Mulkey rallies No. 25 Rice women past North Texas 59-47

DENTON, Texas (AP) — Nancy Mulkey scored 18 of her 24 points in the second half and No. 25 Rice celebrated its first-ever Top 25 ranking by rallying for a 59-47 win over North Texas on Saturday, clinching the Conference USA title and its 16th-straight win.

With star player Erica Ogwumike held down in the first half and hampered by foul trouble in the second, Mulkey, a 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore transfer from Oklahoma, made sure the nation’s second-longest winning streak remained intact. Mulkey made 10 of 15 shots, going 8 of 12 in the second half.

The Owls (23-3, 14-0), bidding to become the third team with a perfect C-USA record, led most of the first quarter before the Mean Green (14-12, 7-7) tied it at 12. A 10-1 run early in the second quarter put North Texas ahead and it was 24-21 at the half.

Ogwumike, who entered averaging 16.3 points and 11 rebounds with 15 double-doubles, picked up two quick fouls midway through the third quarter. Mulkey had 12 points in the third, six in a closing 10-0 run that gave the Owls a 40-37 lead.

Ogwumike, the younger sister of former Stanford stars Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, picked up her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter. But Mulkey scored the Owls’ first six points and North Texas went cold, going 4 of 12. Ogwumike, who matched Mulkey’s six rebounds, had a 3-point play, her only points of the second half, that put Rice up 57-44 with less than a minute to play. She matched her season low with eight points.

Terriell Bradley led North Texas, which had won three straight, with 10 points. The Mean Green also lost the first meeting by 12.