UTEP set for final road game at UAB

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The UTEP women’s basketball team (7-20, 4-10 C-USA) will play its final road game of the regular season at second-place UAB (22-5, 10-4 C-USA) at 1 p.m. MT/2 p.m. CT Saturday. The Miners are coming off a come-from-behind 77-73 victory against UTSA (Feb. 23), which clinched them a spot in the 2019 Conference USA Championships (March 13-17). The Blazers have won three straight and four of the past five, including a 77-72 overtime victory against Middle Tennessee (Feb. 23). This is the second meeting on the year between the programs, with UAB besting UTEP, 76-48, in El Paso on Jan. 17. The Miners are 3-8 on the road in 2018-19, including a mark of 3-4 within league play. They have won at least three league road contests in back-to-back years (3-4 ‘18-19; 3-5 ‘17-18) for the first time since a five-year stretch (‘11-12 through ‘15-16). UTEP has won its past two road contests. UAB is 11-2 at home on the year, including 5-2 in C-USA action. It is riding a three-game home winning streak. The game will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Duke Keith on the call. There will also be a live stream on CUSAtv.com (subscription based). 

 

INJURY-RIDDLED SQUAD

UTEP has been hit hard by injuries, with the Miners having dressed seven players in eight straight contests. Ariona Gill, who had missed eight straight games (final nonconference, first seven C-USA), has come off the bench in seven consecutive contests but Sabine Lipe (11 straight), Jordan Jenkins (eight straight) and Alexa Hoy (eight straight) continue to be sidelined. Lipe and Jenkins are not expected back this season while Hoy’s return is unknown.

 

HE SAID IT (COACH BAKER ON UAB)

“UAB has been playing a consistent level of championship basketball. They are still one of the top teams in Conference USA.  We will be challenged as we head to their home court. We are playing good, quality basketball the last seven to eight games. We will need to continue that trend in Birmingham.  If we play well, this could be a huge win for our program moving forward.”

 

THE SERIES (OVERALL: UAB LEADS, 11-9; IN BIRMINGHAM: UAB LEADS, 6-3)

UAB has an 11-9 edge in the series with the Miners, including a 6-3 advantage when playing in Birmingham, Ala. The Blazers bested UTEP in El Paso, 76-48, on Jan. 17 in the first meeting between the programs this year. Overall UAB has claimed four straight contests in the series. UTEP’s last win against the Blazers was in the 2015-16 season, when it defeated them in the quarterfinals of the 2016 C-USA Championships in Birmingham, Ala. The programs have locked up in the league tournament in five of the past seven campaigns. UAB won the first meeting ever between the programs, 61-41, on Dec. 20, 1990. The two squads did not square off again until the 2005-06 season when UTEP joined C-USA.

 

GET TO KNOW UAB (22-5, 10-4 C-USA; 11-2 HOME; 9-2 AWAY; 2-1 NEUTRAL)

UAB cruised through nonconference play with a mark of 12-1. The Blazers have kept things going since, posting a mark of 10-4 in Conference USA action to stand in a tie for second place with Middle Tennessee. They have won three straight and four of the past five. UAB is in the upper echelon of the league and among the top-100 nationally in fewest turnovers per game (11.3, first/third), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.48, first/fifth), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (25.1, firs/fifth), fewest total turnovers (306, first/fifth), scoring margin (+15.1, first/21st), assists per game (16.7, first/23rd), 3-pointers made (234, first/23rd), 3-pointers made per game (8.7, first/23rd), field-goal percentage defense (36.2, second/29th), 3-pointers attempted (663, second/30th), field-goal percentage (44.8, third/34th), 3-point field-goal percentage (35.3, second/47th), scoring defense (58.1, third/43rd), scoring offense (73.1, third/53rd), free-throw percentage (73.1, second/65th), turnover margin (+2.6, third/65th) and fewest personal fouls per game (16.1, fourth/89th). Individually Rachael Childress paces the high-octane attack at 14.0 points per game. Deanna Kuzmanic (12.3 ppg), Katelynn Thomas (11.7 ppg) and Miyah Barnes (10.9 ppg) are also in double figures for scoring. Childress has nailed 92-222 (41.4 percent, second C-USA/30th NCAA) from 3-point range. The 92 triples lead C-USA and are fifth in the country. Barnes (4.9 apg, first C-USA/54th NCAA) and Kuzmanic (4.0, fifth/144th) also  are quality passers. The university was founded in 1969. Notable alumni include Regina Benjamin (former U.S. Surgeon General), Steve Chiotakis (featured on All Things Considered broadcast), Deidre Downs (2005 Miss America) and Vonetta Flowers (2002 Olympic gold medalist in bobsled).

 

LAST MEETING WITH UAB (UAB 74, AT UTEP 48, 1/17/19)

Junior Zuzanna Puc notched her fourth double-double (11 points, career-high 13 rebounds) of the year while sophomore Alexa Hoy joined her in double figures (team-high 13 points) but UTEP couldn’t sustain a strong start in a 74-48 setback to preseason league favorite UAB at the Don Haskins Center on Jan. 17. The Miners got off to a much-needed good start, leading by seven (11-4) with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter. The Blazers regrouped and struck back in the form of a 34-6 run to suddenly surge out by 21 (38-17) late in the opening half. The home side played hard the rest of the way, but the damage had been done. UTEP was hindered by an off shooting night, finishing at a season-low 26.6 percent (17-64) from the floor. It was a different story for the Blazers, who connected on 44.8 percent (26-57) of their shots. UAB also was locked in from distance, nailing 13-29 (44.8 percent) from beyond-the-arc. The Orange and Blue tried to make up for that by taking good care of the ball (12 turnovers), winning the boards (42-38), enjoying a 21-0 margin in second-chance points and a 28-22 differential in points in the paint but it wasn’t enough. Jade Rochelle came off the bench to tally nine points while also grabbing six boards, buoying the efforts of Puc and Hoy. Rachael Childress (18 points), Lea Kerstein (16 points) and Katelynn Thomas (16 points) led the charge for the visitors while Deanna Kuzmanic added eight points. It marked the 13th consecutive road win in C-USA play for the defending regular-season league champions. 

 

UTEP IN THE C-USA STANDINGS

UTEP enters Saturday’s contest at UAB at 4-10 in Conference USA play, putting it in 11th in the league standings. The Miners have locked up a bid for the 2019 C-USA Championships (March 13-17), where they will be seeded 11th and the sixth-place team. In terms of possible match-ups that is still a bit murky, even with only two games left on the regular-season schedule. Currently ODU and Southern Miss are tied for sixth place at 8-6, one game back of Marshall and WKU. North Texas and Charlotte are also right there, standing 7-7.

 

GOING BACK IN TIME (AT UTEP 77, UTSA 73, 2/23/19)

Jordan Alexander tallied a season-high tying 18 points to pace a trio of players in double figures as the UTEP women’s basketball team used a big fourth quarter to rally past UTSA, 77-73, at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 23. The win officially locks up a bid to the 2019 Conference USA Championships (March 13-17). The Roadrunners led by many as 13 (28-15, 1:30 1Q) and were still up by four (53-49) through three quarters of play before the Miners stormed back. UTEP scored the first 12 points in the final frame to take its first lead since 2-1, and it answered every push the rest of the way to secure the come-from-behind victory. It is the first win of the season for the Miners when trailing at the half (now 1-16). Zuzanna Puc (15 points) and Katarina Zec (12 points) also reached double figures in scoring for UTEP, which dressed only seven players for the eighth consecutive contest. The Miners shot 48.3 percent (29-60) from the floor while committing 13 turnovers. They also took care of business at the free-throw line by nailing 72.2 percent (13-18), including a perfect 8-8 in the final frame to help ice the contest. All seven Miners scored at least seven points in the game, while Jade Rochelle (eight rebounds) led the efforts on the glass. UTEP registered its highest scoring fourth quarter (28 points) of the season. 

 

RALLY TIME

UTEP trailed by 13 (28-15) late in the first quarter against UTSA (Feb. 23) before outscoring the Roadrunners, 62-45, the rest of the way to post a 77-73 victory. The rally ties as the eighth-biggest come-from-behind victory in program history. It is also the third time in the Kevin Baker era that the Orange and Blue have rallied from at least 13 points down to win a game in the Don Haskins Center. Last year UTEP overcame 15-point deficits in eventual wins against both Charlotte (Jan. 11, 2018) and FAU (Jan. 18, 2018). 

 

TRACKING THE OPPOSITION

UTEP’s 20 setbacks have come against teams that are a combined 321-201 (61.5 percent) on the season. Seventeen of those squads currently boast winning records, with five having surpassed 20 wins. Overall the Miners’ opponents have a combined record of 372-336 (52.5 percent). 

