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Tuesday , January 22 2019
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UTEP Ph.D. Student Earns Stanford University Honor, Research Published in International Journals

UTEP doctoral student Francisco Morales-Acuña, M.D., was selected to participate in Stanford University’s PRISM (Postdoctoral Recruitment Initiative in the Science and Medicine) program in February 2019.

Stanford PRISM enables late-stage graduate students from diverse backgrounds who are planning their postdoctoral training the opportunity to see first-hand if a postdoctoral position at Stanford University would be a good match for them.

Morales-Acuña, a Ph.D. candidate in UTEP’s Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (IHS) program, will leave on an expenses-paid trip to Stanford University February 20-23. He will tour the campus, meet with current Stanford postdocs, discuss shared research interests with faculty, and learn about postdoctoral training at the university.

A native of Santiago, Chile, Morales-Acuña earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Andrés Bello National University in Chile in 2009. He started the IHS program in 2017 and is a research assistant in UTEP’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. He manages the Clinical Applied Physiology (CAPh) Lab headed by DPT Director Alvaro Gurovich, Ph.D.

Morales-Acuña’s research interests include sports medicine, cardiology and physiology.

His research on the “Comparison between Cuff-Based and Radial Tonometry Exercise-Induced Central Blood Pressure,” will be published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in February. Rather than using radial tonometry to monitor a patient’s central blood pressure (BP), Morales-Acuña’s study found that BP could be measured more precisely with an automatic cuff-based blood pressure device during low-intensity exercise.

Morales-Acuña also is the second author on a paper titled, “Bicuspid Aortic Valve in Elite Athletes” in February’s issue of the European Heart Journal-Cardiovascular Imaging.

Led by Araceli Boraita, M.D., Ph.D., from the Spanish Agency for Health Protection in Sport (AEPSAD) in Madrid, Spain, the study also involved researchers from AEPSAD, and the Hospital Universitario Infanta Cristina de Badajoz and the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Spain.

The purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence and characteristics of bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), a congenital heart disease, among elite athletes and to analyze the effect of long-term exercise training on their aortas.

Researchers found that high-intensity exercise training and competition did not affect the aorta of elite athletes with BAV in comparison to sedentary patients with BAV.

According to Morales-Acuña, this is the first study to determine that elite athletes with BAV may engage in high dynamic cardiovascular exercise without adverse consequences. The study recommends that athletes with BAV maintain a yearly echocardiographic follow-up.

For information about UTEP’s IHS program, click here.

Miner Hockey Turns Games into ‘Science on Ice’ for Students

Last season, the UTEP Miner hockey squad was dealt a card they didn’t expect: a change of game times. With only one sheet of ice in El Paso and an increasing demand for hockey, things needed to be shuffled.

While the Ice Miners were used to playing on Friday and Saturday evening at 7:00pm, the Miners would now be playing at 11:00 a.m. and sometimes on days other than Friday and Saturday.

It was at this moment UTEP took the opportunity to make an odd start time and turn it into a way to connect with the community in a different way, through learning.

Take any sport and you can see how much science is put to use during a single game, hockey requires a lot of science. From the creation of the ice players skate on to the curve of a hockey stick, the idea to mix hockey with a science lesson became a no-brainer, thus the Science on Ice game series was created.

Based on program previously used at the rink during field trips, the Miners took the idea and built it into the program now shown during games.

“In efforts to promote hockey to the El Paso community, we chose an approach that by inviting students to a game introduces them to the science behind the sport of hockey and preparation for the sport as well as the ice rink,” UTEP Hockey head coach Tom Herman shared.

Throughout the game, students are taken on a journey through different aspects of science and how it is applied to hockey and then it’s seen in action during the game.

As student themselves, the Miners understand the importance of school, as it is required for each hockey player to maintain a 2.5 GPA while playing for the club.

Aside from hockey, the club spends time off the ice in classrooms talking to students about the opportunities education has provided them. In effort to continue building on those relationships, UTEP invited schools into their classroom, the ice rink.

“The goal is simple, make it enjoyable for everyone. Introduce them to hockey, but at the same time teach them so many different things about science,” Coach Herman added.  “Education and especially science isn’t always in the classroom. It’s everywhere. And for the students to be able to enjoy a hockey game, cheer on their UTEP Miners and also learn at the same time, it just makes sense.”

