FRISCO, Texas -- The first season of the Nikki McCray-Penson era for Old Dominion women's basketball came to a close on Wednesday, as the Monarchs fell to fifth-seeded Rice, 70-48, in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament at the Ford Center at The Star.
"When we got out and running, we had control of the tempo," said McCray. "Then, we just couldn't get stops and it changed the momentum of the game."
In a game of runs and streaks, Rice (21-8, 10-6 C-USA) led by 14 early in the third quarter, but Old Dominion (8-23, 6-10 C-USA), the No. 12 seed, mounted a 9-0 run late in the third to cut the lead to 45-43 with 1:17 to play in the third quarter.
However, the Owls outscored ODU, 25-5, for the remainder of the contest.
Kelly Loftus led ODU with 12 points, while Odegua Oigbokie added 11 points. Loftus, Oigbokie and Ashley Jackson, who finished with four points and five rebounds, all played in the last game of their collegiate careers.
"What I'm going to remember most is the relationships I've built with my teammates and coaches," said Loftus. "I think that's what it's about."
Despite the sub-.500 final record, the Monarchs showed great imrovement over the course of the season. ODU opened the season 2-16 and finished with a 6-7 record in its final 13 games.
"These players persevered and fought hard every single game," said McCray. "I can't remember one game where I can say that our kids gave up.
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