The Southern Miss baseball team is again atop Conference USA by itself.
The Golden Eagles throttled Rice 17-6 Sunday on 18 hits, including four home runs, to clinch the conference series in Houston.
USM (28-9, 12-3) will next play at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday in a non-conference game against Nicholls State at MGM Park in Biloxi.
Third-place Old Dominion (26-11, 10-5) also lost on Sunday, dropping a 7-3 decision to Louisiana Tech in Norfolk, Virginia.
Braley had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-5 with five RBIs. His former Oak Grove High School teammate, Matthew Guidry, finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, all on a third-inning grand slam.
Rice jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first inning when USM starting pitcher J.C. Keys left the inning without retiring a batter. Keys allowed four runs on two hits, walking two Owls.
USM head coach Scott Berry made the quick call to the bullpen in, putting junior right-hander Colt Smith on the mound in the first inning. Smith delivered one of his best performances of the season, giving up one earned run on six hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two as he improved to 2-0.
Nick Sandlin again proved effective out of the bullpen, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out six.
Starting pitcher Glenn Otto took the loss for Rice (13-25, 4-11), allowing five earned runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Who: Southern Miss vs. Nicholls State
When: 7:05 p.m., Tuesday
Where: MGM Park, Biloxi