 

HISTORIC AMOUNT OF CLOSE CALLS

UTEP has seven setbacks on the season by four points or less, the most such losses in a single campaign in program history. Each of those defeats has been at the Don Haskins Center. Prior to this year the most setbacks by four points or fewer in a single season at UTEP was five, which happened five times (2017-18, 2003-04, 1990-91, 1983-84 and 1975-76). The Miners flipped the script last time out, though, by toppling UTSA, 77-73 (Feb. 23).

 

HEARTBREAK AT HOME

UTEP is 3-11 at the Don Haskins Center in 2018-19, but that record is a bit misleading. Seven of the losses have been by four points or less, including a single-season program most three home defeats by just one point. The Miners have held the lead with less than 1:30 to play in five of the setbacks, including four that they maintained an advantage inside of 30 seconds. There have also been three different losses that UTEP was ahead and had possession of the ball with less than 26 seconds remaining. The Orange and Blue halted that trend in their most-recent home game, closing out UTSA for the 77-73 win (Feb. 23).

           

INDIVIDUAL QUICK HITTERS

Jordan Jenkins has missed eight straight games with an injury suffered at Old Dominion (Jan. 24) and is not expected back this year … she had played in every game, including making nine starts, before the injury … Jordan Alexander has hit double figures in three straight games for the first time this season … she had a five-contest streak to close out last year … hit 6-15 from distance the past three games to break out of an 0-8 skid the three tilts beforehand … the majority (125 of 147) of her rebounds have been at the defensive end … hit 11 consecutive free throws … Neidy Ocuane  has played 25+ minutes in eight straight games after surpassing 25 minutes in a game just once the first 19 contests of the campaign … nearly perfect (19-of-20) at the charity stripe the past 10 games … chipped in at least five points in four of the past five games … Zuzanna Puc has hit double figures in scoring in seven of the past eight and nine of the past 11 contests … pulled down at least seven rebounds in 10 of the past 11 games … one total offensive board the past two games after having six combined the preceding two … Jade Rochelle ranks second on the team in offensive boards (49) and third in rebounds per game (4.7) despite rating seventh on the squad in minutes per game (19.3) … grabbed at least five boards in five straight games for the first time of her career (prior long stretch three in a row) … only player on the squad to have not started at least once this season … had eight points and eight rebounds against UTSA (Feb. 23), marking the fourth game of at least eight and eight this season … has hit a combined 9-12 from the floor the past three contests … snagged three offensive boards in three straight games … Ariona Gill started the first 12 contests, contributing 11.2 ppg, and 4.9 rpg in 29.0 mpg before missing eight in a row with an injury (UTEP was 1-7 without her) … chipped in 2.4 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 15.0 mpg in her first five games back but is looking like her self again the past two tilts … providing 11.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg in 26.5 mpg in that stretch … drilled 57.1 percent (8-14) from the floor in the recent uptick … Sabine Lipe has missed 11 straight games due to getting hurt at Rice (Jan. 12) and is not expected to return … chipped in 3.2 ppg and 2.3 rpg in 13.8 mpg before going down with the injury … Alexa Hoy has missed eight straight games due to an injury suffered at Old Dominion (Jan. 24), and her return to action this season is unknown … she had led UTEP in scoring (11.8 ppg), assists (3.0 apg) and minutes per game (37.0) over the first five C-USA contests before getting hurt at ODU … Ariana Taylor has scored at least seven points in three straight games (first time of her career) and for five of the past six contests … shooting 11-22 from the floor, including 4-9 from distance, the past three games … one total turnover in 38 combined minutes played the past two tilts … Katarina Zec has reached double figures in scoring in eight straight games for the first time of her career (prior best three in a row, twice in 2017-18) … averaging 14.5 points, on 49.4 percent shooting (42-85) from the floor, to go along with 4.5 rpg and a team-high 2.8 apg in a squad-most 37.6 mpg in the stretch …  hit 7-12 from distance the past four games to emerge from a 2-16 stretch the three contests beforehand … was 5-9 from the charity stripe over the first six league games but has hit 20-of-22 since … overall on the year is 47-56 (83.9 percent) in free throws.

 

TRENDING WITH THE TEAM

Dressed seven players in eight straight games … posted its second-highest scoring output (77 points) of the season in the win against UTSA (Feb. 23), … that figure was helped a 28-point fourth quarter, the team’s most points in the final frame this year … won for the first time this season when trailing at the half and the second occasion of the campaign when behind through three quarters of play … after committing 20+ turnovers in back-to-back games, finished with just 13 against UTSA … forced 15 turnovers against UTSA, the most by a foe since Charlotte committed 19 (Jan. 26) … connected on at least 44 percent from the floor in three straight and five of the past six contests; had five such efforts the first 21 games of the season … mark of 3-4 in the past seven contests, with at +18 differential (455-437) in those contests … grabbed at least 10 offensive boards in three of the past four games despite shooting a combined 46.0 percent in the stretch.

 

DEEPER LOOK AT THE LOSSES

The chart below shows UTEP’s differential in its worst quarter of each loss compared to the Miners’ margin in the other three quarters combined in the game. It is sorted by highest-to-lowest differential in the other three quarters, showing just how much that one bad frame impacted the game’s result.

Opp.   Diff In Worst Quarter     Diff Other Three Quarters         Final Score 

Abilene Christian  -15 (8-23), 1Q            +14 (61-47)    L, 69-70

Nicholls State         -13 (6-19), 4Q            +11 (50-39)    L, 56-58

Southern Miss        -9 (12-21), 3Q            +8 (51-43)      L, 63-64

at Weber State        -12 (10-22), 1Q          +7 (53-46)     L, 63-68

Marshall       -10 (5-15), 3Q            +7 (55-48)     L, 60-63

WKU -9 (14-23), 4Q           +6 (47-41)      L, 61-64

NM State     -10 (8-18), 1Q            +6 (57-51)                  L, 65-69

A-State         -6 (18-24), 4Q           +5 (48-43)                 L, 66-67

vs. Akron      -7 (12-19), 4Q            0 (45-45)                   L, 57-64

at Tulsa         -20 (5-25), 1Q           -1 (40-41)                   L, 45-66

LA Tech        -7 (14-21), 3Q            -3 (50-53)      L, 64-74

at UNM        -8 (8-21), 2Q -5 (43-48)                  L, 51-69

at ODU          -11 (11-22), 4Q           -8 (48-56)     L, 59-78

at Arizona    -14 (9-23), 2Q           -8 (31-39)                  L, 40-62

UAB   -18 (6-24), 2Q           -8 (42-50)                 L, 48-74        

at North Texas       -8 (14-22), 1Q            -11 (37-48)                 L, 51-70

MT     -17 (13-30), 1Q          -13 (36-49)    L, 49-79

at Charlotte -9 (7-16), 1Q  -14 (32-46)    L, 39-62

Portland State         -9 (17-26), 1Q            -19 (44-63)                L, 61-89

Rice    -13 (10-23), 1Q          -19 (32-53)                L, 42-76

 

DEFENDING WITHOUT FOULING

The Miners are committing 14.4 fouls per game (first C-USA/27th NCAA), aided by having the third-fewest infractions (six) in program history at Charlotte (Jan. 26). The opposition has been hit for 18.9 fpg, a stark contrast. Overall there have been 390 fouls on UTEP (second C-USA/39th NCAA) and 510 on the opposition. One direct impact has been UTEP having advantages in free throws made and attempted. The Miners are 335-478 from the charity stripe compared to their foes standing 275-379.

 

IT’S A QUARTER THING

UTEP has a -4.1 average scoring margin (13.4-17.5) in the first quarter, but it is much more competitive the rest of the way. The average difference is -0.9 (14.2-15.1) in the second quarter, -0.8 in the third quarter (14.9-15.7) and -1.0 (16.9-17.9) in the fourth quarter. Overall on the season the Miners have been outscored by 185 points (1603-1788). They are -112 (361-473) in the first quarter, -24 (384-408) in the second quarter, -23 (401-424) in the third quarter and -26 (457-483) in the fourth quarter. 

 

PUTTING UP THE POINTS

Zuzanna Puc (12.8 ppg, 12th C-USA), Katarina Zec (9.4 ppg), Ariona Gill (8.8 ppg) and Jordan Alexander (8.6 ppg) have been the most consistent scoring threats for the Miners in 2018-19. They are combining for 39.6 of UTEP’s 59.4 points per game on average (66.7 percent), with no other player on the squad tallying more than 6.5 ppg. The quartet is responsible for 49 of the 63 double-digit scoring efforts on the campaign. Puc (18) leads, followed by Zec (13), Alexander (10) and Gill (eight). Ariana Taylor (six), Alexa Hoy (currently injured-four), Neidy Ocuane (two), Jordan Jenkins (currently injured-one) and Jade Rochelle (one) have the other 14.