Last season over 1000 students joined the Miners for Science on Ice, this season they are hoping to continue to grow that number.

Anyone on the Miner bench will say, the atmosphere of a Science on Ice game is different. Students yell for the Miners from puck drop to the final buzzer and are quick to let the opposing team know who’s house they’re in.

“They are full of energy and excitement,” said Herman. “They make it an unique experience.”

For $7, students are provided a healthy meal, admission and the opportunity to meet the players after the game. There is only one Science on Ice game left this season and the Miners hope to pack the stands once more to enjoy one last game as they begin to wrap up the season.

The final Science on Ice game is February 2nd against the Texas State Bobcats at 11:00am. For more information on attending our Science on Ice game please visit the UTEP Hockey website.

Lathon’s Last-Second Half-Court Shot Comes Up Short, MT edges UTEP, 75-72

MURFREESBORO, Tn. – Jordan Lathon heaved up a half-court shot with seconds remaining, looking to become a hero for a second time this season, but missed the effort to tie the game as the ball hit the rim and Middle Tennessee pulled out a 75-72 victory over UTEP on Saturday night at the Murphy Center.

“I said to our guys what an unbelievable effort tonight, but I put a lot of this on myself. I’m a man in terms of conducting myself down the stretch and I really hurt the team tonight,” Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But I’m not going to take away who I am. I’m a fighter and I’m going to fight for my guys. I’m not going to change who I am, but I could probably be better in terms of how I communicate with the officials. I’m going to be who I am and I’m a competitor and when my guys are fighting and doing what I feel like what they’re doing at a very high level, then I’m going to question those questionable calls down the stretch.”

Four Miners fouled out, while Terry was ejected after drawing his second technical foul late in the second half. However, the Miners kept battling down the stretch after find themselves down eight points with just over four minutes left in the ball game.

UTEP (6-11, 1-5 Conference USA), for a second straight game, got off to a fast start, going up as many as 13 in the first half. But Middle Tennessee (5-14, 2-4 C-USA) connected on three pointers and free throws down stretch to win its second consecutive league contest.

Nigel Hawkins led the Miners with 16 points that included a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the charity stripe. Lathon recorded his first career double-double after scoring 12 points and registering 10 boards, while also leading the Miners with four assists.

UTEP outrebounded Middle Tennessee, 33-32, but the Blue Raiders tallied 13 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points. The Miners turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 27 points off turnovers, and only registered nine assists.

“Some of those fouls started adding up, especially when they’re nickel-and-dime fouls. But that’s neither here or there. At the end of the day we didn’t do a good job at taking care of the basketball,” Terry said. “We had 11 turnovers at the half and 20 for the game. That really was the count of the game within the game. But we shot free throws extremely well, only missing three of those. We have to keep plugging and we’re not going to stop working. We’re going to work on getting better and win some games.”

The Miners were 15-for-18 from the line and are shooting over 70 percent the last 10 games from the charity stripe.

After UTEP raced out to a 29-16 lead at the 5:03 mark, MT finished the first half on an 11-0 run and headed to the locker room down 29-27.

UTEP received balanced scoring during the first half as eight Miners connected on field goals.

After the Blue Raiders tied the game 29-29, UTEP answered with a 9-0 run to go up 38-29 highlighted by Hawkins’s seven points during the span.

But the relentless Blue Raiders, who had come off a big win over then-first place UTSA Thursday night, used another big run, outscoring UTEP 12-0 and going up three points (41-38) at the 13:34 mark in the second period.

Lathon made a jumper to get the Miners within a pair of points (55-53). Following his made jumper Jayce Johnson missed a layup and Hawkins followed with a drive to the hoop before being called for an offensive foul in the paint. At that point, Terry was ejected at the 6:49 mark. Antonio Green made both free throws from the technical foul. Reggie Scurry followed with another pair of made free throws after called foul on UTEP, putting the Blue Raiders up, 59-53.

Evan Gilyard, who scored 14 points, hit a three-point basket to get the Miners within three points (59-56) with 5:41 left in the contest.

But MT scored the next five points to go up 64-56 at the 4:52 mark.

