Rice, the preseason Conference USA women's favorite, snapped MTSU's four-game league winning streak on Saturday with a 77-60 home win.
The Lady Raiders dropped to 16-8 overall and 8-4 in C-USA play while Rice moved to 16-6 and 11-0 in C-USA.
MTSU trailed 38-26 at halftime and by as many as 16 points in the third quarter before cutting the lead to seven, only to see the Owls pull away in the final period.
"Rice is a very good team all-around and they are particularly good on the defensive end," MTSU coach Rick Insell said. "Playing from behind is not a good option against them from that standpoint, although I was proud of the way our young ladies battled in the second half, especially in the third quarter."
MTSU's Anastasia Hayes had 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and two assists. Transfer Rellah Booth added 11 points in just her second action of the season.
Taylor Sutton and Aislynn Hayes had 10 points apiece for the Lady Raiders, who shot just 38.8 percent and made just 7 of 17 free-throw attempts.
The Lady Raiders still earned a split on the road trip as they defeated North Texas 80-60 last Thursday night behind a career-high 33 points from sophomore guard Anastasia Hayes.
MTSU trailed by 13 at one point and led 56-55 after three quarters before dominating the Mean Green 25-4 in the final period for the 20-point win.
Sophomore Taylor Sutton added 14 points, while freshmen Aislynn Hayes and Courtney Whitson tallied 13 apiece.
"This was a big road win for us and a great team win," Insell said. "To be down 13 on the road against a very good defensive team in North Texas and turn it around like we did showed a lot of grit and determination by our young ladies. That fourth quarter was as good of a 10-minute stretch as I have seen us have at Middle Tennessee in a while. Very, very impressive."
The Lady Raiders are off until Saturday when they travel to UAB for a 2 p.m. tipoff.