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Home | Sports | UTEP | HP Sports In-Depth: Undefeated Miners Set for Thanksgiving Classic Friday

HP Sports In-Depth: Undefeated Miners Set for Thanksgiving Classic Friday

UTEP (2-0) will lock up with Southeastern Conference foe Arkansas (3-1) in the sixth edition of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at 2:30 p.m. MST Friday.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, which will also grant individuals admission into the first match-up of the day, NM State (1-2) vs. Texas Southern (0-2) at 12 p.m.. at the Classic.

The Miners will face Texas Southern at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the second day of the Classic, with NM State and Arkansas battling at 12 p.m.

Tickets for that match-up are also $5 for adults and $3 for kids, with fans getting in to both games for the price of one.

Each of the Miners’ contests at the event will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio and there will also be a live stream on CUSAtv.com (subscription-based).

INSIDE THE UTEP THANKSGIVING CLASSIC
This is the sixth edition of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic. The event was held from 2007-10 before a hiatus until its return in 2015. It was not contested last year but is back again in 2017. UTEP is 7-2 all time in its Thanksgiving Classic, including claiming the title in 2009 and 2015. There was no champion in 2007, as day two of action was cancelled to due to snow in the region.

Monmouth took home the crown in 2008 while Arkansas was the event champion in 2010. For complete all-time results of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic please see the chart on page five.

HOME FOR A WHILE
The tilt is the third of a season-opening six-game homestand, with Texas Southern (2:30 p.m. Saturday), New Mexico (5:30 p.m. Nov. 30) and Houston Baptist (1 p.m. Dec. 2) also on the docket. It ties as the second longest homestand to start a season in program history.

GAME FORMAT
For the third straight season, NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters. Teams reach the bonus and shoot two free throws on the fifth team foul in each quarter. In the four-quarter format, team fouls reset to zero at the start of each quarter. Teams have four timeouts (three 30s, one 60), three which carry over to the second half. They will be able to advance the ball to the frontcourt after a timeout with less than 59.9 seconds in 4Q. There are seven media timeouts (four under five minutes in quarter/first called), two intermission media timeouts (after first and third quarters) and the first team-called timeout during the second half. Bands or amplified music may play during any dead ball.

CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Fans are encouraged to connect with the Miners on Facebook (UTEP Women’s Basketball), Instagram (@utepwbb) and Twitter (@UTEPWBB). They are also encouraged to use #WeAreMiners in posts.

INSIDE THE SERIES (ARKANSAS LEADS, 2-0 OVERALL; ARKANSAS LEADS 1-0 IN EL PASO)
Arkansas has won both meetings against the Miners, with the most-recent one coming at the 2010 UTEP Thanksgiving Classic. The Razorbacks edged UTEP, 59-56, on Nov. 27, 2010. During the 1989-90 campaign the Miners were dealt an 87-61 road setback on Nov. 24, 1989, in the first match-up between the programs. UTEP is 10-53 all time vs. teams from a power five conference (at point of match-up), but it is 7-10 since ‘12-13.

GETTING TO KNOW ARKANSAS
Arkansas returned three starters and seven letter winners from last year’s team that finished 13-17, including 2-14 in SEC play. The Razorbacks are off to a quick start in 2017-18, winning three of their first four games. They are led by the tandem of Malica Monk (21.3 ppg-35th nation, 5.0 apg, 4.3 rpg) and Devin Cosper (19.3 ppg-84th nation, 7.8 rpg), but Jailyn Mason (8.5 ppg), Kiara Williams (7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Taylah Thomas (6.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg-94th nation) have proven to be key contributors. Arkansas leads the nation in fewest turnovers per game (8.5). It also has top-100 NCAA rankings for turnover margin (+6.0-42nd) and blocks per game (5.3) while just missing out for scoring offense (73.8-101st). Individually Monk is 35th in assist to turnover ratio (+4.0) and points per game (21.3) and Cosper is 21st for double-doubles (two). Notable Arkansas alumni include Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys), Butch Davis (former head coach of the Cleveland Browns) and Walter Keller (developer of the heart pacemaker).

LAST MEETING WITH ARKANSAS: (Arkansas 59, at UTEP 56, Nov. 27, 2010)
UTEP gave Southeastern Conference foe Arkansas everything it wanted before ultimately falling, 59-56, in the championship contest of the fourth-annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 27, 2010. Defense was the dominant theme throughout the tilt, one which featured seven ties and 13 lead changes.