 

TALKING PLAYING TIME

There is plenty of playing time to go around of late, with the Miners dressing seven the past eight contests. Every individual on the squad is earning double digits in minutes per game. UTEP has used eight different starting line-up combinations. Zuzanna Puc is the lone Miner to have started all 27 contests, and she is earning a team-high 30.1 minutes per game. 

 

UTEP IN THE RANKINGS

UTEP is in the upper echelon of C-USA and among the top-100 nationally for fewest fouls per game (14.4, first/27th) and fewest total fouls (390, second/39th).

 

INDIVIDUALS IN THE RANKINGS

Zuzanna Puc is in the C-USA leaders for defensive rebounds per game (4.9, seventh), offensive rebounds per game (2.2, 10th), rebounds per game (7.0, ninth), points per game (12.8, 12th), field-goal percentage (48.4, 14th) and blocks per game (0.7, 14th). Puc also appears in national ratings for rebounds per game (242nd). Jordan Alexander checks in the C-USA rankings for defensive rebounds per game (4.6, eighth), free-throw percentage (75.0) and rebounds per game (5.4, 17th). Katarina Zec is tied for 15th in the C-USA stats for 3-point percentage (35.3).

 

PUC POWER

Junior Zuzanna Puc paces the Miners in scoring (12.8 ppg, 12th C-USA), rebounding (7.0, ninth C-USA/242nd NCAA), field-goal percentage (48.4, 14th C-USA), double-doubles (six), minutes per game (30.1), offensive rebounds per game (2.2, 10th C-USA), defensive rebounds per game (4.9, seventh C-USA), blocks per game (0.7, 14th C-USA), field goals made (133), field goals attempted (275), free throws made (65) and free throws attempted (99). She also ranks second on the squad in total steals (14) and 3-point percentage (35.7). Puc has produced a team-best 18 double-digit scoring efforts (UTEP is 7-11 in those games). The native of Poland is the only player on the squad to have started all 27 contests. 

 

ALEXANDER AVENUE

Jordan Alexander, the lone senior on the squad, has been trying to lead by example. She leads the team in steals (21) and 3-pointers attempted (90) while sharing the top spot for 3-pointers made (30). Alexander is also second in rebounding (5.4, 17th C-USA), defensive boards per game (4.6, eighth C-USA) and playing time (29.3 mpg) and fourth in scoring (8.6 ppg). Alexander has started 26 of 27 games, tying her for second on the unit in starts.

 

HOY’S EMERGENCE

Sophomore Alexa Hoy (currently injured) emerged as a key player for the Miners before sustaining an injury at ODU (Jan. 24) that has sidelined her for eight consecutive contests. Her return to action is unknown. Over the first five C-USA games she led the Miners in scoring (11.8 ppg), assists (3.0 apg) and playing time (37.0 mpg) before going down with the injury. Overall on the season Hoy is producing 6.3 ppg (fifth on team).

 

TAYLOR’S TOWN

Freshman Ariana Taylor has made big strides since early in the year, resulting in her starting 12 of the past 13 games. She chipped in 4.5 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game during nonconference play, but is contributing 7.3 ppg and 3.0 rpg in C-USA action. She has hit 14 triples in league play (on 32 attempts) for a readout of 43.8 percent from distance (second on team). Overall on the season Taylor is now pitching in 5.9 ppg and 2.5 rpg. Her seasonal 3-point percentage (37.0) tops the team.

 

WORTH THE WAIT

Ariona Gill, who sat out last year as a redshirt, contributed 11.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg in 29.0 mpg while starting the first 12 contests of the year. She then missed eight straight games with an injury (UTEP was 1-7 without her). She has come off the bench since returning to action against Marshall (Jan. 31). In her first five games back she chipped in 2.4 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 16.0 mpg, but is starting to revert to her pre-injury form the past two tilts. She is at 11.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg in 26.5 mpg in that stretch. She has hit 57.1 percent (8-14) of her shots in the sequence while also registering six assists to three turnovers.  Overall on the year Gill is producing 8.8 ppg and 4.3 rpg in 25.1 mpg.

 

KAT’S CORNER

Junior Katarina Zec shares the team in 3-pointers made (30) while rating second on the squad in scoring (9.4) and 3-pointers attempted (85). She also checks in third for playing time (28.2) and fifth in rebounding (4.2). Zec has produced eight straight double-digit scoring games for the first team of her career. She started the first 14 games before coming off the bench at North Texas (Jan. 10), snapping an overall streak of 58 consecutive starts. Zec has started every contest since. She has been sensational at the charity stripe, nailing 47-56 attempts for a team-high 83.9 percent. 

 

THE BAKER FILE (OVERALL: 368-165, COLLEGE: 146-64, UTEP: 24-34)

Kevin Baker is in his second year (24-34) at the helm of the UTEP women’s basketball team. He is in his 17th year overall (368-165) as a head coach, including his seventh season (146-64) as a college head coach. He has a unique background which has seen him rise through the coaching ranks from the high school level, to NCAA Division III, then NCAA Division II and now his NCAA Division I position at UTEP. He has set school records for wins at every previous stop of his career, and has taken every prior school to the postseason with a total of five district championships. He is an eight-time Coach of the Year. In his most-recent posts prior to UTEP, Baker’s teams captured back-to-back conference championships at UT-Tyler and Angelo State. Baker led both a Division II (Angelo State) and Division III (UT-Tyler) school to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

 

BAKER’S FIRST-YEAR SUCCESS

Kevin Baker set the school record for most wins (17-14) by a first-year Miner head coach in 2017-18, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. The seven previous first-year head coaches had an average combined record of 8-17. Carol Ammerman (11-5, 1974-75) and Janet Wood (11-16, 1979-80) shared the school mark for wins (11). Baker obliterated that figure while also joining Ammermann as the lone individuals to experience a winning season in year one at UTEP. Furthermore, Baker became the initial first-year Miner head coach to taste victory at the league tournament.

 

WINNING NUMBERS UNDER BAKER

The Miners are 13-1 (5-0 this year) when scoring 70+ points under Kevin Baker. Other notable records in the Baker era include being 11-3 (4-2 this season) when drilling better than 40 percent from 3-point range (min. four makes), 11-4 (4-3 this year) when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor, 17-8 (6-3 this year) when holding the opponent to below 40.0 percent from the floor, 17-8 (5-4 in ‘18-19) when leading after three quarters and 17-10 (5-4 in ‘18-19) when up at the half.

 

REBOUND OR ELSE…

UTEP has only won one game in two years under Kevin Baker when it has not won the boards. The Miners are 0-11 this year and 1-16 in the Baker era when they have not outrebounded their opponent. Those records includes an 0-1 mark when the rebounds are equal.

 

HOME SWEET HOME

UTEP has an all-time home record of 363-230, including standing 3-11 in the Don Haskins Center in 2018-19. Seven of the 11 losses this year in El Paso have been by four points or less, including three by a single point. The Miners have amassed a record of 165-56 at home since 2006-07, including 98-39 since 2011-12. UTEP has been particularly strong in nonconference play, standing 82-17 in the Sun City in such contests since 2006-07. 

 

TRAVEL TIME

UTEP is 147-371 all time on the road, including 3-8 this year. The game at UAB is the final road contest of the regular season. When playing at a neutral site the Miners stand 61-80, including 1-1 this year. Since the start of the 2006-07 season UTEP is 65-78 on the road, including 41-47 since 2011-12. 

 

CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS

UTEP juniors Zuzanna Puc and Katarina Zec have sprinkled their names throughout the UTEP career records. Puc is 11th  in blocked shots (55), tied 13th for double-doubles (10), 21st in field goals made (325), 23rd for rebounds (474), 24th in minutes (2,089), 25th for points (808) and 35th in games played (87). Zec is tied 11th in 3-pointers attempted (261), 12th for 3-pointers made (88), tied 14th in games started (76), 20th for minutes played (2,255), tied 33rd in field goals made (246), 36th for points (683) and tied 39th in games played (83). Additionally, senior Jordan Alexander is tied for 19th in starts (57).

 

FOURTH BEST IN TEXAS SINCE 2006-07

The Miners are tied for the fourth-most victories among all DI programs in the state of Texas since 2006-07. Power conference members Baylor (407-54), Texas A&M (329-114) and Texas (283-146) lead the way followed by the Miners (253-154) and Lamar (253-147).  Stephen F. Austin (249-150), TCU (240-172), Prairie View A&M (215-189), SMU (206-193) and Texas Tech (197-210) round out the top 10. 

