HOUSTON, Texas (KTSM) – The UTEP women’s basketball team battled, but lost their first conference game of the season on Friday afternoon against the defending Conference USA champion Rice Owls, 74-68 at the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston.
UTEP (5-3, 2-1) came into the week ranked No. 215 in the latest NET rankings. That number is sure to improve after taking Rice (7-1, 3-0), ranked No. 25, down to the wire.
The back-and-forth matchup featured nine lead changed and six ties over the course of four quarters of action. The Miners cut the Owls lead to just five at the final media timeout, but could not get any closer than that down the stretch.
Freshman Elina Arike led the Miners in scoring with a season-high 15 points and eight rebounds, while Destiny Thurman added 14 points for UTEP. Isis Lopes tallied 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Tia Bradshaw, Avery Crouse, and Katia Gallegos each had nine points apiece in the loss.
Rice finished the game with four players scoring in double figures, led by Lauren Schwartz who goes for 16 points, five assists, and three rebounds. Nancy Mulkey chipped in with 15 points, three assists, five rebounds, and six blocks in the win.
UTEP will stay in Houston to wrap up the weekend against Rice on Saturday in another back-to-back to begin league play. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. MT and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.