UTEP women’s basketball enters the Conference USA Championships as the No. 4 seed and will begin tournament action on Thursday vs. No. 5 LA Tech.
Opening tip is slated for 10:30 a.m. MT/11:30 a.m. CT inside the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.
The Miners (19-10, 12-8 C-USA) swept the regular season series against the Lady Techsters (19-11, 12-8 C-USA), who were picked second in the preseason poll by head coaches from around the league.
Quarterfinal and semifinal action in the C-USA Championships will air on ESPN+ with Chris Mycoskie and Kyle Youmans on the call. Fans can listen in live as well on 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App with Jon Teicher and Steve Yellen describing the action courtside inside the Ford Center at The Star.
SCOUTING LA TECH
C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Keiunna Walker leads the way for one of the hottest teams in the conference, as the Lady Techsters have won seven of their last eight games, including a sweep of the Florida schools on the road last week to cap the regular season. Walker is second in the conference with 17.9 points per game to pair with 4.5 rebounds on average and a team-high 34 steals. She does an outstanding job of getting to the rim, ranking ninth nationally with 206 free throw attempts this season. The rapid ascent for LA Tech correlates directly with the return of Anna Larr Roberson, with the team going 7-1 since she rejoined the active lineup on Feb. 9 vs. FIU. For the season, Roberson averages 12.7 points and 6.6 boards per contest. LA Tech is efficient from the floor, ranking second in C-USA with a 44.3 field goal percentage and first with a 33.7 percent clip on 3-point attempts.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. LA TECH
UTEP swept the regular season series with the Lady Techsters, winning 62-54 to open conference play in Ruston and protecting the home court with a 72-66 triumph in El Paso. Overall, LA Tech leads the head-to-head series 16-10. This is the third meeting in the conference tournament. Most recently, UTEP won 81-72 in the 2014 quarterfinals. LA Tech came out on top 74-47 in the semifinals of the 2004 WAC Tournament.
UTEP has tied a program record by playing in 21 games decided by single digits this season. Overall, the Miners are 13-8 in such contests. In conference action, 16 of the 20 contests were decided by nine points or less. In those C-USA affairs, UTEP is 9-7, with six of those losses coming by a combined 16 points.
1,000 POINTS IN REACH FOR JACKSON
Jazion Jackson has now scored 981 collegiate points between her time with the Miners and North Texas, including a career-high 353 this season while leading UTEP with 12.2 points per game.
UTEP has had 16 games this year in which at least four different scorers reached double figures, highlighted by a stretch from Feb. 8-17 in which five or more Miners reached double digits in three straight games. There is no prior record of this happening in program history (records incomplete prior to the 1983-84 season).
SEARCHING FOR 20 WINS
UTEP last picked up 20 wins during the 2015-16 season, with that team finishing 29-5 overall on the way to winning the regular season conference championship, eventually advancing to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. Six teams have won 20 or more games in program history.
DOMINANT INSIDE TANDEM
The starting combination of Elina Arike and Adhel Tac has helped to differentiate the Miners from their competition this season. Arike has been a staple of consistency as of late, scoring in double figures in nine of the last 11 games, including eight straight from Jan. 28-Feb. 23. She is third on the roster with 5.5 rebounds per game. Tac has had her best college season to date this year, posting 11 double-figure scoring games, five contests with 10 or more rebounds and two double-doubles. She has taken full advantage of her opportunities, increasing her averages from 1.4 points and 1.3 rebounds in seven minutes per game last season to 8.0 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game this time around. Tac worked extensively with Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Chisan Jones this offseason in preparation for her breakout campaign.
DEFENSE WITH JAZION
Jazion Jackson is third in C-USA with 62 steals, averaging 2.1 per game.
BOYD ON THE BOARDS
Guard N’Yah Boyd grabbed a career-high nine rebounds last time out vs. Middle Tennessee. She approached a triple-double type of afternoon in that one with seven points and seven assists to pair with the nine boards.
Jazion Jackson and Adhel Tac each averaged 6.3 rebounds per game in C-USA action this season to tie for fourth in the league.
DOUBLE-DIGIT CONFERENCE WINS
With 12 conference wins this season, UTEP has now won 10 or more conference games 10 times in program history. This is the second time that the team has reached double-digit wins in league play in the last three seasons.
MOVING THE BALL AROUND
UTEP averages 13.8 assists per game to rank second in the conference in that category. Additionally, the Miners are second in C-USA in assist to turnover ratio, trailing only Middle Tennessee.
MINERS IN OVERTIME
For the second straight year, UTEP has played plenty of extra basketball this season, including the 72-68 loss at No. 24 Middle Tennessee last Saturday. Last season, the Miners played a program-record five overtime games. This season, UTEP has taken part in three, tying the 2020-21 and 2017-18 teams for second in the record book.
In a display of one of the strengths of the team, UTEP has compiled 12 games of 20 or more turnovers forced, led by the season opener against New Orleans in which the Miners forced 33 turnovers.
STARTING EVERY GAME
Jazion Jackson and Avery Crouse are the lone two Miners who have started all 29 games this season. The duo has been a staple of durability throughout the season. Crouse has now started 110 career games with UTEP, a total which is tied with Katarina Zec (2016-20) for the third most in a career in program history.
LIMITING TURNOVERS AT HISTORIC RATE
With just 13.9 turnovers per game this season, the Miners are keeping possession of the basketball at one of the best clips in program history. The only UTEP team to average less turnovers per contest was the 2008-09 team at an average of 13.0 per game.
CROUSE CAREER CAPSULE
Four-year starter Avery Crouse has scored 926 points with 419 rebounds, 205 assists and 118 steals in 111 games.
NO REBOUNDS FOR YOU
UTEP allowed opponents to only grab 33.3 rebounds per game in C-USA play, the lowest mark in the conference.
LIVING AT THE LINE
The Miners are averaging a league-leading 21.0 free throw attempts per game, ranking 29th nationally.
BIG SHOT AVERY
In her collegiate career, Avery Crouse has made 95 triples, ranking her 12th in UTEP program history. This year, she has connected on 32 from downtown, surpassing her previous season best of 23.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BENCH
Erin Wilson and Sabine Lipe have regularly been featured as the first two options off the bench for the Miners, with Wilson recently contributing seven straight games double-figure scoring games during a stretch in which she stepped into a starting spot for six of those contests. On the season, Wilson averages 6.2 points per game while hitting 45.6 percent of her shots from the floor from her guard position. Lipe is in her second stint with UTEP and has been a welcome addition, seeing action in all 29 games and playing 15.1 minutes on average. Her 34.9 percent effort this year on 3-pointers is third on the roster, with her knack for drawing charges another key element to her game.
With a win, UTEP would play a semifinal on Friday at 3:30 p.m. MT/4:30 p.m. CT. That game would be vs. either No. 1 Middle Tennessee, No. 8 FIU or No. 9 Charlotte. The Lady Raiders have a bye into the quarterfinals and await the winner of the Panthers vs. 49ers clash on Wednesday.