 

SPECIAL RUN

The Miners are 153-100 since the start of the 2011-12 season (7-20 this year). UTEP has played postseason basketball three times during the stretch, making two deep runs in the WNIT (2014 runner-up, 2016 quarterfinals) and earning the C-USA automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament (lost, first round). The Orange and Blue have enjoyed 18 separate winning streaks of at least three games (nine such skids), and posted 91 double-digit victories (52 such losses) during that time frame.

 

45 SEASONS AND COUNTING

The 2018-19 season marks the 45th in program history. The 1974-75 squad, the inaugural one at UTEP, will be honored in the Miners’ game against WKU on Feb. 2, 2019. The 1974-75 finished 11-5.

 

GETTING TO KNOW THE 2018-19 MINERS

UTEP returned four letter winners (Jordan Alexander-8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, Jordan Jenkins-2.0 ppg, 1.4 apg, Zuzanna Puc-9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg and Katarina Zec-9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) from last year’s squad (17-14, 7-9 C-USA). Also back are a pair of players (Ariona Gill and Neidy Ocuane) who sat out last year as redshirts. The Miners also have newcomers (Eliana Cabral, freshman guard, Alexa Hoy, sophomore guard, Sabine Lipe, freshman guard, Jade Rochelle, junior guard/forward and Ariana Taylor, freshman forward), but Cabral is slated to take a redshirt year in 2018-19. The squad is under the direction of second-year head coach Kevin Baker, who is assisted by Lori Morris, Michael Madrid and Kayla Weaver.  

 

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR

Nearly half (5-11) of the Miners’ roster in 2018-19 is comprised of international players. Eliana Cabral (Portugal), Sabine Lipe (Latvia), Neidy Ocuane (Mozambique), Zuzanna Puc (Poland) and Katarina Zec (Serbia) give UTEP a distinct international flavor this season. 

 

TEXAS STRONG

The Miners feature five native Texans (Jordan Alexander, Dallas, Alexa Hoy, Rockwall, Jordan Jenkins, Tennessee Colony, Jade Rochelle, Grandview and Ariana Taylor, Houston) on the roster. The only other American on the team (Ariona Gill) hails from Las Vegas, Nev.

 

SHARING THE LEADERSHIP

For the third straight season the Miners feature a squad with just one senior (Jordan Alexander). She is far from alone in terms of leadership, with five juniors (Ariona Gill, Neidy Ocuane, Zuzanna Puc, Jade Rochelle and Katarina Zec) on the roster. Puc and Zec have earned a pair of letters for the Miners. Gill and Ocuane sat out last season as redshirts, while Rochelle is a transfer from Blinn College. 

 

BASIC FACTS ON UTEP

UTEP is 571-682 in its 45th season as a women’s basketball program, including standing 7-20 in 2018-19. The Miners have made four postseason bids (2016,-WNIT quarterfinals; 2014-WNIT runner-up, 2012-NCAA first round and 2008-NCAA second round), sporting a combined record of 9-4 (8-2 WNIT, 1-2 NCAA). UTEP has claimed four league championships (2016 C-USA regular season, 2012 C-USA regular season and conference tournament and 2008 C-USA regular season). It has a 1-1 record all time in league tournament title games, cutting down the nets in 2012 and falling in 2008. There have been six 20+ win seasons (all since 2006-07), UTEP has cracked the top-25 poll in two seasons (2015-16, 2007-08), including being ranked in the final six weeks in ‘07-08, while receiving votes in seven campaigns total (‘15-16, ‘13-14, ‘12-13, ‘11-12, ‘08-09, ‘07-08 and ‘06-07). The Miners have been mentioned in the AP Preseason Poll four times (most recent 2016-17). In 2008 UTEP became the first C-USA women’s team to finish undefeated in league play (16-0) while claiming the program’s initial league title. The Miners finished 15-1 in C-USA in 2012 in addition to also winning the program’s first conference tournament championship. UTEP owns the C-USA single-season record for winning streak at 23, which was set in 2007-08. The University of Texas at El Paso was founded in 1914. Notable alumni include former ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson, well-respected and former NFL referee Ed Hochuli, former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas engineer & Dennis Poon, who designed Taipei 101 & some of the tallest buildings in the world.

 

QUICK 2017-18 YEAR IN REVIEW

The Miners compiled an overall record of 17-14 (7-9 in C-USA play, 9-4 in nonconference action) to surge past the 2016-17 team’s overall victory total (8-23) by nine wins while also exceeding the number of league victories (5-13 C-USA). UTEP also won a game at the C-USA tournament, and it even led top-seed UAB by five points late in the third quarter before ultimately succumbing, 75-66, on March 8, 2018.

 

CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Fans are encouraged to connect with the Miners on Facebook (UTEP Women’s Basketball), Instagram (@utepwbb) and Twitter (@UTEPWBB). 

 

UP NEXT

UTEP will wrap up the regular season with its “Senior Night” game against North Texas at 7 p.m. MT March 7.  The contest will be available on ESPN+ with Colin Deaver and Izabela McCage on the call. It will also be broadcast locally on 600 El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller describing the action. Tickets are $3 for youth and $5 for adults and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234.  

 

CLIFF NOTES ON THE 2018-19 SEASON

UTEP DROPS HEARTBREAKER TO SOUTHERN MISS (SOUTHERN MISS 64, AT UTEP 63, 2/16/19)

UTEP shot 52.6 percent (20-38) from the floor, including nailing 10-17 from distance (58.8 percent), but it was a triple by Alarie Mayze of Southern Miss with 1.9 seconds left that proved decisive in a 64-63 setback for the UTEP women’s basketball team at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 16. It was a back-and-forth game featuring five ties and six lead changes, with the Miners up by two with eight seconds left after an Ariona Gill free throw. The second free throw attempt rimmed out, and the Lady Eagles got the rebound and raced down the court. Shonte Hailes drove and then set up Mayze, who entered the contest 2-17 on 3-point shots this year, for the game winner. UTEP called timeout to advance the ball only to commit one of its 22 turnovers in the game to seal its fate. In addition to shooting it extremely well, the Miners also won the boards (31-29) against the top rebounding team in C-USA. USM was able to overcome that by converting the 22 UTEP giveaways into 28 points while connecting on a solid 42.4 percent (29-59) from the floor. The Lady Eagles also enjoyed advantages for points in the paint (32-18) and second-chance points (13-5). It served as the seventh straight contest that injury-riddled UTEP has dressed just seven players. Gill finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes, by far her best game since returning to the court from an injury. Jordan Alexander matched Gill with 14 points for her second straight double-digit scoring effort while Katarina Zec extended her double-figure scoring streak to seven by tallying 11 points.

 

UTEP DISPATCHED BY LA TECH (LA TECH 74, AT UTEP 64, 2/14/19)

Katarina Zec tallied a season-high tying 19 points to pace a quartet of Miners in double figures but high-flying LA Tech toppled UTEP, 74-64, at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 14. Kierra Anthony overcame foul problems to pour in 30 points in 28 minutes to lead the way for the Lady Techsters. The injury-riddled Miners dressed only seven players for the sixth straight contest, and finished with five after two fouled out in the final minute. UTEP easily controlled the boards (39-25) and shot a solid 44.4 percent (25-54), but LA Tech was even better on offense by nailing 48.1 percent (26-54) while also converting 21 UTEP giveaways into 18 points. Ariana Taylor (13 points), Jordan Alexander (13 points) and Zuzanna Puc (10 points) joined Zec in double figures for scoring. Puc flirted with a double-double with nine boards while Alexander also got after it on glass by pulling down seven caroms. Alexander also dished out a team best and career-high tying five assists.