The Miners led by as many as seven (twice in the first half), and were up by two (53-51) after junior Dietra Caldwell drained a triple with 5:50 remaining in regulation. Sarah Watkins pulled the Razorbacks even with a jumper and then Lyndsay Harris drilled a three pointer to afford them a three-point edge (56-53) with 4:32 to play in the period. UTEP, which never trailed by more than three points to the unbeaten UA squad, continued to fight. Behind a trio of Kristine Vitola free throws over the next couple of possessions the Miners were able to tie the game at 56 with 1:36 to play.

The Razorbacks regained the advantage, for good as it would turn out, with a make from C’eira Ricketts at the charity stripe. Ricketts knocked down two more free throws in the waning seconds, putting UA up, 59-56, with 11 seconds to play. Junior Briana Green, who tallied 12 points and a team-high five assists, had a chance to tie the contest with a long three-pointer as time expired. The try came up short, though, allowing the Razorbacks to escape El Paso unscathed.

GOING BACK IN TIME (at UTEP 69, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 49 (11/18/17)
UTEP played well in all facets off the game in a convincing 69-49 victory against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 18. The Miners shot 54.3 percent (25-46) from the floor while stifling the Islanders to a readout of 31.1 percent (19-61), including 4-15 (26.7 percent) from distance.

UTEP won the boards (38-30), racked up 19 assists compared to 14 turnovers and led for the majority of the contest. Najala Howell paced the Orange and Blue with 19 points-one shy of a personal best- while also dishing out a career-high seven assists. Katarina Zec (12 points), Tamara Seda (11 points) and Jakeira Ford (10 points) all joined her in double figures for scoring while Jordan Alexander pitched in seven points. Four different Miners grabbed at least five rebounds, with Ford leading the way with six caroms. UTEP led by two (14-12) after the first quarter before outscoring the visitors 35-16 over the next two frames to blow open the game.

BACK-TO-BACK WINS FOR BAKER
Kevin Baker is the first UTEP head coach to open up their tenure in the Sun City at 2-0 since Craig Roden also did so in 1987-88 and just the third overall in program history to achieve feat. Carol Ammerman peeled off four straight victories in 1974-75, which was the first year of the program. Baker is the eighth head coach at the school.

CONSECUTIVE WINS FOR THE MINERS
UTEP has posted back-to-back wins to start the year, something it achieved just once during the 2016-17 season. In fact at 2-0 on the season the Miners are 1/4th of the way to matching last team’s overall win total (8-23). Additionally it marks the 16th 2-0 start to a season in program history.

ZEC’S CONTRIBUTION
Sophomore Katarina Zec tallied 12 points-one shy of her career high- to help the Miners knock off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18. She connected on five field goals, matching her personal best, on nine tries, while also grabbing three rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Overall for the year Zec is contributing 9.0 ppg and 4.5 rpg in 35.0 mpg.

FORD PROVIDES SPARK FROM BENCH
Sophomore Jakeira Ford came off the bench to tally 10 points while grabbing a team-best six rebounds in the win vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18. Ford hit 5-6 from the floor to match her career high in field goals while also equaling her personal best in assists with two.

COOK FEELING IT FROM DISTANCE
After shooting 19.3 percent (11-57) from 3-point range as a freshman, Faith Cook has drilled 57.1 percent (4-7) from beyond-the-arc through two games of the 2017-18 season. Included in that was going 3-5 from home run-range in the season-opening win against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 11. The three triples shattered her previous best of one (11 different games). Overall Cook is accounting for 9.0 ppg after putting up 1.9 ppg a year ago.

SEDA DOMINATING DOWN LOW
Senior Tamara Seda has been a force to be reckoned with early on in 2017-18. She is accounting for 15.5 points per game while shooting a sizzling 70.6 percent (12-17) from the floor. She has also registered four offensive rebounds and taken 12 free throws. She erupted for a career-high 20 points in the season opener vs. CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 11 before pitching in 11 points in the triumph against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

HOWELL PUTTING UP THE POINTS
Junior Najala Howell has reached double figures in scoring in both games this season, including a 19-point effort (one shy of her career high) last time out against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18. Overall she ranks second on the team in scoring (14.5 ppg) and in field-goal percentage (55.6).