The fighting Miners wouldn’t go down without a fight. Ountae Campbell connected on a pair of free throws, while Lathon followed with two of his own and Efe Odigie hit a midrange shot as the trio got their squad within two points (64-62) at the 3:04 mark.

Excitement ensued as Antonio Green stopped that run with a three pointer, but Lathon, who’s been clutch down the stretch recently, nailed a trey of his own with just over a minute remaining in the ball game, making the count 67-65.

The Miners would get within two points on three occasions down the stretch. Kobe Magee banked a three pointer off the glass (72-70) with 12 seconds remaining and Campbell made a jumper (74-72) with six seconds remaining.

But Karl Gamble made one of two free-throw attempts to put the Blue Raiders up three points before Lathon’s last-second attempt.

Campbell and Magee each finished with seven points, while Campbell pulled down six rebounds. Odigie had six points and six boards, and Kaosi Ezeagu scored six points in 17 minutes of action. Paul Thomas, who came off the bench for the first time this season, chipped in with four points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of work.

Thomas, Hawkins, Ezeagu and Odigie all fouled out of the contest.

MT was led by Green’s 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting, but five of those field goals were three-point buckets. Scurry led the way with nine rebounds and scored 19 points. Scurry hurt the Miners with eight offensive boards.

UTEP shot 51.0 percent and outscored MT’s bench, 17-9.

Up next, UTEP will return to The Haskins Center on January 24 against Old Dominion and for a January 26 contest against Charlotte. Both contests are set for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Gallery+Story: C-USA League Leader Middle Tennessee Downs UTEP 79-49

UTEP hung tough early with league-leading Middle Tennessee before the visitors found another level in an eventual 79-49 defeat Saturday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center.

“I want to give a shout out to our unbelievable fans,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We came out of the tunnel in the second half. They lifted our players and were encouraging. This is why UTEP is a special place. It’s tough for us, for our players but we can find things in the second half that we can build on.”

The Miners (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) trailed by just four (14-10) with 4:31 to play in the first quarter only to have the Blue Raiders (15-4, 6-0 C-USA) 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.

MT set the tone early by peeling off seven straight points to start the ballgame. UTEP countered by tallying seven of the next points in the contest, cutting the margin to two (9-7) with 6:55 left in the first quarter. After a mini 5-0 run from the Blue Raiders, the Orange and Blue used a free throw from Puc and a jumper by Alexander to get within four (14-10) with 4:31 remaining in the opening stanza. It took a turn from that point on, with MT outscoring UTEP, 16-3, to close out the period and put the Miners down by 17 (30-13) after 10 minutes of action.

UTEP moved the ball effectively on offense in the second quarter to create some good looks, but just couldn’t get them to fall. It was a different story for MT, which continued to click on all cylinders on the way to leading by 33 (50-17) heading into halftime. The visitors shot a ridiculous 66.7 percent (20-30) over the first 20 minutes.

The Blue Raiders opened up the third quarter on a 7-0 push, making it a 40-point tilt (57-17) with 7:04 to play in the third quarter. Rochelle drilled a jumper to end the surge, and it was back-and-forth the rest of the period, with MT only managing to extend its halftime cushion by two as the contest swung into the final frame.

The home side enjoyed its finest moments of the contest in the fourth quarter. The Miners nailed 55.6 percent (5-9) from the floor in the frame, including 4-4 on treys, while also sinking 10 free throws on the way to piling up 24 points in the final 10 minutes of action against the top scoring defense in C-USA. Puc led the charge, tallying 12 of her team-high 17 points in the period. She was 3-3 from distance in the final quarter (3-6 for the game), an amazing feat considering she entered the contest having gone 2-16 on triples this season.

UTEP heads back on the road with a cross-country trip for a pair of match-ups in the Eastern Time Zone. Up first is a 9 a.m. MT/11 a.m. ET game at Old Dominion on Thursday, with the special tipoff time due to it an “Education Day” promotion. The Miners will then conclude a stretch of playing five of their first seven league contests on the road with a tilt at Charlotte at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET on January 26. Both contests will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Brandon Cohn on the call.