 

UTEP GRINDS OUT WIN AT FIU (UTEP 60, AT FIU 55, 2/9/19)

Zuzanna Puc (19 points), Katarina Zec (16 points) and Neidy Ocuane (career-high tying 14 points), all had big days to help UTEP grind out a 60-55 win at FIU on Feb. 9. The Miners’ second straight win secured the sweep on the trip to the “Sunshine State,” with UTEP having posted its second-biggest road conference win in program history (70-44) at FAU (Feb. 7) just two days prior. It is the first road sweep in league play for UTEP in three years (wins at Southern Miss and at LA Tech in Feb. 2016), but the Panthers didn’t make it easy. FIU jumped out by five (7-2) midway through the opening frame. The Miners countered by wrapping a 16-7 run around the quarter break to surge into the lead (18-14), one they would never relinquish. UTEP countered every Panthers’ push and survived some serious foul trouble to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since starting the season at 2-0. Making the feat even more impressive is that UTEP dressed just seven players for the fifth consecutive contest. It also navigated through Puc and Ariana Taylor both picking up their fourth foul of the contest with more than seven minutes to play in regulation. Puc poured in 17 in her points in the opening half before being saddled with foul trouble. She had 10 alone in the first quarter, helping keep UTEP in the game (12-12) before her other teammates got things going. Zec had 10 of her 16 after the break, while Ocuane had eight of 14 in the stretch as well. Jordan Alexander finished with six points and six points in 34 gritty minutes while Jade Rochelle pulled down five rebounds and sank two free throws. Ariona Gill chipped in two points and four boards and Taylor had three assists, three rebounds and a key free throw late. UTEP registered 12 assists on its 18 made field goals, including a team-high five helpers from Zec. The Miners excelled at the charity stripe, making 16-20, while also winning the rebounding battle (36-30). Puc recorded a team-best nine rebounds while Alexander (six), Zec (six) and Rochelle (five) also got after it on the glass. UTEP also defended well, holding FIU to 36.4 percent shooting (20-55). 

 

UTEP STIFLES FAU ON THE ROAD (UTEP 70, AT FLORIDA ATLANTIC 44, 2/7/19)

UTEP bolted out to its largest halftime lead (21 points; 35-14) in a league game in 10 years and never looked back on the way to posting a wire-to-wire 70-44 win at Florida Atlantic on Feb. 7. The 26-point triumph matches the biggest margin of victory in the Kevin Baker era, and ranks as the second largest on the road in league play in program history. The Miners held the Owls to the lowest field-goal percentage (24.5 percent) by a conference foe since former league member Tulsa shot 20.6 percent on Jan. 31, 2013. There were no such woes for UTEP, which eclipsed 50.0 percent (52.0 percent) shooting from the floor for the second consecutive contest. The Miners were particularly locked in over the final three quarters, combining to go 21-36 (58.3 percent) in that timeframe. Zuzanna Puc (18 points), Katarina Zec (16 points) and Ariana Taylor (11 points) all reached double figures in scoring for the short-handed Miners, who dressed just seven players for the fourth consecutive contest. Jordan Alexander pitched in nine points while Jade Rochelle notched eight points and a game-high eight rebounds. Neidy Ocuane contributed across the board, with six points, a career-high six rebounds and a personal-best tying five assists. The 44 points allowed establish an opponent season low, while the Orange and Blue also recorded a campaign-high 10 steals. UTEP pounded FAU down low, piling up 44 points (to just 14 allowed) in the paint, while also finishing a robust 16-19 from the charity stripe. The Miners won the boards (39-29), and also held an 11-5 edge in second-chance points.

 

HISTORIC ROAD WIN 

UTEP’s 26-point romp at FAU (2/7/19) marked its second-biggest margin of victory on the road in a conference game in program history, trailing only a 31-point win (85-54) at Nevada on Jan. 15, 2004. Overall it was the largest win on the road since a 28-point triumph (85-57) at Northern Colorado (12/13/05) and just the 10th road triumph of at least 25 points at the school.

 

WKU SLIPS PAST MINERS (WKU 64, AT UTEP 61, 2/3/19)

Zuzanna Puc produced her second straight double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Katarina Zec tallied a season-high 19 points but visiting WKU slipped past UTEP, 64-61, at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 2. Raneem Elgedawy (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Dee Givens (26 points) combined for 53 of the Lady Toppers’ 64 points in the game, which helped them offset the Miners shooting 52.5 percent from the floor (21-40) and also winning the boards (32-26). Another factor was UTEP’s 23 turnovers, which led to 25 points by the visitors. It was a wild game with big runs from both sides, in addition to seven ties and eight lead changes. WKU started the contest on a 12-2 run but UTEP punched back with a 27-5 run around the quarter break to take control. The Miners led by six (36-30) at the half and were still up five with three minutes remaining. WKU rallied to get within two (59-57) but Alexis Brewer’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 44 seconds left spun out. Zec got the board only to pressured and have Givens come away with the steal. Givens was fouled and she hit the first free throw to make it 59-58. She missed the second but somehow got her own rebound before being fouled again. This time she hit both, putting the visitors ahead (60-59) with 36 seconds to play. UTEP didn’t flinch, getting a basket on a driving lay-up from Ariona Gill with 15 seconds left to regain the lead (61-60). The visitors called timeout to advance the ball, and Elgedawy got loose inside for the jumper to put her side back up by one (62-61) with 10 seconds left. The Miners were out of timeouts and unfortunately a pass from Ariana Taylor sailed out of bounds with five seconds remaining. UTEP fouled Givens, who made both free throws. The Miners heaved it deep and connected with Jade Rochelle, but her desperation 3-pointer to tie it from the top of the arch fell short as WKU escaped. 

 

UTEP DROPS HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE TO MARSHALL (MARSHALL 63, AT UTEP 60 1/31/19)

Junior Zuzanna Puc produced a double-double (23 points, career-high 14 rebounds) while redshirt-junior Neidy Ocuane (career-high 14 points) and junior Katarina Zec (12 points) also got going on offense but short-handed UTEP was clipped by Marshall, 63-60, at home on Jan. 31. The Miners, who dressed seven players, led for 28 minutes. They were up by 11 (45-34) at the break after matching their highest scoring half of the season. To their credit the Thundering Herd struck back, on the way to leading by seven (57-50) with six minutes to go. UTEP climbed back to within one (61-60), but Zec’s jumper from inside the free-throw line in the waning seconds spun out. After a foul, Marshall’s Khadaijia Brooks connected on both free throws. UTEP called timeout to advance the ball, but Jordan Alexander’s desperation 3-pointer to tie it came up short. UTEP continued to be plagued by injuries, suiting up only seven players. Ariona Gill, who had missed eight straight games with an injury, came off the bench to pitch in two points and three assists in 10 minutes of action. Every other Miner played at least 20 minutes, with Puc (career-high 39 minutes), Zec (38 minutes) and Ocuane (career-high tying 37 minutes) securing the most time. The Miners moved the ball effectively, recording 17 assists on their 22 made field goals. They also took care of it well, turning it over just nine times. UTEP held the Thundering Herd to 37.7 percent from the floor, including 26.7 percent (8-30) from distance. The Miners shot extremely well in the first half, connecting on 51.5 percent (17-33). They cooled off after the break, going 5-30 (16.7 percent) during the second half. 

 

INJURY-RIDDLED UTEP FALLS AT CHARLOTTE (AT CHARLOTTE 62, UTEP 39, 1/26/19)

Juniors Zuzanna Puc (13 points) and Katarina Zec (11 points) both hit double figures in scoring but injury-depleted UTEP was handed a 62-39 setback at Charlotte on Jan. 26. Down to just six healthy players as result of injuries, the Miners did their best to hold their own against the homestanding 49ers. UTEP battled and trailed by just one (8-7) with 3:24 left in the first quarter. The home side picked things up, wrapping a 17-2 run around the break on the way to eventually leading by 17 (34-17) heading into halftime. UTEP continued to get after it over the final 20 minutes, peeling off nine straight points midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get back into it fully as Charlotte improved to 10-1 on the season at Halton Arena. UTEP won the rebounding battle (31-29), thanks in part to Puc’s game-high nine boards, but it was hurt by shooting 30.6 percent (15-49) from the floor while also committing 25 turnovers. The 49ers took advantage by converting those giveaways into 31 points, while also connecting on 50.0 percent (25-50) from the floor. Included among that was finishing 12-21 (57.1 percent) from distance. Each Miner logged at least 25 minutes in the game, with Zec playing the entire tilt. Puc (38 minutes) matched her career high while Neidy Ocuane (37 minutes) and Jade Rochelle (25 minutes) had personal bests. 