ALEXANDER GETTING AFTER IT
Junior Jordan Alexander, one of two newcomers on this year’s squad, is looking like a difference maker. She paces the team in rebounding (7.5 rpg), free-throws made (13) and attempted (17) while ranking third in scoring (11.0 ppg). All 15 of her rebounds have been at the defensive end, which has helped the Miners produce a +7.0 (37.0-30.0) rebounding margin.

SHARING THE ROCK
UTEP has registered 36 assists on its 46 field goals made (78.3 percent) thus far in 2017-18. Sophomore Najala Howell is leading the way with 10 assists (5.0 apg), which was aided by dishing out a career-high seven helpers vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18.

KNOCKING DOWN SHOTS
UTEP has drilled better than 50.0 percent from the floor in the first two games of the season for the initial occasion since at least 1982-83 (prior records incomplete). Overall the Miners are connecting on 52.9 percent (46-87) from the floor, which was aided by drilling a campaign-high 54.3 percent (25-46) last time out in the win vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

GETTING AFTER IT ON DEFENSE
For the first time 2004-05, the Miners have held their first two opponents on the year to below 33.0 percent from the floor. Overall foes have hit just 32.0 percent (39-122), including a readout of 26.2 percent (11-42) on 3-point attempts.

POINTS AT A PREMIUM FOR THE OPPOSITION
Each of the first two Miner opponents have been held to fewer than 60 points, something that hasn’t happened at the onset of a season since 2012-13. UTEP limited CSU Bakersfield to 56 points in the campaign lid lifter on Nov. 11 before tightening things up to the tune of yielding only 49 points against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18.

SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST
After scoring 37 points through three quarters of action, the Miners erupted for 30 points over the final 10 minutes to erase an eight-point deficit and rally past CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 11. The 30 points are the most scored in the fourth quarter by the Miners in program history and rank tied for fifth-most points in a quarter overall at the school.

MORE ON THAT FINAL FRAME
UTEP shot a sizzling 80 percent (8-10) from the floor in the fourth quarter while limiting CSUB to 18.8 percent (3-16). But perhaps the stat that jumps out above any other over the final 10 minutes is rebounding. UTEP had a whopping 16-2 advantage on the glass in the period, helping it turn a 28-20 deficit in the department through three quarters of action into a final 36-30 margin. UTEP also limited its turnovers to four after entering with 17.

STAUNCH DEFENSE TO START
UTEP yielded only five points in the opening quarter of action in the eventual win against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 11. It set the program standard for fewest points allowed in the first quarter and tied as third for fewest points in a quarter overall.

PLENTY OF PLAYING TIME TO GO AROUND
With Zuzanna Puc sidelined for an injury for the first two games, the Miners had only nine active players in the wins vs. CSU Bakersfield and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The result has been five individuals (Katarina Zec-35.0, Najala Howell-34.5, Jordan Alexander-29.0, Tamara Seda-28.0 and Faith Cook-28.0) logging at least 28.0 minutes per game and two others (Jordan Jenkins-18.5 and Jakeira Ford-17.0) securing at least 17.0 minutes per contest. Roeshonda Patterson (10.0 mpg) is also accounting for double digits playing time per tilt.

IN THE NCAA RANKINGS
The Miners have top-100 NCAA team rankings for field-goal percentage (52.9-seventh), 3-point field-goal percentage (45.5-eighth), field-goal percentage defense (32.0-20th), scoring defense (52.5-24th),assists per game (18.0-47th), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (26.2-70th), fewest personal fouls per game (16.0-72nd), scoring margin (+15.5-73rd), assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.03-91st) and rebound margin (+7.0-93rd). Tamara Seda is 13th in field-goal percentage (70.6) and Faith Cook is 36th for 3-point field-goal percentage (57.1).