UTEP Women’s Basketball On Facebook  |  Miners On Twitter  |  Miners On Instagram  |  Coach Baker On Twitter

Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post

Flyin’ Miners Conclude Texas A&M Triangular Meet

College Station, Texas – The UTEP track and field team closed out its second meet of the season by going head-to-head against the Aggies and TCU at the Texas A&M Triangular Meet on Saturday.

“The coaching staff is not impressed with today’s results,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “We had a few respectable performances, but as a team we didn’t move forward from last week. We have a lot to accomplish in our next meet at Albuquerque.”

Transfer Kimisha Chambers won her first meet as a Miner, clocking in a time of 8.53 in the women’s 60m hurdles. Senior Rebecca Oshinbanjo also raced in the 60m hurdles and posted a seventh-place finish.

Once again the women’s distance team shined, posting a one-two punch. Senior Lilian Koech won the 800m with a time of 2:08.02. Teammate Carolyne Chepkosgei finished closely behind, clocking in a time of 2:08.30.

On the field, Chantoba Bright represented UTEP in the women’s long jump. The freshman posted a leap of 5.63m in her first attempt, finishing second overall.

Freshmen Samantha Cordier and Kayla Larry competed in the weight throw for the Orange and Blue and recorded a second and third-place finish, respectively.

In the men’s 3,000m the Miners dominated the competition by claiming first and second place. Senior Antony Kosgei won the event with a time of 8:38.03, while freshman Rodgers Korir crossed the finish line with a time of 8:38.99.

Sophomore Boaz Ronoh competed in the men’s mile for the first time this season. In a field that included 15 runners, Ronoh finished fourth overall with a time of 4:15.78.

Once again registering a stellar performance in his second meet of his collegiate career was Iason Machairas. The freshman threw a winning mark of 16.64m (54-7.25) in his last attempt of the day in the shot put.

Sophomore Karol Koncos also had a good meet, taking second in the weight throw. In his first attempt the Vidina, Slovakia, native registered a mark of 18.40m (6-4.50).

Improving from last week’s showing, Shakeem Smith took second in the 60m hurdles with a season-best time of 8.08.

In the highly-competitive men’s 400m, junior Sean Bailey had a late push in the third heat of the event to finish fourth overall with a time of 47.61.

In the sprints, senior Kyle Farrell registered a second-place finish in the 200m by posting a time of 21.89. Teammates Anthony Brinson and Carvellion Horn took sixth and seventh place in the 200m, respectively.

The Miners will go on the road again next week to compete at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic on Friday and Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.

Flyin’ Miners Set for Texas A&M Triangular Meet

The UTEP track and field team will travel to College Station to compete in the Texas A&M Triangular Meet on Saturday.

On the women’s side, 17 Miners will represent the Orange and Blue. Leading the squad will be transfer Kimisha Chambers in the women’s 60m hurdles at 1 p.m. MT. The junior has already left her mark at UTEP, posting the eighth-fastest time (8.49) in the 60m hurdles in program history.

The women’s 800m will be fully loaded with Carolyne Chepkosgei, Lilian Koech and Destiny White taking the track for the Miners at 1:40 p.m. Chepkosgei won the women’s 1,000m by clocking in a time of 2:53.74 at the Texas Tech Corky Classic on Jan. 12. Her personal-best time (2:09.50) was posted last season at the Conference USA Championships, where she took silver.

Koech will be racing in the 800m for the first time this season. She won the mile run with a time of 4:59.88 in the first meet of the season on Jan. 12. White, who took eighth in the 1,000m at the Texas Tech Corky Classic on Jan. 12, will also compete in the 800m for the first time this season.

Three Miners will also run in the 400m set for 1:05 p.m. Junior Madison Gibson will lead the group. She ran a personal-best time of 56.52 at the 2018 New Mexico Classic. Also participating the 400m will be Karoline Daland and Dreshanae Rolle, who finished fourth and fifth in the 600m at the Texas Tech Corky Classic, respectively.

On the field, Chantoba Bright will be the lone Miner in the long jump (12:15 p.m.). The freshman finished fourth at the Texas Tech Corky Classic with a mark of 5.90m, which is currently the top mark in C-USA by a freshman.

On the men’s side, 19 student-athletes will represent UTEP.

