July 1 will be an important day for the Charlotte 49ers as it will be their first back in Conference USA. So running until the 30th, we’re taking a look at all the C-USA teams going in alphabetical order-from ECU to UTSA. We’ll also profile the affiliate members (Kentucky, New Mexico and South Carolina-men’s soccer; Colorado College-women’s soccer).
Location: Houston, TX –pop. 2,160,821
Rice is one of the smallest universities, in terms of enrollment, in Division 1 athletics. Rice joined C-USA in 2005, the same year that Charlotte left for the Atlantic 10 Conference. Before their entrance into C-USA, Rice was a member of the WAC.
Sport-by-sport year in review:
Football (7-6, 4-4)
Home field: Rice Stadium
After starting 2-6, the Owls didn’t lose anther game for the rest of the season and finished 6-6. They earned a berth in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl where they defeated the Air Force Academy by a score of 33-14. The bowl game was the first for the Owls since the 2008 season.
Men’s Basketball (5-26, 1-15)
Home court: Tudor Fieldhouse
It was a season to forget on the hardwood for the Owls. Before the season even started, the Owls lost six players to transfer or overseas play and it didn’t get much better from there. Read more about the transfers: here. The Owls started the season with a loss to NAIA opponent St. Thomas (TX) by a score of 72-59. The lone C-USA victory, and bright spot of the season, was their win against cross-town rival Houston on January 30th by a score of 79-69.
Women’s Basketball (14-16, 6-10)
Home court: Tudor Fieldhouse
Rice’s women’s team fared a little bit better than their male counterparts. The Owls started the season with an 8-5 record after an OOC schedule that was heavy on Texas schools as well as national powers like Tennessee and Baylor. Once in conference play the Owls never seemed to build momentum and finished with a league record of 6-10. In the first round of the C-USA Tournament, Rice was defeated by eventual champions Tulsa by the score of 74-52.
Baseball (44-20, 15-9)
Home field: Reckling Park
Baseball is by far Rice’s most successful sports program. In 2003, the Owls earned their first national championship in any sport when they defeated the Stanford Cardinal to win the College World Series. On top of that, the Owls have won the regular season (or tournament) title in every conference in which they competed since 1996. This year’s Owls continued that tradition by winning the C-USA regular season and tournament titles which earned them a spot in the Eugene, OR Regional. Rice entered as the #2 seed but went on to win the regional with a record of 3-1, which included two victories over host and #1 seeded Oregon. Next up for the Owls was a trip to Raleigh where they faced NC State in the Super Regionals. Unfortunately, that is where their season ended as they lost both games to the Wolfpack by the scores of 4-3 and 5-4.
Rice does not field a softball team.
Men’s Soccer (N/A)
Rice does not field a men’s soccer team.
Women’s soccer (11-7-3, 8-2-1) earned a share of the regular season C-USA title with Colorado College but lost in the opening round of the C-USA tournament 3-1 to SMU…Men’s golf ended their season with an eleventh place finish at the Conference USA Championships…Track and field sent one athlete, Clayton Chaney, to the NCAA Championships where he finished in seventeenth place in the decathlon, his second top-20 result in the past two years…Women’s tennis sent Natalie Beazant to the NCAAs, where she advanced all the way to the quarterfinals before being defeated by Alexa Guarachi of Alabama.