AP NEWS

Rice women ranked for first time in school history

February 18, 2019
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FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2019, file photo, Rice coach Tina Langley talks to players during an NCAA college basketball game against Western Kentucky, in Bowling Green, Ky. Buoyed by the second-longest winning streak in the country, Rice has entered The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for the first time in school history. The Owls have won 15 straight games and are ranked 25th in Monday’s poll. (Bac Totrong/Daily News via AP, File)/

NEW YORK (AP) — Tina Langley had a vision when she took over Rice’s women’s basketball program four years ago.

The Owls have been steadily improving every season and now can add an appearance in the AP Top 25 to their achievements.

Rice entered The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for the first time in school history on Monday.

“I’m so grateful to the student-athletes and coaches that have come here and poured their heart and soul into the program,” said Langley, who spent seven years as an assistant and associate head coach under Brenda Frese at Maryland before coming to Rice. “Everything that we’ve accomplished we’ll celebrate with them.”

The Owls have won 15 straight games and are ranked 25th. Langley planned to briefly discuss being ranked at practice later Monday.

“We’ll talk a little about what it means and continue to stay focused on the ultimate goal,” she said.

Baylor remained the top team in the country, garnering 26 of the 28 first-place votes from a national media panel. Oregon moved up to second, getting the other two No. 1 ballots. UConn was third, while Louisville slipped to fourth after losing to Miami on Sunday. The Hurricanes made the biggest jump, moving up six spots to 14th.

Notre Dame was fifth. Mississippi State, Stanford, Maryland, North Carolina State and Iowa rounded out the top 10.

Drake joined the rankings at No. 24, while Rutgers and Michigan State fell out.

Here are some other tidbits from the AP Top 25 this week:

ROUGH WEEK TO BE RANKED

Fourteen of the Top 25 teams lost last week, including seven to unranked schools. That tends to happen a lot in conference play where teams know each other better.

ALL ABOUT THE OGWUMIKES

Rice is led by Erica Ogwumike, who transferred to the school from Pepperdine with her sister Olivia. Now that Rice is ranked, it means all four Ogwumike sisters have appeared in the Top 25 at some point in their careers. Older sisters Nneka and Chiney starred at Stanford.

“Erica is one of the best players in the country,” Langley said. “I believe she’ll be a professional player if she chooses to be. She’s a brilliant young woman with a great future in front of her.”

MOVING ON UP

One week after getting ranked for the first time in school history, South Dakota climbed up to No. 23. The Coyotes won their lone game, routing Western Illinois 83-61.

TOP 25 SHOWDOWNS

There are a bunch of big games this week, starting Monday night when Notre Dame visits N.C. State and Oregon plays at No. 12 Oregon State. Later in the week, No. 16 Kentucky plays 13th-ranked South Carolina and No. 17 Arizona State visits Stanford.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Doug Feinberg at https://twitter.com/DougFeinberg