The men’s field events will feature freshman Iason Machairas in the shot put at approximately 1:30 p.m. The thrower took third in the season opener on Jan. 12 with a mark of 17.11m, which currently ranks second in C-USA.

Sophomore Karol Koncos will once again compete in the weight throw (1:30 p.m.) for the Miner. On Jan. 12, he won the event with a toss of 18.54m. Joining him will be teammate Benjamin Coronado, who will compete in the weight throw and shot put.

In the sprints side, the men’s 400m (1:15 p.m.) will consist of Sean Bailey, Carvellion Horn and Luis Baca. At the Texas Tech Corky Classic, Bailey posted a second-place finish in the 600m by clocking in at 1:10.07.

Horn took the track in the 400m at the Texas Tech Corky Classic and recorded a second-place finish.

The men’s mile run (12:45 p.m.) will feature sophomores Boaz Ronoh and Cornelius Kapel. Kapel crossed the finish line second with a time of 4:16.68 in the mile run on Jan. 12. Ronoh finished first in the 3,000m at the Texas Tech Corky Classic and will compete in the mile for the first time this season.

For live results, click here.

Gallery+Story: UTEP Toppled By Preseason League Favorite UAB 74-48

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 Thursday evening.

“I’m proud of our team for coming out and playing so well (in the first quarter),” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We were toe-to-toe with them (14-13), and I couldn’t have been prouder. We could not throw it in there in the second quarter. We played them to one point in the third and six points in the fourth. Our battled and yet again a sophomore led us in scoring. I saw so many positives out there that we can build on. My hat is off to Randy (Norton) and UAB. They’re every good as you need to be to to win the conference.”

The Miners (4-13, 1-3 C-USA) got off to a much-needed good start, leading by seven (11-4) with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter. The Blazers (16-2, 4-1 C-USA) 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 bucked its recent trend of sluggish starts by jumping out to an 8-2 advantage of the first five minutes of the contest, forcing visiting UAB to call timeout. It was a balanced approach in the stretch for UTEP, with four different Miners scoring. The Blazers got a jumper from Kuzmanic to go out of their timeout, but Hoy countered immediately with a triple off a feed from Rochelle.

The bucket afforded the Orange and Blue a seven-point cushion (11-4) with 3:49 left in the quarter. UAB regrouped, closing the frame on a 10-2 push to grab a one-point edge (14-13) through 10 minutes of action.

Puc split a pair of free throws early on in the second frame, resulting in the first time of the tilt. Much to the chagrin of the Miner faithful, the visitors peeled off the next eight points. Puc made a lay-up to halt the sequence, only to have UAB rip off 11 consecutive points to put the Miners down by 17 (33-16) with 3:03 remaining in the frame.

It was back-and-forth the final three minutes, with UTEP forced to head into the locker room down by 19 (38-19).

The Orange and Blue turned in an extremely competitive second half, with UAB only holding a +7 margin (36-29) over the final 20 minutes of action. Aiding that was holding the Blazers to 33.3 percent (5-15) shooting in the third quarter, including 16.7 percent (1-6) on 3-point tries in that frame.

UTEP wraps up its mini two-game homestand by playing host to Middle Tennessee at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234. Additionally, all popcorn will be $1 in honor of “National Popcorn Day.”

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Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post

UAB Uses Strong Second Half to Get Past Miners 76-63

BIRMINGHAM, Al. – Evan Gilyard scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half, giving UTEP a halftime lead. But UAB outscored the Miners, 47-31, in the second half and claimed a 76-63 victory on Thursday night in Bartow Arena.

“We didn’t start the second half the right way and we really didn’t close the first right and gave up a bad play to end the half,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Then we weren’t ready in the first four minutes of the second half for whatever reason at the level of intensity you have to have on the road. We let a couple 50-50 balls get away from us and we gave them some easy baskets.”

The Miners (6-10, 1-4 Conference USA) got off to a blazing start, going up 13-2 in the first four minutes of the contest. However, the Blazers (11-7, 3-2 C-USA) answered with a 14-0 run to take a 16-13 lead at the 10:09 mark.

