Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez

Miners prep for Florida Atlantic in C-USA Tourney opener Wednesday

The seventh-seeded UTEP women’s basketball team (15-14) will lock up with 10th-seeded Florida Atlantic (13-16) at 12:30 p.m. MT/1:30 p.m. CT in the first round of the 2020 Air Force Reserve Conference USA Women’s Basketball Championships presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Performance Center at The Star.

“It has been two months since we played FAU, and they have improved much. They will be a tough match-up for us because they are playing some really good basketball this time of year. They play a very similar style as us, and they are just as aggressive as we are as of late. We are looking forward to the tournament, and we believe we are built for a great postseason run,” head coach Kevin Baker shared.

The Miners blasted Florida Atlantic, 96-65, in the only meeting between the programs this year in El Paso back on January 4, 2020. It will be the first meeting between the programs in the league championships.

UTEP dropped its final two contests of the regular season, including a 68-58 setback last time out at North Texas on March 7. FAU split its final week of action, including besting Marshall, 68-50, on March 7. Wednesday’s contest will be the first neutral-site game on the year for both teams. The victor advances to face second-seed ODU in the quarterfinals.

The Miners lead the league in turnovers forced per game (19.9), and FAU is last in C-USA for turnovers committed per game (19.7). the Miners pace the conference for free throws attempted (608) and the Owls are last in the league for personal fouls per game (21.2).

C-USA All-Freshman team member Katia Gallegos (146 assists) has set the UTEP freshman record for a season. She needs five helpers to move into fourth on the program’s single-season list regardless of class and six to take over third place.Ariona Gill has hit double figures in scoring in 10 of the past 11 games.

Katarina Zec (All C-USA second-team) and Katia Gallegos (C-USA All-Freshman team) both picked up honors from Conference USA on March 9. Zec also was named to the league’s five-member All-Academic team, sporting a 3.72 GPA in biochemistry.

Gallegos became the first Miner to be named to an All-Freshman squad in five years after a sensational first year with the Orange and Blue. 

Wednesday’s game will be available on ESPN+. It will also be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller on the call.