 

SHORT-HANDED UTEP FALLS AT ODU (AT ODU 78, UTEP 59, 1/24/19)

Jordan Alexander tallied a team-high 15 points and short-handed UTEP battled before running out of steam in a 78-59 loss at Old Dominion on Jan. 24. The Miners fell behind by 12 (13-1) seven minutes into the contest before digging in to try to fight back. UTEP twice got the margin to four and trailed by only eight (56-48) through three quarters before fatigue became a factor. The Lady Monarchs outscored the visitors, 22-11, in the final frame to pull away for their fifth straight win. The Orange and Blue finished the contest with six healthy players, as both Jordan Jenkins and Alexa Hoy sustained injuries during the game. UTEP shot 34.7 percent (17-49) from the floor, including making six triples, while also enjoying a big day at the charity stripe (19-27, 70 percent). The Miners also won the boards (38-35, ODU). The homestanding Lady Monarchs made up for it by shooting a bit better (29-64, 45.3 percent) and taking great care of the ball (seven turnovers). Katarina Zec tallied 11 points, including nailing two triples, to join Alexander in double figures. Neidy Ocuane matched her career high with eight points. Ariana Taylor, Zuzanna Puc and Jade Rochelle all finished with seven points while Hoy pitched in six before leaving with the aforementioned injury,

 

UTEP DOWNED BY C-USA LEADER MIDDLE TENNESSEE (MT 79, AT UTEP 49, 1/19/19)

UTEP hung tough early with league-leading Middle Tennessee before the visitors found another level in an eventual 79-49 defeat on Jan. 19 at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners trailed by just four (14-10) with 4:31 to play in the first quarter only to have the Blue Raiders rip off a 36-7 half-closing run to head into the locker room armed with a 50-17 advantage. To its credit UTEP continued to battle after the break and was rewarded by outscoring the first place team in the league, 32-29, over the final 20 minutes. Zuzanna Puc (17 points) and Jordan Alexander (14 points) reached double digits in scoring for the Miners, who were plagued by an off shooting day. UTEP finished at 28.6 percent (12-42) from the floor in the contest. MT cooled off in the second half but still finished at 44.4 percent (26-63) for the game. The visitors also drained 11 3-pointers to the Miners’ four triples. UTEP committed only 11 turnovers and was credited with nine helpers on its 12 made field goals. Puc pulled down a team-high eight rebounds while Jade Rochelle (six) and Alexa Hoy (career-high five) also got involved on the glass. MT was led by A’Queen Hayes, who finished with a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds). Alexis Whittington (13 points) and Taylor Sutton (10 points) also reached double figures for the Blue Raiders.

 

UTEP TOPPLED BY PRESEASON FAVORITE UAB (UAB 74, AT UTEP 48, 1/17/19)

Junior Zuzanna Puc notched her fourth double-double (11 points, career-high 13 rebounds) of the year while sophomore Alexa Hoy joined her in double figures (team-high 13 points) but UTEP couldn’t sustain a strong start in a 74-48 setback to preseason league favorite UAB at the Don Haskins Center on Jan. 17. The Miners got off to a much-needed good start, leading by seven (11-4) with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter. The Blazers regrouped and struck back in the form of a 34-6 run to suddenly surge out by 21 (38-17) late in the opening half. The home side played hard the rest of the way, but the damage had been done. UTEP was hindered by an off shooting night, finishing at a season-low 26.6 percent (17-64) from the floor. It was a different story for the Blazers, who connected on 44.8 percent (26-57) of their shots. UAB also was locked in from distance, nailing 13-29 (44.8 percent) from beyond-the-arc. The Orange and Blue tried to make up for that by taking good care of the ball (12 turnovers), winning the boards (42-38), enjoying a 21-0 margin in second-chance points and a 28-22 differential in points in the paint but it wasn’t enough. Jade Rochelle came off the bench to tally nine points while also grabbing six boards, buoying the efforts of Puc and Hoy. Rachael Childress (18 points), Lea Kerstein (16 points) and Katelynn Thomas (16 points) led the charge for the visitors while Deanna Kuzmanic added eight points. It marked the 13th consecutive road win in C-USA play for the defending regular-season league champions. 

 

UTEP FALLS TO RICE ON THE ROAD (AT RICE 76, UTEP 42, 1/12/19)

Freshman Ariana Taylor reached double figures in scoring (12 points) for the second straight game but league-leading Rice used a big day on the boards and a barrage of 3-pointers to clip the Miners, 76-42, inside Tudor Fieldhouse on Jan. 12. The Miners had an off shooting day (13-40, 32.4 percent) and also were challenged in the rebounding department (38-24), as the Owls won their sixth straight game and for the 13th time in the past 14 contests. Rice connected on 50.0 percent (27-54) from the floor, including drilling 12-26 (46.2 percent) from 3-point range. It is just the third time in 47 game of the Kevin Baker era that an opponent has finished at 50.0 percent or better from the floor. Taylor came off the bench to post a team-high 12 points, giving her back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts for the first time of her career. Sophomore Alexa Hoy continued her strong play of late with nine points while senior Jordan Alexander added eight and junior Katarina Zec pitched in seven.

 

UTEP DISPATCHED AT NORTH TEXAS (AT NORTH TEXAS 70, UTEP 51, 1/10/19)

Freshman Ariana Taylor (13 points) and sophomore Alexa Hoy (12 points) reached double figures in scoring but a tough start loomed large in UTEP’s 70-51 deficit against North Texas at the Super Pit on Jan. 10. The Miners found themselves down 11 (14-3) three minutes into the contest, with the Mean Green connecting on their first six shots. UTEP did its best to withstand the early barrage, battling to get within five (35-30) midway through the third quarter only to have a 9-0 UNT run put the game out of reach for good. The Miners finished at 34.6 percent (18-52) from the floor, which was hindered by a readout of 22.2 percent (4-18) from 3-point range. After the quick start shooting by the home side UTEP tightened up, resulting in UNT checking in at 41.9 percent (26-62). The Mean Green won the boards (43-37), despite Taylor (career-high seven rebounds) and Zuzanna Puc (seven boards) putting in some work on the glass.  The Orange and Blue did take good care of the ball with only 12 giveaways but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the other areas.

 

HOY’S CARER DAY HELPS MINERS RACE PAST ROADRUNNERS (UTEP 73, AT UTSA 60, 1/5/19)

Sophomore Alexa Hoy poured in a career-high 22 points off the bench to pace a trio of Miners in double figures as UTEP toppled UTSA, 73-60, on the road in the Conference USA opener for both squads inside the Convocation Center on Jan. 5. The first true road victory of the year for the Miners moves them to 11-3 all time in C-USA lidlifters. The Roadrunners didn’t make it easy by bolting to a 10-point (22-12) lead early in the second quarter, but behind Hoy’s 12 points in the frame UTEP pulled even (30-30) at half. The Miners were up by two (49-47) before using a huge fourth quarter (24-13) to post the double-digit victory. Jordan Alexander (season-high 18 points) and Zuzanna Puc (15 points) joined Hoy in double figures for scoring while freshmen Ariana Taylor (eight points) and Sabine Lipe (seven points) also got after it. UTEP crushed the Roadrunners, the top offensive-rebounding team in the league, on the boards (45-28), with Alexander snagging 11 rebounds to post her second double-double this season. Lipe got involved as well by pulling down a career-best seven caroms. The Miners shot 45.3 percent (24-53) from the floor, including connecting on 8-20 (40.0 percent) from distance. UTEP shared the ball effectively, racking up 17 assists on its 24 field goals made. It was a different story for the home side, which was limited to 33.3 percent (22-66) shooting, including 22.7 percent (5-22) on 3-point tries. But the story of the day was Hoy, who put on a show in front of her mom, aunt and grandmother. She nailed 7-12 from the floor, including 2-5 from distance. She also made 6-7 free throws, including 5-6 in the final frame, to help ice the contest.

 

IMPRESSIVE COMEBACK

UTEP erased a 10-point deficit (22-12) in the second quarter on the way to winning by 13 (73-60) at UTSA (1/5/19). It marked the first time since a 78-66 victory at Florida Atlantic (1/21/16) that the Miners overcame a double-digit deficit to prevail by at least 10 points on the road. 

 

TALKING LEAGUE OPENERS

UTEP improved to 11-3 in Conference USA openers since joining the league (2005-06), including now standing a perfect 2-0 in the situation under Kevin Baker. Furthermore the Miners have now won nine of their last 10 league lid lifters. Overall UTEP stands 16-22 all time in conference lid lifters.  

 

LUCKY 7

Guard Sabine Lipe had seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the win at UTSA (1/5/19), making her the first Miner freshman to have a stat line of at least 7-7-7 in those categories since Shalana Taylor recorded a triple-double (12-11-10) in a 71-50 win against Hawaii on Feb. 19, 2005.

 

UTEP TRIPPED UP AT TULSA (AT TULSA 66, UTEP 45, 12/29/18)

Katarina Zec (season-high 16 points) and Zuzanna Puc (13 points) each reached double figures in scoring but a slow start proved fatal in UTEP’s 66-45 setback at Tulsa on Dec. 29. The Miners dug themselves a 20-point hole (25-5) through 10 minutes of action and could never recovery against the Golden Hurricane. UTEP won the second (11-10) and third quarters (18-14) before being outpaced slightly (17-11) in the final frame. The Orange and Blue were without their second-leading scorer (Ariona Gill), who missed the contest with an injury. Freshman Sabine Lipe started in her place, contributing a career-best six assists and three boards. UTEP finished at 32.7 percent (18-55) from the floor, recording 13 assists on its 18 made field goals. It also took decent care of the ball with 15 turnovers, but the first quarter was too much to overcome. Rebounding favored Tulsa slightly (36-33), but the Miners enjoyed a 26-20 cushion for points in the paint. Jade Rochelle set the tone for the Orange and Blue on the boards by grabbing a team-best seven caroms. In terms of scoring, Jordan Alexander (seven points), Ariana Taylor (five points) and Rochelle (four points) followed after Zec and Puc.

