in the final round of the Conference USA tournament in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In Friday’s quarterfinal match, the fourth-seeded Owls swept Marshall University 3-0 behind sophomore setter Chelsey Harris’s 15 kills and sophomore setter Sara Blasier’s 41 assists. The next day, the Owls took on the tournament’s top seed, the University of Texas, San Antonio. The Owls, who had lost in both regular season matches against UTSA, began the game strong and never lost a set. With a 3-0 sweep of the Roadrunners, the Owls advanced to the C-USA Championship for the first time since 2009. The championship match against the tournament’s second seed saw the Owls lose to Western Kentucky University (30-5, C-USA 15-1). After trading the first four sets, the Owls took a 13-11 lead in the final set. However, WKU capitalized on Rice’s errors and managed to pull ahead 14-13. After a kill by senior middle blocker Jillian Humphrey off an assist from  Blasier, the score once again was tied at 15-15. However, WKU scored three of the final points and won the set 18-16. WKU, led by  tournament MVP Heather Boyan, now advances to the NCAA Tournament held in Oklahoma City. Despite the tournament loss, many Owls earned individual accolades over the weekend. Harris and senior defensive specialist Daniela Arenas were named to the All-Tournament team for their performances in the conference tournament. Humphrey was named to the All Conference-USA first team, while sophomores outside hitter Leah Mikesky, Harris and Blasier were all named to the second team. Freshman middle blocker Portia Okafor was named to the All-Freshman C-USA team. 


SPORTS 11/25/14 8:34am

Marshall snaps football's win streak at six games

The Rice University football team (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) lost to Conference USA leader and Associated Press No. 18 Marshall University 41-14 on Saturday, Nov. 15.The loss marked the first for the Owls since a 45-42 loss against Old Dominion University on Sept. 20. Rice won six consecutive games prior to losing to Marshall, including four conference matchups.Rice fell behind early in the game, going down 3-0 at the end of the first quarter and 20-7 at the end of the half. Marshall added two more touchdowns in the third quarter and an additional in the fourth. Rice scored its second touchdown of the game with 5:16 in the game on a 10-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Darik Dillard to finalize the score at 41-14. Rice recorded a season-low 180 yards on offense with 99 yards passing and 81 on the ground. Junior quarterback Driphus Jackson completed 11 of 23 passes for 99 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Sophomore running back Jowan Davis rushed the ball 19 times for 76 yards and a touchdown, while Dillard added 24 yards and a score. Senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor contributed the bulk of the receiving yards, catching nine passes for 88 yards on the day. With the receptions, Taylor moved past David Houser and James Casey for fourth on the program’s career receptions list with 158 catches.Marshall’s offense recorded 581 total yards. Marshall senior quarterback Rakeem Cato completed 23 of 37 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns on his way to passing Chad Pennington for the school’s all-time passing touchdown record. Junior running back Devon Johnson also gained 199 yards on 27 carries for a 7.4 yards per carry average and a touchdown.With the loss, Rice is now 6-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play. In order to win the C-USA West Division and earn a rematch against Marshall in the Conference Championship, Rice needs to win the two remaining games and Louisiana Tech University must lose to Old Dominion next weekend. If Louisiana Tech loses to Old Dominion, and Rice defeats the University of Texas, El Paso next week, the Rice versus Louisiana Tech game on Nov. 29 will determine who gets to go up against Marshall in the championship game. If Rice loses or Louisiana Tech wins, however, Rice will be eliminated from contention for the C-USA title.Rice will play its next game against UTEP at home on Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. UTEP currently shares the same record as Rice at 6-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play. UTEP has the No. 26 rushing offense in the country, averaging just shy of 225 yards per game on the ground. Conversely, the Miners have the No. 121 passing offense in the nation, averaging just over 141 yards per game. The Miners’ rushing attack is led by sophomore running back Aaron Jones, who has 1063 yards to go with 10 touchdowns on the year. Marshall’s quarterback, senior Jameill Showers, has 1417 yards passing to go with 11 touchdowns. Showers has also rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns on the year.The matchup will be the first of the season to not be held on a Saturday and will be the first night game at Rice Stadium this year. It will also be the last home game of the season and will mark the final time the seniors play in Rice Stadium. 