GETTING TO KNOW THE 2017-18 MINERS
UTEP returned eight letter winners (Faith Cook, Jakeira Ford, Najala Howell, Roeshonda Patterson, Zuzanna Puc, Tamara Seda, Rachel Tapps and Katarina Zec) from last year’s squad (8-23, 5-11 Conference USA). Puc, Seda and Zec all started for UTEP in 2016-17. The Miners also added four newcomers (Jordan Alexander, Ariona Gill, Jordan Jenkins and Neidy Ocuane) but Gill and Ocuane are slated to take a redshirt year in 2017-18. The squad is under the direction of first-year head coach Kevin Baker, who is assisted by first-year assistants Nicole Dunson, Michael Madrid and Lori Morris.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Head coach Kevin Baker inherited a young team, with 60% of the active roster (6-of-10) comprised of sophomores (Faith Cook, Jakeira Ford, Roeshonda Patterson, Zuzanna Puc, Rachel Tapps and Katarina Zec). The Miners have just three upperclassmen, in the form of one senior (Tamara Seda) to go along with returning junior Najala Howell and junior-college transfer Jordan Alexander. Freshman Jordan Jenkins rounded out the active roster. Two other newcomers (junior-college transfers Ariona Gill and Neidy Ocuane) are sitting out the 2017-18 season as redshirts.

NEW FACES
The Miners have four newcomers to the squad in 2017-18 though two of the additions (junior Ariona Gill, 5-11, G/F, San Jacinto College) and junior Neidy Ocuane (5-5, G, Seward County CC) are redshirting the 2017-18 season. Junior Jordan Alexander (5-11, F, Trinity Valley CC) and true freshman Jordan Jenkins (5-3, G, Buffalo HS) both started the season opener are expected to remain significant contributors throughout the year. Last year Alexander helped TVCC qualify for its 10th straight trip to the national tournament and finish with an overall record of 30-6. She put up 6.5 points per game while also grabbing 2.5 rebounds per game. Jenkins averaged 20 points, eight steals, seven assists and six rebounds to help her squad earn runner-up honors in Texas 2017 in the UIL 3A playoffs. Ocuane paced her team in assists per game (4.7) and steals per game (2.4) while ranking fourth in scoring (11.2). Her efforts helped it win the program’s first conference title in eight years.

NOTING THE SCHEDULE
The return of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic and a 16-game Conference USA slate, match-ups against both New Mexico and NM State and non-conference contests against power league members Arkansas, East Carolina and Georgetown highlight the 2017-18 UTEP women’s basketball schedule. There are also games against three teams that played in the 2017 NCAA Tournament (NM State, Texas Southern and WKU) and four from the 2017 Postseason WNIT (Georgetown, LA Tech, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss)

THE BAKER FILE
Kevin Baker was appointed as the eighth head coach in UTEP women’s basketball history on Monday, April 24, 2017. He has a unique background which has seen him rise through the coaching ranks from high school level, to NCAA Division III, then NCAA Division II and now his NCAA Division I position at UTEP. Throughout his ascent, though, he has consistently found a way to win. He is 346-131 overall in his 16th year as a head coach, including 124-30 in his sixth season as a college head coach. He has set school records for wins at every stop of his career, and has taken every school to the playoffs with a total of five district championships. He is an eight-time Coach of the Year. In his stops most recently prior to UTEP, Baker’s teams captured back-to-back conference championships at UT-Tyler and Angelo State. Baker has led both a Division II (Angelo State) and Division III (UT-Tyler) school to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

HISTORY OF FIRST-YEAR COACHES AT UTEP
In terms of success rate in the first season on the sidelines, Carol Ammerman (11-5, 1974-75) and Janet Wood (11-16, 1979-80) share the platform for most victories by a Miner head coach in their initial campaign. Ammerman’s effort came in the first year of the program, and is also the lone winning record by a first-year Miner head coach in school history. Overall the prior seven head coaches at UTEP are a combined 54-120 (8-17 average record). Needless to say, Kevin Baker is hoping to buck that trend in 2017-18.

EXPERIENCED STAFF
While head coach Kevin Baker and his three assistants (Nicole Dunson, Michael Madrid and Lori Morris) are in their first year at UTEP, they brought plenty of coaching experience to the Sun City. The quartet entered the 2017-18 season with a combined 93 years of coaching experience (Morris-37 years, Baker-23 years, Madrid-22 years and Dunson-11 years).

BASIC FACTS ON THE PROGRAM
UTEP is 549-648 in its 44th season as a women’s basketball program, including 2-0 in 2017-18. 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, winning the title in 2012 and falling in 2008. There have been six 20+ win seasons (all since 2006-07), including four of the past six years. 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 eight 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, including garnering three points in 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 in 2008. 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 (founded in 1914) recently enjoyed its centennial celebration. Notable alumni include former ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson, well-respected NFL referee Ed Hochuli, former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas engineer & Dennis Poon, who designed Taipei 101 & some of the tallest buildings in the world.