 

TAYLOR SCORES CAREER-HIGH 16 BUT UTEP FALLS TO AKRON (VS. AKRON 64, UTEP 57, 12/21/18)

Freshman Ariana Taylor came off the bench to pour in a career-high 16 points but UTEP was upended against Akron, 64-57, in its second and final game at the Vegas South Point Holiday Hoops Classic on Dec. 21. The Miners trailed by 10 (41-31) with 6:17 to play in the third quarter before the bench essentially orchestrated a 12-0 run to give them their first lead since it was 4-2 in the opening frame. It was back-and-forth the rest of the way, before the Zips used a 6-0 run late to create some separation and hold on for the win. UTEP’s reserves proved their worth, accounting for 37 of the team’s 57 points on the night. The Miners connected on 41.3 percent (19-46) of their shots while going 15-18 at the charity stripe. UTEP took good care of the ball, committing only 10 turnovers. All 10 Miners suited up played between 18-26 minutes during the contest. Taylor was the lone member of the Orange and Blue to reach double figures in scoring. Katarina Zec buoyed her with eight, followed by Sabine Lipe (career-high tying seven) and Alexa Hoy (five).

 

UTEP SHOOTS PAST WESTERN ILLINOIS (UTEP 84, VS. WESTERN ILLINOIS 72, 12/20/18)

Zuzanna Puc posted a double-double (season-best 24 points, 11 rebounds) and UTEP erupted for a season high in points in an 84-72 win against Western Illinois as part of the Las Vegas South Point Holiday Hoops Classic on Dec. 20. The Miners  shot a campaign-best 53.6 percent (30-56) from the floor, aided by nailing a season-high 11 3-pointers on 19 attempts for their top percentage (.579) from distance on the year to snap an eight-game skid in style. UTEP led for 30 minutes against the Fighting Leathernecks, including being up by as many as 20 (77-57) in the fourth quarter. Puc had a field day against a WIU squad that didn’t have a player taller than 6’0, shooing 9-18 from the floor and securing four of her 11 rebounds on the offensive end. She was the lone member of the Orange and Blue to reach double figures in scoring, but every Miner had least four points in the contest. Puc led with 24, followed by Alexa Hoy (nine points), Jordan Alexander (eight points), Ariona Gill (eight points), Neidy Ocuane (career-high eight points), Sabine Lipe (career-best seven points), Katarina Zec (seven points), Jade Rochelle (five points), Jordan Jenkins (four points) and Ariana Taylor (four points). UTEP shared the ball well, recording 23 assists on 30 made field goals. Jenkins set the tone in that department with a career-high tying seven dimes compared to just one giveaway. Gill added a personal-best matching four helpers. The Miners also dominated on the boards (41-27) and in points in the paint (34-20)

 

UTEP DISPATCHED AT ARIZONA (AT ARIZONA 62, UTEP 40, 12/17/18)

UTEP held Arizona to its lowest scoring total of the season but turnovers and not enough shots falling loomed large in a 62-40 road setback inside the McKale Center on Dec. 17. RS-Junior Ariona Gill (11 points) and senior Jordan Alexander (10 points) hit double figures in scoring to pace the Miners, who limited the Wildcats to 17 points below their season average (78.6 ppg). UTEP also won the boards (36-31) but couldn’t get into a good rhythm consistently against the homestanding Wildcats. The Miners finished at 36.6 (15-41) percent from the floor, but of greater concern were the 19 turnovers that resulted in 23 points for the home side. It was a different story for UA, which had only nine giveaways and shot 40.9 percent (25-61) from the field. Freshman Ariana Taylor provided a spark off the bench with eight points and a career-high tying four rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Fellow classmate Sabine Lipe added a career-best five points, including a fancy old-fashioned 3-point play in transition.

 

UTEP FALLS TO UNDEFEATED PORTLAND STATE (PORTLAND STATE 89, AT UTEP 61, 12/9/18)

Redshirt-junior Ariona Gill posted her first career double-double (17 points, career-best 12 rebounds) but an off shooting day and a balanced offensive attack from the visitors proved problematic in UTEP’s 89-61 loss to undefeated Portland State at the Don Haskins Center on Dec. 9. Jade Rochelle (career-high 11 points) and Ariana Taylor (career-high 10 points) came off the bench to provide a spark for the Miners, who played the second half without leading scorer and rebound Zuzanna Puc. Jordan Alexander added eight points and eight boards, but the Vikings simply had too much firepower. PSU was paced by Kylie Jimenez’s 21 points while Ashley Bolston (18 points), Sidney Rielly (14 points) and Ana Tainta (13 points) also had big days. The Miners finished at 32.8 percent (20-61) from the floor, including 25.0 percent (3-12) from 3-point range. It was a different story for the Vikings, who drained 44.2 percent (34-77) of their attempts on the day. PSU had a slight edge in rebounding (45-41), with the 11 rebounds by Desirae Hanson in 20 minutes making a difference for her squad. The Vikings also had significant advantages in points in the paint (42-28) and fastbreak points (24-21). UTEP shared the ball effectively, recording 15 assists on 20 made field goals. 

 

PUC TALLIES SEASON-HIGH 21 POINTS IN LOSS AT UNM (AT NEW MEXICO 69, UTEP 51, 12/5/18)

Zuzanna Puc poured in a season-high 21 points, including 10 during a big first quarter, but UTEP couldn’t sustain its fast start in a 69-51 loss at New Mexico on Dec. 5. The Miners bolted out to a 19-10 advantage through 10 minutes of action, with Puc single-handily matching the Lobos for scoring in the frame. The home side regrouped and responded in a big way to pull away over the final three quarters. In spite of that, UTEP kept the Lobos to a season-low 69 points. UNM entered the game putting up 81 points per game and was flying high after routing NM State, 83-58, last time out on Dec. 1. Jordan Jenkins (eight points, five assists) and Jordan Alexander (seven points, nine boards) buoyed the efforts of Puc. UTEP recorded 15 assists on its 20 made field goals while also keeping things competitive on the glass (41-38, UNM). Overall the Miners connected on 36.4 percent (20-55) from the floor, including a sizzling 53.3 percent (8-15) over the first 10 minutes of action.

 

A-STATE SLIPS PAST UTEP (ARKANSAS STATE 67, AT UTEP 66, 12/1/18)

UTEP connected on 50 percent of its shots (23-46) and won the rebounding battle (37-31) but visiting Arkansas State escaped with a 67-66 win at the Don Haskins on Dec. 1. The Miners led by two (66-64) before Akasha Westbrook converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Red Wolves up by one (67-66) with 13 seconds left. UTEP called timeout to advance the ball and looked to retake the lead but it wasn’t in the cards as redshirt-junior Neidy Ocuane was called for a change with less than a second to play. UTEP had led by as many as 10 (37-27, 8:23 3Q) early in the second half, and the margin was still at five (48-43) going into the fourth quarter before A-State rallied. Redshirt-junior Ariona Gill (17 points), Alexander (13 points) and junior Zuzanna Puc (12 points) set the tone offensively for the Miners. Transfer Jade Rochelle pitched in eight points and a career-best nine rebounds in a personal-best 24 minutes played. UTEP held A-State to 38.7 percent (24-62) from the floor, including just 23.5 percent (4-17) from 3-point range. The visitors compensated for that by forcing 23 Miner turnovers that were converted into 27 points. Another factor was A-State, which entered the contest leading the nation in both free throws made and attempted, going 15-26 at the charity stripe. Included in that was a 12-22 effort in the second half. UTEP was 12-13 from the free-throw line, including 8-9 in the final 20 minutes. 

 

NEARLY PERFECT AT THE LINE

UTEP nailed 12-13 from the free-throw line against Arkansas State (12/1). It marked the ninth-highest percentage (92.3) in a single game at program history. Zuzanna Puc and Jade Rochelle keyed the efforts by both going 4-4.

 

BLOCK PARTY

UTEP was credited with its most blocked shots (eight) of the Kevin Baker era in the setback against Arkansas State (12/1). Zuzanna Puc set the tone with a career-best four rejections. Ariona Gill also established a personal best with two blocks while Jordan Alexander and Jade Rochelle added one each.

