It took every single game in Ellie Rice’s Loyola women’s basketball career, but the senior guard finally scored her 1,000th point in the Ramblers’ final game of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) against Abilene Christian University March 21.
Rice led Loyola with 21 points in the win over the Wildcats to finish with 1,009 career points. With the win, the Ramblers finished with a 1-2 record in the WBI — their first postseason appearance in program history.
Reaching the milestone etches Rice into the history of the Ramblers women’s basketball program, but Loyola head coach Kate Achter said her impact goes beyond what she has been able to do on the court over the past four years.
“I think it would be hard to talk about the impact that she’s had on the team without talking about what Ellie means to me as a head coach,” Achter said. “She’s tough, she’s smart, and above all else, she’s kind. She’s just a wonderful role model to everyone she comes into contact with.”
In addition to her strength as a player, Rice recently found out she was accepted to medical school at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) in Fort Worth. She said she found out the news while meeting with one of her coaches.
“I opened the email and we started screaming,” Rice said. “Coach Kate ran in and it was all three of us screaming in the office. Just to be able to see all of my hard work finally come to fruition was really exciting.”
To understand the significance of her departure from the team, it’s necessary to look back on how her career in maroon and gold began.
Rice, who’s originally from Austin, Texas, first visited Loyola in a snowstorm as a high school student. Although she had many memorable experiences during her career at Regents School of Austin — including a nomination to the McDonald’s All American Games and two First Team All-State honors — she had never seen snow.
“I had no idea what to do,” Rice said. “I was like this little kid running through the snow, asking my parents if I could build a snowman. That kind of set the tone for the next four years.”
After that first snowstorm and her official beginning with the Ramblers squad, Rice made an immediate impact, opening her collegiate career with a season-high 20 points against Purdue Univeristy Fort Wayne Nov. 12, 2017. She started seven games her first year and averaged 7.4 points per contest.
During her sophomore season, Rice was one of only two players to start in all 31 games for Loyola and ranked third in terms of scoring, averaging 11 points per game.
Her junior season followed similar trends with Rice one again starting in all 29 games of the season. She also scored double figures in eight appearances and was ranked second on the team in rebounds with an average of 5.0 rebounds per game.
In her senior year, Rice brought in an average of 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. According to Achter, defense is the senior guard’s strongest area.
“Everything I’ve asked her to do, she’s done and then some,” Achter said. “I think Ellie is one of the best defensive players in the league. It doesn’t show up on stat sheets, but we don’t win games without her.”
Rice also showed her offensive skills throughout her senior season, bringing in a career-high 28 points against Drake University Feb. 6.
Fellow senior and forward Kat Nolan said Rice has been a great teammate over the years by being a strong leader and bringing a lot of energy to the team. Nolan described her as goofy, fun and nerdy.
Rice received an honorable mention during her sophomore season and landed on the MVC Scholar-Athlete Second Team this season.
Rice has yet to figure out what specialty she will pursue while at TCOM but said she’s interested in either pediatrics or sports medicine. She said she hopes her success will inspire others who will come after her in Loyola athletics to pursue success in both sports and academics.
“I hope it’s an inspiration to other student-athletes who want to become doctors,” Rice said. “It is possible, especially women, being in the field of medicine. I hope that it inspires other little girls that they can do school and sports too.”