ODU Lady Monarchs get ready for first place showdown against Rice


NORFOLK (WAVY) — The Old Dominion women’s basketball team will play its biggest game in years when they host Rice (16-6, 11-0) in a battle for a tie for first place in Conference USA.

The Lady Monarchs (20-3, 10-1) have won nine consecutive games and 13 in a row at Chartway Arena.

Rice on the other hand is riding a 30-game conference winning streak.

“That’s where we want to get one day,” third-year coach Nikki McCray said. “We want to be in a position where we are on a streak like Lady Monarch basketball did back in the day, we’re just not there yet.”

Under former coach Wendy Larry, went to 18 consecutive NCAA Tournaments including a Final Four run in 1997.

While tomorrow night’s game is big, coach McCray warns that it’s just the next game on the schedule.

“It’s not like it’s the national championship game but it is a game that you have to play well in order to win and stay true to who we are.”

One tall challenge tomorrow night for ODU will be defending Rice’s Nancy Mulkey, who stands 6- foot-9.

“Got to get in transition and gotta be physical with her without fouling,” McCray said. “She’s such a huge presence on both sides of the floor, that’s one of the reasons they are on a 30-game streak is because you have a 6’9″ kid in the paint that alters shots that can score right over you.”

ESPN’s bracketology currently has ODU as one of the last four teams to make the NCAA Tournament, but coach McCray doesn’t want to hear it, yet.

“I don’t look at that, I don’t want our team looking at that those things just because we’re not there yet. We still have seven games left to decide if we even get a bye (in C-USA Tournament), we just take it one game at a time.”

Tip-off for Rice against Old Dominion is 6:30 at Chartway Arena on Thursday night.

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