USM to take on Rice in conference tourney


The Conference USA postseason tournament will be hosted by Texas-San Antonio this weekend, Nov. 20-22.

The seeding for the tournament was determined by the top eight teams following the regular- season. The winner will gain the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

The Golden Eagles faltered after getting off to the best start in school history, dropping to the sixth seed. The Golden Eagles were tied for second in the conference just three weeks ago, but a 2-3 stretch in conference play to end the season ended their hopes of earning a first- round bye.

In the first round, the Golden Eagles will take on third-seeded

Rice Owls on Friday at 2 p.m. In the only matchup between the teams, the Owls defeated the Golden Eagles 3-0 on Oct. 29.

The top seed and defending champ, Western Kentucky, only dropped one match during conference play, to Rice. The Hilltoppers finished the season 28-3 overall and will face Marshall in their opening round match.

Marshall, the eighth seed, finished the season 16-13 and were below .500 in the conference at 7-9. The Thundering Herd enter the tournament on a positive note, as they beat Middle Tennessee State, 3-2 in their regular season finale.

The host, UTSA, is the number two seed, finishing 21-8 overall during the regular season. UTSA will face Florida International in the first game of the tournament at noon.

The seventh-seeded FIU Panthers ended the season at 15- 12, 9-7 in C-USA. The Panthers closed the season with back-to- back wins against Louisiana Tech and Charlotte, winning 3-0 in each matchup. The Panthers fell 3-1 to the Roadrunners in their lone matchup this season.

The fourth-seeded Mean Green will be matched against the five- seed, Florida Atlantic, in the nightcap of the opening round, playing at 7 p.m.

The Mean Green finished the season 19-12, 11-5 C-USA, while the Owls finished 18-10, 10-6 C-USA. In their only head-to-head matchup against North Texas, the Owls won 3-2 in early November.

If the Golden Eagles can upset the higher-seeded Rice, they will face the winner of the UTSA-FIU match.