SPORTS 11/25/14 8:33am

Women's basketball wins season home opener

Rice University women’s basketball opened its 2014-15 season at home on Friday, Nov. 14. Rice faced off against Prairie View A&M University (0-1), and bested the Panthers with a final score of 70-58. Rice is now 1-0 on the season, 12-3 all-time against Prairie View and 29-8 all-time in season openers.Sophomore forward Jasmine Goodwine and freshman guard Shani Rainey led the Owls in points, with 22 and 21 points, respectively. The underclassmen pair combined to score 43 of the Owls’ 70 points in the game. Goodwine also garnered a career-high 10 rebounds, marking the first double-double of her career. Rainey followed Goodwine with 21 points and eight rebounds in her first game of collegiate basketball. Rainey also chipped in four assists during her 32 minutes of play.Veteran upperclassmen, including senior post player Christal Porter and senior guards Reem Moussa and Nakachi Maduka, also contributed to Friday’s win. Porter pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds in 30 minutes of play, while Moussa managed to rack up nine points, six rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes of play, and Maduka earned eight points and two rebounds in 26 minutes of play.The Owls will next travel to College Station to face off against the Associated Press No. 5 Texas A&M University on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. The Aggies are 4-0 on the season and coming off a victory in the Maggie Dixon Classic Tournament in Chicago, Illinois.


SPORTS 11/25/14 8:32am

Soccer ends season with loss in first round of NCAAs

The Rice University women’s soccer season officially ended following a 3-0 loss to the University of Texas, Austin in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Rice, the longest since the 2003 season. Rice finished the season with an overall record of 14-4-3, tying a school record for wins in a season.The Owls clinched the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament on Nov. 9 by defeating the University of North Texas in the Conference USA Championship game. The 2014 Owls received numerous C-USA individual accolades, including Coach of the Year (Nicky Adams), Offensive Player of the Year (junior forward Lauren Hughes) and Midfielder of the Year (senior Quinny Truong). Rice will lose four seniors to graduation, all of whom were starters for this year’s team: goalkeeper Amy Czyz, defender Ashton Geisendorff, and midfielders Quinny Truong and Gabriella Iribarne. On Friday, Nov. 14, the Owls played the hosting UT Longhorns for an opportunity to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Owls went into the game without the leading goal-scorer in C-USA, Hughes, due to a lower leg injury she sustained earlier in the week. In the first NCAA tournament game for Rice since the 2005 season, the Owls had a hard time garnering any momentum. UT scored the initial goal in the 29th minute of the match. After two deflections, UT shot the ball into the bottom right corner of the net for the first goal scored against the Owls in over four matches. The Longhorns tacked on two more goals in the second half. UT’s Olivia Brook scored the second goal in the 48th minute off a long and fast-paced cross into the box. A high strike from 30 yards out in the 66th minute put the Longhorns up 3-0. The Owls spent most of the half on the defensive side of the ball and recorded just one shot. Adams said the team needs to reflect on the successful season and look ahead to the future of Rice soccer despite the loss. “[I’m] obviously disappointed in the way we played today,” Adams said. “I thought there were spurts where we had some really good opportunities … [but] overall I’m really pleased with the season we had. We’re creating a standard here and an expectation that we want to continue.” According to Adams, Hughes’ injury was a major setback. “Lauren Hughes is arguably one of the best players on our team, and what she provides in the final third for us is something very special,” Adams said. “We’re glad we get her for [her] senior season. Iribarne replaced Hughes as the starting forward for the match. Iribarne said, despite the loss, just making it to the tournament can be viewed as a success for the season. “At the beginning of the season, we got together as a team, and one of our goals was to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Iribarne said. “[Making the NCAA tournament] has been a huge success for us. Coming out here to play a big-time team … was a great opportunity, and I think it’s now an expectation for us.” Czyz also played in her final match of her historic Rice career on Friday night. Czyz, the school record-holder for career shutouts (28) and career wins (41), said she guarantees that Rice will be back in the NCAA tournament. “In the grand scheme of the season, we’ve talked about being the best in Rice history,” Czyz said. “We didn’t show as good as we could, and that’s unfortunate … [but] I promise you this won’t be the last time you see the Rice Owls in this tournament.”


