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File: UTEP's #12 Sparkle Taylor

H-P Sports In Depth: UTEP Continues Homestand Thursday vs Florida Atlantic

UTEP (6-20 3-11 C-USA) will look generate some momentum for the stretch run of the season when it squares off with Florida Atlantic (4-21, 0-14 C-USA) in its “Play 4 Kay” game at 7:05 p.m. MST Thursday.

In an effort to raise the awareness for the battle against breast cancer, all fans who wear pink will get in free.

After playing four straight road games, UTEP is in the midst of four in-a-row at home. The ‘05-06 season-their first in Conference USA- was the last time the Miners did that. The Miners are looking for a season series sweep for the second time in as many years; UTEP secured a nail-baiting 51-50 victory in Boca Raton against the Owls on Jan. 14, 2017.

Following the FAU game, UTEP will wrap up the home portion of its schedule by playing host to FIU at 2 p.m. MST Saturday. The lone senior on the squad (Sparkle Taylor) will be honored before the game.

Taylor needs 10 points to climb into third all time at UTEP for career scoring.

After a 3-2 start to the season, FAU has run into some problems by losing 15 straight and 19 of 20.  Meanwhile, the Miners have lost a season-high six straight games, including back-to-back single-digit affairs. They haven’t dropped seven consecutive contests since 2001-02 (L 18), which was Keitha Adams’s first year at UTEP.

UTEP is 5-8 at home (2-5 C-USA). Florida Atlantic is 8-4 on the road (3-4 C-USA). The Miners have a +1.8 scoring margin (70.8-69.1) and a +5.5 rebounding margin (43.5-37.9) in their 13 home games (5-8) this year. Four of those five victories have been by double digits.

UTEP is currently tied for 12th in the C-USA standings with FIU at 3-11. Good results this week could go a long way ensuring the Miners a spot in the C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS.

Steve Kaplowitz (play-by-play) and Traci Miller (color commentary) will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. There will be a live stream on UTEPAthletics (subscription based). Fans can also stay up-to-date by following the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Owls (@FAU_WBB) on Twitter.

THIS AND THAT ON CONFERENCE USA

–  Teams play all 13 members at least once and face five teams in home-and-home for 18-game C-USA slate.

–  The top 12 teams (14 in C-USA) will qualify for the single-elimination C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS (March 8-11, Birmingham, Ala.-UAB) with the top four teams as seeded by regular season standings receiving a bye. The winner will gain the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

–  WKU (12-2), Middle Tennessee (12-3), Southern Miss (10-5), Louisiana Tech (10-5), Charlotte (9-5), Old Dominion (9-5), North Texas (8-6), Rice (7-7) and UTSA (7-7) have all locked up a bid to the C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS while UAB (6-9) is on the verge of doing so.

–  Marshall (4-10), UTEP (3-11), FIU (3-11) and FAU (0-14) are essentially fighting over the final two spots.

 INSIDE THE SERIES (UTEP LEADS, 3-2 OVERALL; TIED 1-1 IN EL PASO)

–  UTEP has claimed the past three match-ups with FAU, including rallying back from 13 points to emerge victorious, 51-50, at FAU (1/14/17) earlier this year. It tied as the program’s sixth-largest comeback in program history, with the Owls’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer rimming out.

–  The Miners are aiming for their second straight season series sweep. UTEP won both match-ups last year by double digits (W, 78-66, at FAU, 1/21/16 & W, 75-47, at home, 2/13/16)

–  Florida Atlantic had won the first two match-ups between the schools. It knocked off UTEP, 68-63, in El Paso on Feb. 5, 2015. The Owls handed UTEP a 98-62 loss in Boca Raton on March 5, 2014, hitting a C-USA record 20 three-pointers in that contest.

GETTING TO KNOW FLORIDA ATLANTIC

Overall: 4-21   Home: 4-10 Road: 0-11  Neutral: 0-0  |  C-USA: 0-14  Home: 0-7   Road: 0-7

–  Florida Atlantic returned three starters and eight letter winners from last year’s team (14-16, 6-12 C-USA).

–  Got off to 3-2 start on the season but is 1-19 since, including losing 15 consecutive contests.

–  Four (all in C-USA play) of the Owls’ setbacks on the season have been by single digits, including the 51-50 UTEP win in Boca Raton, Fla., on Jan. 14, 2017.

–  FAU is fifth in Conference USA at 39.0 rebounds/game.

–  FAU is 12th or worse the league in nine of the 16 major team stat categories,

–  Among C-USA players Raven Doyle is 15th in rebounding (6.3) and 15th in defensive boards/game (4.0).

–  Katelyn O’Reilly ranks 12th in field-goal percentage (49.4).

–  Leading scorer Sasha Cedeno (9.8 points/game) is 12th in three pointers/game (1.8). That consistent effort from distance has also placed her 246th nationally.

–  Notable alumni include Don Brewer (drummer & founding member of the band Grand Funk Railroad), Fern “Peachy” Kellymeyer (1999 Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee) and Carrot Top (Prop Comedian with Vegas Show)

LAST MEETING WITH FLORIDA ATLANTIC: UTEP 51, at Florida Atlantic 50 (1/14/17)

–  UTEP wrapped a 19-5 run around halftime to fuel a comeback and morale-boosting 51-50 win at Florida Atlantic on Jan. 14, 2017.

–  The Miners trailed the Owls by as many 13 (25-12, 3:42 2Q) displayed tremendous grit to storm back ahead (31-30,3:43) before the two sides traded scores the rest of the way. There were five ties and nine lead changes, and FAU had a chance to win at the buzzer. This time, though, fate was on the side of the Miners with FAU’s top scorer Sasha Cedeno’s three pointer hitting both sides of the rim before dropping out.

–  Tamara Seda posted her third straight and team-leading eight double-double (13 points, 14 rebounds) to lead the way while Najala Howell (10 points) and Sparkle Taylor (eight points, eight boards) also proved key.

GOING BACK IN TIME: Rice 80, at UTEP 76 (2/18/17)

–  Sparkle Taylor poured in 34 points to become the first player in program history to post back-to-back 30+ point games and Tamara Seda recorded her 10th double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) of the year but it wasn’t enough UTEP was edged by Rice, 80-76, at home on Feb. 18.

–  The Miners battled valiantly in a back-and-forth game that featured 11 ties and 14 lead changes. The Owls led by just two (62-60) with 4:46 to play before consecutive three pointers put UTEP in an eight-point hole (68-60, 3:50). The Miners took the blow in stride and trimmed the deficit down to two (78-76) with 20 seconds to play but Maya Hawkins put the game on ice with two free throws.

–  Lulu McKinney scored 13 points (two shy of season high) to join Taylor and Seda in double digits but no other Miner had more than six points in the contest. The day, though, belonged to Taylor. She nailed 12-19 from the floor, including draining her second three pointer of the campaign, while also going 9-10 on the charity stripe.

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