 

MINERS UPENDED AT WEBER STATE (AT WEBER STATE 68, UTEP 63 11/28/18)

Jordan Alexander produced her first double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) of the year while  Katarina Zec added a season-high 15 points but a slow start doomed UTEP in its 68-63 setback at Weber State on Nov. 28. The Miners were sluggish at the onset, with the Wildcats capitalizing in the form of a 15-0 run over the first five minutes of the game. UTEP went to work from the point on, getting the deficit all the way down to two (43-41, 4:07 3Q) midway through the third quarter. WSU responded five a 5-0 run and the Miners couldn’t get closer than five the rest of the way. UTEP piled up 15 assists on 22 made field goals, while tying for the fewest turnovers (six) in a road game in program history. The boards (42-41, WSU) were competitive as well but the home side found some separation with its shooting. WSU nailed 44.2 percent (23-52) from the field, including drilling 10-21 (47.6 percent) from 3-point range. Conversely, the Miners finished at 29.7 percent (22-74) from the floor. The Miners hit a season-best nine triples but needed the second-most attempts (33) in program history to do so. Zec drilled a quartet of triples while Alexander connected on 3-6 from beyond-the-arc. Jade Rochelle came off the bench to contribute career bests in both points (eight) and rebounds (eight), while Alexa Hoy added nine. Ariona Gill chipped in six points and career-high six boards. 

 

ABILENE CHRISTIAN OUTLASTS UTEP (ABILENE CHRISTIAN 70, AT UTEP 69, 11/24/18)

Ariona Gill poured in a career-high 22 points while Zuzanna Puc added 18 points but visiting Abilene Christian outlasted UTEP, 70-69, in the final game of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 24. The Miners trailed the Wildcats by as many as 15 (23-8) in the opening quarter but they slowly but surely chipped away at the deficit. UTEP reduced the margin to seven (37-30) at the break before managing to take a one-point edge (50-49) heading to the fourth quarter. It was a back-and-fourth battle down the stretch, with ACU going back on top for good with a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left. An unlucky pass led to Gill having to race down the ball before heaving up a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer. UTEP drilled 52.5 percent (31-59) from the floor while also committing the then fewest turnovers (nine) of the Kevin Baker era but ACU was locked in offensively as well. The Wildcats drilled 51.1 percent (24-47) of their shots, including draining 14-28 (50.0) from beyond-the-arc. They also won the boards, 29-23. Katarina Zec pitched in 11 points to join Gill and Puc in double figures. Four different Miners registered five assists each to help UTEP pile up a season-best 24 assists. Dominique Golightly (18 points) and Makayla Mabry (17 points) led the way for ACU. The duo combined to make 10-17 from 3-point range.

 

POUNDING IT IN THE PAINT

UTEP attacked Abilene Christian down low, piling up 50 points in the paint. It marked the first time that the Miners have amassed that many points in the paint against a DI opponent since also tallying 50 in an 83-62 home win against FIU on Feb. 8, 2014.

 

COMEBACK BID FALLS SHORT TO NICHOLLS (NICHOLLS STATE 58, AT UTEP 56, 11/23/18)

Ariona Gill (14 points) and Jordan Alexander (season-high 12 points) hit double figures in scoring as UTEP rallied back from a 17-point second-quarter deficit to regain the lead several occasions in the fourth quarter only to have visiting Nicholls State pull out a 58-56 win as part of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center Friday afternoon. The Miners (2-2) trailed 28-11 with 2:56 to play in the second period but they refused to quit against the Colonels (1-4). The home side used a huge third quarter (23-12) to get back within striking distance heading to the final frame. UTEP continued its push in the fourth quarter, going up by three (45-42) with 7:44 left. Nicholls State countered with eight straight points to vault out by five (50-45) before the Miners tallied the next six points to jump ahead by one (51-50). It was a seesaw battle the rest of the way, with a pair of free throws from Cassidy Barrios providing the seventh and final lead change with 52 seconds left. UTEP had a chance to tie or win it with two seconds left, but was unable to get a shot off.  Barrios produced a game-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the way for Nicholls State. She was supported by a nine-point effort from Kinzie Heineman. UTEP connected 42.6 percent (20-47) from the floor, including 8-20 on 3-pointers, while also committing a season-low 13 turnovers but issues elsewhere doomed the home side. The Miners were 8-17 on free throws and were outrebounded, 34-27.

 

BOMBS AWAY

The Miners nailed a season-high eight 3-pointers in the setback vs. Nicholls State (11/23). Leading the charge was senior Jordan Alexander, who drilled a career-best four treys on five attempts on the way to a season-best 12 points.

 

UTEP RALLY FALLS SHOT TO NM STATE (NM STATE 69, AT UTEP 65, 11/17/18)

Zuzanna Puc registered her second straight double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) and UTEP battled valiantly but its comeback bid came up short in a 69-65 defeat to NM State in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 17. The Miners dug themselves an 18-5 hole nine minutes into the game, allowing the four-time defending WAC regular-season champion Aggies a much greater cushion than they needed. UTEP went to work, reducing the deficit to eight (30-22) at the break. The margin remained eight (53-45) with 7:14 remaining in regulation before the Miners uncorked an 11-3 surge to finally pull even at 56 with 3:03 left. NM State didn’t flinch, countering with 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to extend its advantage back to six (62-56). UTEP inched within three (64-61) with 1:08 left but the Aggies put the game away by nailing their eighth and final triple of the contest. Katarina Zec (14 points), Ariona Gill (14 points) and Alexa Hoy (career-high 13 points) joined Puc in double figures for scoring. Neidy Ocuane got involved as well, setting career bests for points (five), rebounds (five) and assists (three).

 

UTEP GRINDS OUT WIN VS. CSUB (AT UTEP 53, CSU BAKERSFIELD 47, 11/14/18)

Zuzanna Puc registered her fifth career double-double (12 points, personal-best tying 12 rebounds), and the defense did the rest in UTEP’s 53-47 win against CSU Bakersfield at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 14. The Miners held the Roadrunners to 28.8 percent (17-59) from the field, while also winning the rebounding battle (46-34) in the tightly-contested ballgame. UTEP outscored CSUB, 19-9, in the final frame to rally back from a four-point deficit (38-34) through 30 minutes of action. There were six ties and eight lead changes, with the final with coming during a 9-0 Miner run in the fourth quarter. The surge, which spanned roughly five minutes, turned a 41-36 deficit into a 45-41 advantage. UTEP never relinquished the lead from that point. The biggest shot was a 3-pointer by Neidy Ocuane, which proved to be the lone triple (1-20) of the game for the Orange and Blue. CSUB did fight back to tie the contest, 47-47, but the Miners pitched a shutout over the final 2:18. Katarina Zec connected on 6-8 at the charity stripe in that sequence to give the home side just enough to pull out the win. Zec finished with nine points and eight boards to support Puc, while Jordan Alexander contributed eight points and a quartet of rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins added six points and a career-high tying five boards. The Roadrunners were led by 13 points and 12 boards from Malayasia McHenry. CSUB’s Alexxus Gilbert and Jazmine Johnson were held to a total of 14 points on a combined 4-16 shooting. The duo entered the contest contributing 29.5 ppg on a combined 22-49 from the floor. 

 

UTEP DOWNS ALCORN STATE IN OPENER (AT UTEP 77, ALCORN STATE 51, 11/10/18)

Zuzanna Puc poured in 18 points to pace a quartet of players in double figures as the UTEP women’s basketball team cruised to a 77-51 season-opening win vs. Alcorn State on Nov. 10. Ariona Gill (15 points), Jordan Jenkins (career-high 11 points, six assists) and Katarina Zec (11 points, personal-best tying nine rebounds) also got after it for the Miners. UTEP connected on 52.6 percent (30-57) from the floor, tied for the sixth-best rebounding margin (+27, 48-21) in program history and racked up 23 assists on 30 made field goals. They held ASU to 30.2 percent (16-53) shooting and forced 20 turnovers. Conchi Satorre pitched in five points and a trio of boards in 10 minutes of action to lead the reserves in scoring. The Lady Braves scored the first two points of the contest on a jumper, but UTEP punched back with a 12-0 surge over the next five minutes. The home side never trailed again.

 

BIGGEST WIN UNDER COACH BAKER

UTEP’s 26-point romp against Alcorn State served as its largest margin of victory under head coach Kevin Baker. The previous high was a 20-point differential (69-49) vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18, 2017.

 

START IT UP

UTEP improved to 25-20 all time in season openers, including 21-7 when doing so in El Paso. The Miners are now 2-0 under Kevin Baker in season lidlifters.

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