SPORTS 11/25/14 8:31am

Basketball falls in opener to Oregon State

The Rice University men’s basketball team lost their season opener to Oregon State University this past Friday, Nov. 14, 54-67, bringing their record to 0-1 overall. The Owls were outscored 22-32 in the first half and 32-35 in the second half by the Beavers.Rice connected on 16 of 52 field goals in the game, including 8 of 29 from beyond the three-point line. The Owls did record over 90 percent free throw percentage however, knocking down 14 of their 15 attempts.Senior forward Seth Gearhart led the way offensively, scoring 14 points. Gearhart shot 4-11 in the game, including 3-6 from the three-point range. Junior point guard Max Guercy led the team in assists with eight, and sophomore center Andrew Drone recorded a career-high eight rebounds in his first start. Freshman guard Bishop Mency recorded double figures in his first collegiate game, scoring 11 points off the bench in 17 minutes.Gearhart said the team performed well at times, but they can improve on their in-game consistency.“We did some things good and we played well in spurts,” Gearhart said. “But our focus wasn’t consistent. Because of that, we allowed them to do some things we didn’t want them to do. We’re just going to work on focusing on the little things and staying consistent.”Head Coach Mike Rhoades said he was disappointed with the loss but is looking forward to winning the next game. “We’re expecting to win the next game,” Rhoades said. “We have to get better. We did some good things in the game, but we just weren’t consistent enough to win on the road … We had some rookie mistakes. We had some guys [whose] shots weren’t falling. We didn’t play through misses and stuff like that. We just have to continually improve and keep working to get better.” The Owls have their home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 19, against Prairie View A&M University. The Panthers are 0-2 on the season and are coming off consecutive double-digit losses to Texas Christian University and Oklahoma State University.Gearhart said the team is playing more exciting basketball than before and is hoping fans come to the opener.“Everyone should come out because we’re going to play a style of basketball that’s fun to watch,” Gearhart said. “We’re going to get up and down. We work really hard and we just want to show off all the work that we’ve done. 


SPORTS 11/25/14 8:29am

Seniors look ahead to final home game

Following a 41-14 loss to nationally-ranked Marshall University, the Rice University football team (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) will host the University of Texas, El Paso on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the final home game for seniors on the roster.Of the 29 fourth- or fifth-year players on the team, 17 are playing in their final year of eligibility. The seniors have accumulated a record of 27-22 over the last four seasons, a winning percentage of 54 percent — significantly higher than the program’s all-time mark of 428–548–32, roughly 42 percent. Of those 27 wins, 23 were in the last three seasons, a school record for wins over a three-year span.Wide receiver Jordan Taylor is finishing up as one of the better receivers in Rice football history and currently has the third most receiving yards in school history with 2,351. Taylor is also tied for third with 17 receiving touchdowns, and, on Saturday, he surpassed David Houser and James Casey for fourth on the program’s career receptions list with 158 catches.Last season against UTEP, Taylor recorded four receptions for a career-best 185 yards and three receiving touchdowns. According to Taylor, however, he is not counting on having another career day against a UTEP team that has improved its defense since last season.“Obviously it’d be great to have another [game] like that,” Taylor said. “They’re a completely different defense [from last year]. I’m not expecting anything like that; I’m just trying to help the team win, but if it happens, it happens.”Head Coach David Bailiff said the seniors have been role models to the younger players on the team and deserve to go out with a victory in their final home game.“This has really been an amazing senior class,” Bailiff said. “It’s an emotional time where the senior class knows its the last time they’re going to wear that blue home jersey in Rice Stadium. That’s a very special place for us, and the rest of the team needs to make sure we’re all-in this week, and in their final home game, we need to make sure we send them out right.”In 2010, the year most current seniors were high school seniors, Rice football finished with a 4-8 record, including a 3-5 record in Conference USA play. According to Bailiff, the class’s willingness to sacrifice a few rebuilding years to establish a winning tradition sets them apart.“I walked in their home five years ago and said, ‘You know what, for the next two years we’re going to struggle, but we’re getting better,’” Bailiff said. “I said, ‘In three years I think we can go to a bowl; I think we can win the conference every year after that.’ They believed the message, and we’ve all grown together. I’m a better man from being around them. All they’ve done since they got here was do everything I asked.”Bailiff also said while the seniors have worked hard to improve the football program, they also know how to enjoy their time in college.“This senior class has a lot of personality,” Bailiff said. “They’ve had a lot of fun during their time at Rice, on this football field, on the other side of campus. I really look forward to 10 years from now, where hopefully we’ll have a reunion to honor this bunch.”Linebacker James Radcliffe said walking out of the tunnel for the last time at home will be a unique but unforgettable experience.“It’s going to be emotional,” Radcliffe, a redshirt senior, said. “Five years here is a long time, longer here than in high school. I’ve grown a lot with these guys, and it’s going to be my last home game with them, but I’m looking forward to it.”Radcliffe also said the senior class believes it is the best class to ever come through Rice due to the chemistry the team has in addition to its successes.“There’s a joke going around the locker room when we talk about who had the best class; we always like to think we had the best class to come through Rice,” Radcliffe said. “It’s just awesome. I love these guys. I think of these guys as my brothers. I love playing with them, and I’ll do anything to make sure we win.”According to Radcliffe, the team’s goal remains making it to a bowl game. Radcliffe said the team will take going to any bowl game as a sign of a successful season.“For one, I don’t care where we go really, as long as we’re going to a bowl game,” Radcliffe said. “I’d love to go to the conference championship as well and then to a bowl game. If we just make a bowl game, though, that’s really the goal here.”