Efe Odigie ended the run with a two-point bucket in the paint, while the Miners finished the first half on a 19-13 run to take a 32-29 halftime lead. At one point, the Miners had a 32-27 lead and possession of the ball with second remaining in the first half, but a turnover led to a UAB bucket right before the buzzer.

The Blazers outscored the Miners 10-4 and took a three-point lead at the 13:32 mark after an explosive dunk by Tavin Lovan. Makhtar Gueye followd with a jumper, giving his squad a 41-36 lead and never looked back.

Gilyard was on fire in the first half, scoring on 6-for-12 shooting, including a 4-for-6 effort from downtown.

Odigie registered his seventh career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Nigel Hawkins scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, while lead the team with four assists. Jordan Lathon tallied seven points and seven rebounds.

The Blazers took control in the second half, going up as many as 17 points. UAB outrebounded UTEP, 34-26, while the Blazers only turned the ball over 10 times.

Lewis Sullivan led UAB with 18 points, while Zack Bryant and Lovan each chipped in with 14 points.

UTEP will play at Middle Tennessee (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) Jan. 19. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MT in the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders are coming off an 89-86 win against UTSA, handing the Roadrunners their first league loss of the season in Murfreesboro.

Miners Return Home To Battle UAB Blazers

The UTEP women’s basketball team (4-12, 1-2 C-USA) will open up the home portion of its Conference USA slate by welcoming preseason favorite and defending regular-season champion UAB (15-2, 3-1 C-USA) to the Don Haskins Center for a match-up at 7 p.m.

“UAB will be a good challenge for us. They are the defending Conference USA champions and they are playing at a level high enough to repeat last year’s accomplishment. They are very well coached and shoot the ball extremely well from the perimeter.  We will need have  great game to be able to beat them, but I am confident that our team is on the verge of turning the corner.  A win over UAB would get us back on track in a hurry,” head coach Kevin Baker said.

The Miners will be looking to snap a two-game skid, having fallen most recently at Rice, 76-42, on January 12. The Blazers are coming off a 71-60 vanquishing of Southern Miss on January 12.

UTEP will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 9, as it has had seven straight (five road, two neutral) contests outside of El Paso. The Miners are 2-5 on the year in the Don Haskins Center, with the first four losses by four points or less. The Blazers are 6-0 on the road, including 2-0 within C-USA action.

UAB has won 12 straight C-USA road contests, with its last such defeat coming at Middle Tennessee (87-56), on February 26, 2017.

Thursday’s contest marks the second of three straight games against the teams voted in the top three of the C-USA preseason poll. The stretch started with a 76-42 loss at Rice (picked second) on January 12.

It continues this week at home with the match-ups against UAB (preseason favorite) and Middle Tennessee (picked third, 1 p.m. MT Saturday). Those teams are living up to the hype by sporting a combined record of 41-9 on the campaign, including 11-1 in league play.

UAB has a 10-9 edge in the series with the Miners, but UTEP has a 4-3 advantage when playing in El Paso. The two squads played a pair of games last season, with the Blazers winning both.

UAB toppled the Orange and Blue, 84-64, in El Paso on February 2, 2018, and then ended the Miners’ season with a 75-66 result in the quarterfinals of the 2018 C-USA Championships on March 8, 2018.

This is the first of two scheduled meetings on the campaign, with UTEP making the trip to Birmingham, Ala., on March 2. Additionally, 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 December 20, 1990.

The two squads did not square off again until the 2005-06 season when UTEP joined C-USA.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling 915-747-5234. It’s a two-for-one special this week, as fans who buy a single-game ticket for UTEP vs. UAB will receive a free ticket for the Miners’ match-up against Middle Tennessee 1 p.m. MT Saturday.

Additionally, the first 500 fans on Thursday will also receive a free drawstring bag.

The game will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller on the call. There will also be a live stream on (subscription based).

Immigration Research Part of UTEP Summer Program

When Jeremy Slack, Ph.D., planned his initial Immigration and Border Community – Research Experience for Undergraduates (IBCREU) program, the assistant professor of geography at The University of Texas at El Paso thought his 2018 summer interns would study efforts to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The goal of the IBCREU program is to teach social science research methods to students interested in border studies. Participants would team up with agencies that promote human rights and civil rights. The three-year, $487,000 program is funded by the National Science Foundation.

