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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rice Owls' Erica Ogwumike CUSA Player of the Year and Tina Langley CUSA Coach of the Year
Posted: March 13, 2019 -- 10:35 a.m. CDT
Rice junior Erica Ogwumike was voted the 2018-19 Conference USA Player of the Year just one season removed from winning the league's newcomer superlative award. The guard, who was honored as the Preseason Player of the Year, became the backbone of an Owl team that made history this season by becoming just the third team in C-USA history to rattle off a perfect 16-0 league slate. Rice also appeared in the AP Top 25 for the first time with C-USA Coach of the Year Tina Langley at the helm.
Ogwumike becomes the first player in program history to be named Player of the Year while Langley is the second coach in Rice history to win Coach of the Year honors and the first in the C-USA era. Cristy McKinney was the WAC Coach of the Year following the 2004-05 season.
Ogwumike is the only player in C-USA to rank inside the top 10 in scoring (16.1), steals (1.7) and rebounding (10.8), which leads the league. The Cypress, TX, native and First Team All-C-USA selection sits 16th in the nation with 16 double-doubles and 11th in defensive rebounds per game (8.0). Her defensive rebounding average is the second-best clip by a guard across the country. Ogwumike was twice named C-USA Player of the Week in 2018-19 and lifted the Owls to clinch their first-ever C-USA Regular-Season Championship and second conference title in history in February.
Langley has guided her Owls to unprecedented success this year. Rice, who clinched the No. 1 seed for the C-USA Championship, enters the postseason riding a school-record 18-game winning streak. The run is the second-longest in league history behind UTEP who accomplished the feat in 2007-08. The squad's 25 wins are the most since joining the league in 2005 and Rice is one of just seven teams in NCAA Division I to go undefeated in conference play.
The Owls completed just the second undefeated record at home (13-0) in program history and ended the regular season with the longest active road win streak (11) in the nation. Under Langley's tutelage the Owls recorded their third straight 20-win season and have won 70 games over the last three seasons, the greatest stretch in program history.
The Owls' three all-conference picks announced on Monday were the most honored during the team's tenure in the league. Ogwumike and sophomore Nancy Mulkey were both named to the first team, which marked the first time the school had garnered two first-team nods.
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