THIRD-BEST IN TEXAS SINCE 2006-07
The Miners have the third-highest winning percentage among all DI programs in Texas since ‘06-07. Baylor (352-52, 87.1%), and Texas A&M (285-99, 74.2%) lead the way followed by UTEP (231-120, 65.8%). Texas (237-133, 64.1%-4th), Lamar (212-136, 60.9%-5th), Stephen F. Austin (204-140, 59.3%-6th), TCU (202-151, 57.2%-7th), SMU (187-159, 54.0%-8th), Prairie View A&M (190-163, 53.8%-9th) and Texas Tech (180-174, 50.8%-10th) round out the top 10.

SPECIAL RUN
The Miners are 131-66 since the start of the 2011-12 season, with 79 double-digit victories in that time frame. UTEP has played postseason basketball in three of the past six seasons, 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). It is has enjoyed 14 separate winning streaks of at least three games during that time frame.

HOME SWEET HOME
UTEP has an all-time home record of 353-214, including standing 2-0 this year. The Miners have amassed a record of 155-40 at home since 2006-07, including 88-23 since 2011-12. Aiding that 88-23 record over the past six years was a school-record 19-1 home mark in 2015-16. The match-up against Arkansas is the third of 16 regular-season tilts at the Don Haskins Center in 2017-18. UTEP has been particularly strong in non-conference play, sporting a record of 77-11 at home in the situation since 2006-07.

ALL ABOUT THE FANS
The Miners received tremendous support to help propel them to a pair of deep runs in the WNIT (2014 runner-up honors, 2016 quarterfinals) in the past four years. UTEP averaged 7,773 fans per game during the 10 WNIT contests (8-2 record) in El Paso. Aiding those numbers were back-to-back sellouts , the first in program history, in the semifinals and finals of the 2014 WNIT. The Miners have ranked in the top-50 nationally for attendance in three of the past six years.

UTEP placed 28th in 2013-14 (3,793 avg.), 42nd in 2012-13 (2,708 avg.) and 46th in 2011-12 (2,639 avg.). The Miners are 28-10 when playing in front of 4,000+ fans since 2001-02. They are 25-3 in the situation at the Don Haskins Center and 3-7 when doing so on the road.

TRAVEL TIME
UTEP is 139-355 all time on the road, including a record of 1-9 during the 2016-17 season. When playing at a neutral site the Miners stand 57-78, including five losses to power-five programs last season. Since the start of the 2006-07 season UTEP is 57-62 on the road, including 33-31 since 2011-12.

CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS
Redshirt-senior Tamara Seda ranks sixth at UTEP in blocked shots (70), tied 10th in double-doubles (11) and tied 25th in rebounds (433).

2016-17 IN REVIEW
UTEP went through a rebuilding year in 2016-17, finishing with a record of 8-23, including 5-13 in Conference USA play, before bowing out in the first round of the 2017 C-USA Championships. The youth-laden Miners lost all five starters from the 2015-16 season and returned only four letter winners from that squad, giving them a new look for the year. UTEP played its most challenging non-conference schedule in program history with a single-season school-record five games against teams from power five conferences. It went 0-5 in those contests while finishing 3-4 vs. non power league programs in non-conference play. Overall UTEP was saddled with a 2-9 start to the year before going 3-3 over the next six games. The Miners then lost a season-long six straight and eight of the next nine before posting back-to-back victories. UTEP dropped its final two games of the regular season and was upended by sixth-seeded Old Dominion in the first round of the C-USA Championships, 80-70.

