HOUSTON, Texas – Rice women’s basketball released its 2014-15 schedule today, a slate that begins on Nov. 14 and features matchups with 13 postseason teams from 2014 and five NCAA Tournament participants. Included in the schedule are matchups with Texas A&M and Texas, along with cross-town rivals Houston and Texas Southern.
The Owls have 16 home games in 2014-15 and will play 13 regional opponents from either Texas or Louisiana. Highlights of the non-conference schedule include road trips to Texas A&M (Nov. 19), Houston (Dec. 5) and Texas (Dec. 30).
“Our non-conference schedule featuring seven teams that played in postseason last year will certainly prepare us for the always-tough C-USA schedule,” Rice head coach Greg Williams said. “Playing Big 12 and SEC powers (Texas and Texas A&M), along with cross-town rivals (Houston and Texas Southern) all on the road will definitely test our team.”
“Those difficult road games will hopefully get us ready to open with three straight road games in C-USA and five of our first seven games away from Tudor Fieldhouse in conference play, which will be a major challenge for our team and staff.”
Rice also faces eight squads that won 20-or-more games in 2013-14, four of which will be in C-USA.
Conference USA has revamped its scheduling format for the 2014-15 season where games will be played on Thursdays and Saturdays, a change from the Wednesday-Saturday format a year ago. With the conference now at 14 teams, the Owls will play five opponents twice, which includes Charlotte, North Texas (travel partner), Old Dominion, UTEP and UTSA.
The Owls begin their campaign at Tudor Fieldhouse by squaring off against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 14, marking a third straight season where Rice opens the season against the Panthers. Last season the Owls won 77-63 at Prairie View against a Panthers team that went on to win the SWAC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a fourth straight season and sixth appearance in the past eight years.
Rice will then travel to College Station to face an Aggies team that went 27-9 in 2013-14 en route to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the Elite 8 to eventual champion UConn. The game will mark the 39th meeting between the two Texas squads.
The Owls head to cross-town rival Houston on Dec. 3 for the 10th meeting in as many seasons, meeting every year since 2005-06 despite being in separate conference beginning last season. The Owls non-conference schedule is rounded out with home games against WBI participants Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 6) and McNeese State (Dec. 19), followed by Lamar, who the Owls defeated 67-64 last season in Beaumont before the Lady Cardinals advanced to the NIT Tournament.
Rice will also play another NIT participant on the road at Texas Southern (Dec. 22) before traveling to Austin on Dec. 30 for their non-conference finale to face a Longhorns squad that played in the NCAA Tournament last season. Rice has not faced Texas since the 1995-96 campaign when the Longhorns defeated the Owls, 89-75.
The Owls start Conference USA action on the road for the fourth consecutive year and sixth out of the last seven seasons with a Texas swing to UTSA (Jan. 2), UTEP (Jan. 4) and North Texas (Jan. 10). Rice then returns home to play five of their next seven contests at Tudor Fieldhouse, beginning with Old Dominion (Jan. 15) and Charlotte (Jan. 17).
Rice makes a quick road trip to Southern Miss (Jan. 22) and Louisiana Tech (Jan. 24), before returning home to Houston to host Marshall (Feb. 5) and newly added C-USA member and reigning Sun Belt Conference champion, Western Kentucky (Feb. 7).
The Owls will travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for a second straight year to face the defending C-USA champion Blue Raiders on Feb. 12, followed by a game at UAB on Feb. 19. Other home conference opponents include FIU (Feb. 19), Florida Atlantic (Feb. 21) and UTSA (March 5). The Owls final two conference road games will be at Old Dominion (Feb. 26) and Charlotte (Feb. 28).
The 2014 Conference USA Tournament takes place in Birmingham, Alabama from March 11-14. This season only the top 12 teams (14 total) qualify for the C-USA Tournament.
Game times for all contests, home and away, will be announced at a later date. Season tickets will go on sale in the near future on RiceOwls.com.