By Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
Updated Bracket (PDF) | Rice-UAB Notes
Tickets: All Sessions
Videom Stream (free): Stadium
(Announcers: Ron Thulin (PXP), Sheryl Swoopes (Analyst)
Radio: StretchInternet (J.P. Heath)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @RiceWBasketball | @UAB_WBB
Series Record: UAB leads, 8-6 (Last: L, 70-63, 2/15/18)
WBB G6: #4 Middle Tennessee vs #5 Rice Press Conference https://t.co/CMqTmppqMT
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) March 8, 2018
Rice 61-Middle Tennessee 53 (PDF Box Score)
FRISCO, Texas - Behind 22 points from sophomore Erica Ogwumike and a stingy team defensive effort, the Owls punched their ticket to the C-USA Semifinals for the first time since 2007 with a 61-53 victory over the Lady Raiders at the Ford Center at The Star.
Rice (22-8, 10-6) advances to face top-seeded and C-USA regular season champion UAB (25-5, 13-3) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. on Court A, a game which will be streamed by Stadium via Twitter.
"I'm really proud of the defensive effort of our team," Rice head coach Tina Langley said. "We came here with the mentality that we're going to have to defend every single day that we're here if we want an opportunity to win. To win championships, you have to perform on the defensive end of the floor."
The Owls defeated Middle Tennessee for the first time in school history, breaking a six-game losing streak, by limiting the Lady Raiders to 35 percent shooting from the field and just 3-of-22 (14 percent) from three-point territory.
Ogwumike (501 points) became just the seventh player in school history to surpass 500 points in a single-season by making 7-of-11 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 attempts at the free throw line. Sophomore center Gabby Ozoude gave the Owls a huge spark off the bench by scoring a career-high 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field (4-of-4 at the line) in just 19 minutes of action. Junior Nicole Iademarco also scored in double-figures with 10 points and led the Owls in both rebounds (7) and assists (5).
Rice led 13-12 after the opening quarter, a 10-minute period that saw seven lead changes before a pair of Ozoude free throws put the Owls back in front at quarter's end. The Owls turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, limiting MT to just six points on 27 percent shooting and forcing four turnovers. Rice remained unbeaten this season (17-0) when taking a lead into halftime, this time claiming a 24-18 edge at the break.
In the third quarter, Ogwumike scored eight points while freshman center Alexah Chrisman added five points of her own and Rice extended their lead to as large as 39-27 after an Ozoude layup with 52 seconds left.
The Owls held off a late fourth quarter MT rally that cut the lead to 50-46 with 2:15 remaining. Ogwumike scored four consecutive points and Rice went 12-of-16 at the free throw line in the period to put the game away.