CLIFF NOTES ON THE 2017-18 SEASON
UTEP RALLIES PAST CSU BAKERSFIELD IN OPENER, 67-56
at UTEP 67, CSU Bakersfield 56 (11/11/17)
UTEP used a huge fourth quarter to rally past CSU Bakersfield, 67-56, in the 2017-18 season opener for both squads at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 11. The Roadrunners led by eight (45-37) through three quarters of action but the Miners opened up the final frame on an 13-1 run to help fuel a dominant 30-11 advantage over the last 10 minutes of action. Senior Tamara Seda (20 points), junior Jordan Alexander (15 points) and sophomore Faith Cook (14 points) each established career highs to lead the way for the Miners, who were victorious in head coach Kevin Baker’s Division I coaching debut. Junior Najala Howell (10 points) also reached double digits in scoring for UTEP, which nailed 51.2 percent (21-41) from the floor and 42.9 percent (6-14) from beyond-the-arc. Alexander, who played her freshman year at DI Louisiana before transferring to Trinity Valley, grabbed a personal-best 10 boards for her first career double-double while Seda added eight caroms. UTEP won the rebounding battle, 36-30, which was aided by a whopping 16-2 advantage in the fourth quarter. The Miners held CSUB to 32.8 percent (20-61) from the floor.

START IT OFF STRONG
UTEP improved to 24-20 all time in season openers, including 21-7 when doing so in El Paso. Overall in home openers, the Miners now stand 28-14 (missing outcomes in some years).

RECAPPING THE EXHIBITION SEASON
For the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Miners played a pair of exhibition games to prepare for the regular season. UTEP split the contests, drilling NCAA Division III member Sul Ross State, 99-40, on Oct. 29, while falling to NCAA Division II member St. Mary’s (Texas), 68-62, on Nov. 4. Katarina Zec (17.5 points per game) was the top point producer for the Miners but four others (Tamara Seda-16.5 ppg, Najala Howell-15.0 ppg, Jordan Alexander-11.0 ppg and Jakeira Ford-11.0 ppg) also averaged double figures in scoring. As a team UTEP shot 45.5 percent (56-123) from the floor while holding its foes to 30.9 percent (38-123). The Miners excelled at the free-throw line (35-42, 83.3 percent) and also dominated the rebounding department (51.0 rebounds per game to 27.5 opponent rebounds per game).

A recap of each of the contests is below.

St. Mary’s (Texas) 68, at UTEP 62 (11/4/17)
Five different Miners reached double figures in scoring but visiting NCAA Division II St. Mary’s (Texas) used a barrage of three pointers to down UTEP, 68-62, in an exhibition contest at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 4. The Miners were clicking on all cylinders early with a 22-point first quarter, which helped propel them to a 35-27 advantage at the half. The visiting Rattlers came out firing after the break, eventually pulling ahead by 12 (61-49) with 7:36 to play in the game. UTEP scored the game’s next 10 points to help fuel a 13-1 run to even the tilt at 62 with 2:25 remaining. But St. Mary’s, which finished 21-7 a year ago, received back-to-back triples from Sierra Dixon to decide the game. The long-distance hits were part of 14 on the day for St. Mary’s, including five alone in the final frame. Jordan Alexander (14 points) led a quintet of Miners in double figures offensively, with Katarina Zec (12 points), Najala Howell (12 points), Tamara Seda (10 points) and Jakeira Ford (10 points) joining her. Seda pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for a double-double, which also helped UTEP win the boards, 46-33. UTEP shot it reasonably well at 40.7 percent (24-59), but it struggled from beyond-the-arc at 26.7 percent (4-15). While the Miners held St. Mary’s to 35.4 percent shooting (23-65), they allowed the Rattlers to drill 14-of-31 (45.2 percent) from downtown.

at UTEP 99, Sul Ross State 40 (10/29/17)
UTEP raced out to a 52-17 halftime lead and never looked back on the way to a 99-40 exhibition win against Division III Sul Ross State at the Don Haskins Center on Oct. 29. Senior Tamara Seda dominated with a monstrous double-double (23 points, 15 rebounds) while sophomore Katarina Zec (23 points, nine boards) and junior Najala Howell (18 points, seven rebounds) also had big days. Seda also added four blocks and four steals. The Miners shot 50.0 percent (32-64) from the floor, including 45.5 percent (10-22) from distance, while also nailing 86.2 percent (25-29) at the charity stripe. It was a different story for the visiting Lady Lobos, who were harassed into 22 turnovers and held to 25.9 percent (15-58) from the floor. UTEP also took care of business on the boards, outrebounding Sul Ross State, 56-22. Seda led the way with a game-high 15 boards while Jordan Alexander pulled down 11 caroms. Alexander added eight points in her Miner debut. An area of concern for UTEP was turnovers with 19, but 14 of those came in the first half.

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