SPORTS 11/25/14 8:29am

Volleyball drops final two regular season matches

This weekend at Tudor Fieldhouse, the Rice University volleyball team’s regular season came to an end with two losses against conference opponents. On Thursday, the Owls (21-9, C-USA 11-5) fell short 2-3 against Marshall University (16-15, C-USA 10-6). On Saturday’s senior night, the Owls suffered a 0-3 sweep at the hands of the University of Texas, San Antonio (19-8, C-USA 15-1). In Thursday’s loss against Marshall, right side hitter Chelsea Harris led the Owls offensively. Despite her career-high 21 kills, Marshall managed to pull off the upset behind the performance of their defensive specialist, Allie Kellerman, who recorded 25 digs.  Head Coach Genny Volpe said she blames defensive play and mental errors for the team’s struggle against Marshall.  “I think against Marshall we were pretty hesitant and tight,” Volpe said. “I was not happy with our pursuit of balls on defense and Marshall capitalized on some of our errors. Even with all of that we battled to five sets and just couldn’t make the plays that mattered at critical times.” On Saturday’s senior night, the Owls faced a rematch against conference-leading UTSA. The seniors could not secure a final home win to end their careers at Rice. Although the Owls kept it competitive in all three sets, they could never manage to maintain their leads, falling 25-19, 25-21, 25-22. UTSA took advantage of Rice’s mistakes for a sweep that earned them the first seed in the conference tournament. Volpe said offensive struggles and inconsistency were the key reason for Saturday’s loss.  “Against UTSA, we played much better defense and pursued balls with authority,” Volpe said. “Our offense is usually very sharp and it was a little bit sketchy. Chelsey Harris and Jillian Humphrey were pretty consistent, but we win matches convincingly when all of our hitters are contributing.” Saturday’s home game included a pre-game ceremony to honor the senior class consisting of Daniela Arenas, Lizzy Bache and Jillian Humphrey, in their final home game as Owls.  Volpe said she has nothing but praise for all the members of the senior class for their leadership and ability. “The senior class as a whole has been amazing,” Volpe said. “All three seniors have provided us with different strengths and a sincere desire to win. Hands down, this class is just so full of talent and desire. They have definitely set the standards high for the future seniors on this team.” Humphrey will end her career at Rice as one of the top players in recent history. Humphrey, a middle blocker, will go into the Rice record books ranking in the top five in Rice history in block assists (407), total blocks (499), solo blocks (92) and hitting percentage (.295). Volpe said Humphrey is a central part of the team’s games and their opponent’s defensive strategy. “Jillian, from day one, has proven that she is one of the most physical players in the conference and is at the top of her game right now,” Volpe said. “ She can dominate a match and our opponents have to gameplan around her.” Bache, also a middle blocker, will end her Rice career with 180 blocks and 646 digs in her four years on the team. Volpe said Bache’s resilience in overcoming injury has her ready to make an impact in postseason play.  “[Bache] is the most versatile player we have had in years,” Volpe said. “Unfortunately, she suffered a pretty severe injury this season, and before that, she was leading the conference in hitting percentage. But she is also another extremely team-oriented player and has bounced back from her injury and is ready to go for the conference tournament in any capacity that we need her.” Daniela Arenas’s four-year tenure at Rice will place her among the top defensive specialists in the team’s history. Her 1,708 career digs as well as her 3.79 digs per set rank second in Rice history. According to Volpe, Arenas’ enthusiasm and leadership, in addition to her notable defensive play, have been a great contribution to the team. “Daniela has a spirit about her that is unlike any other,” Volpe said. “She too is having the best year statistically, but not only that, she is the ultimate team player and wants nothing but the best for the team. She has been a solid leader.”  The Owls will now head to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to participate in the Conference USA tournament as the fourth seed. The tournament winner will earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship Tournament. The Owls will face a rematch with Marshall, the fifth seed, in the first round of the tournament. The game will be held at Southern Mississippi University’s Reed Green Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. Volpe said she has high expectations for the team in the tournament as they look to rebound from their only back-to-back losses during the regular season. “At this point in the season, we need a strong focus on competing and fighting for points,” Volpe said. “There is no doubt in my mind that this team has something special and is probably the most talented team we have ever had at Rice. When we have that killer instinct, nobody can stop us.”