As the IBCREU prepared to launch, an unexpected development enhanced its scope. In June, the U.S. government opened its shelter for unaccompanied or separated migrant children in Tornillo, Texas, and the focus of the IBCREU quickly changed to asylum hearings, migrant family separations and research into “zero tolerance” policies made in Washington, D.C. The 10 students selected from 350 applications from around the country dealt with the court systems and visiting elected officials from the local to national levels.

“It was an atypical summer,” said Slack, the project’s principal investigator (PI). “It was great, but chaotic. (The students) were thrust into the limelight so they made it part of their research experience.”

Slack and his co-PI, Neil Harvey, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Government at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, have opened the application process for the 2019 IBCREU, which is scheduled from May 20 to July 27, 2019, at UTEP. It will include a $5,000 stipend and a research trip to the U.S.-Mexico border around Nogales, Arizona. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 15, 2019. Interested students can learn more about the program at

The UTEP professor said he wants to build on the collaborations with last year’s partners – the American Civil Liberties Union, Hope Border Institute, and the Border Network for Human Rights – as well as new partner NM CAFé, a faith-based group headquartered in Las Cruces.

Slack said his 2018 partners, who helped set the research parameters, called the reports written by last year’s students “valuable tools” that enhanced their day-to-day efforts. For example, Hope Border Institute focused on assistance at asylum hearings, the ACLU team studied President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy and developed a manual for borderwide documentation, and the Border Network for Human Rights group developed a 20-year history of the network and border organizations with similar missions.

While some participants were from UTEP and NMSU, the majority were from other institutions such as Vassar College (New York), Brown University (Rhode Island), the University of Arizona and the University of California, Berkeley.

Joseph Nevins, Ph.D., professor of geography and director of the Independent Program at Vassar, said he believes the IBCREU is an invaluable experience because it allows students to learn from and work closely with some top scholars along the U.S.-Mexico border. The students also benefit from being able to conduct research alongside community partners familiar with the border.

Nevins said Carlos Espina, the student from Vassar, told him the program was “intellectually rigorous” and “eye-opening” in terms of the numerous field visits. Nevins said Espina looked forward to promoting the program at the professor’s next U.S.-Mexico border course.

Among the other 2018 student participants were UTEP seniors Estrella Loredo and Sandra Dominguez. Loredo is a political science major with a minor in intelligence and national security studies. Dominguez is a communication studies major with a minor in secondary education. Both were born elsewhere but grew up in or near El Paso, speak English and Spanish, and are familiar with the border.

Loredo said she applied for the program because of her interests in border studies, immigration and the plight of children who are subject to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. She had taken numerous courses about Latin America and had studied human trafficking. She called this program “an incredible opportunity” because it tied reality to classroom theory.

Among her duties were to help prepare a report on the closing of the border and to observe asylum cases at the El Paso Processing Center. She said the program broadened her knowledge of border policies and sharpened her critical thinking skills.

“It was an education to see how the legal system worked and didn’t work,” said Loredo, who assisted the Hope Border Institute. She called the court sessions informative, but emotionally draining. “Seeing people who requested asylum gave me a different perspective. It humanized the studies.”

Dominguez was part of the Border Network for Human Rights team. She attended weekly meetings that dealt with family separation issues and the Tornillo detention center.

As part of the network, she studied the effect of extreme militarization of the border, helped present to El Paso County Commissioners a resolution to close the Tornillo center, and observed numerous protests to include two that temporarily closed an international port of entry and the El Paso Processing Center. She said it was impressive to see how quickly the network could organize a protest, but heartbreaking to witness the human suffering.

Dominguez strongly suggested that other students – especially those who are passionate about the border – apply for this program because it will expand one’s perspective of border issues, knowledge of border policies, and network of academic and professional contacts.

“Although the program is only 10 weeks long, it will change your life,” Dominguez said.

Slack laughed and shook his head when asked about his plan for 2019 program. He said the evolving nature of politics on the border makes it uncertain. That said, he still hopes to launch additional investigations that could lead to groundbreaking border studies research.

Slack said he plans to expand on the 2018 program model. Among his ideas is to develop creative ways to involve more UTEP faculty and graduate students. Having said that, he admitted that everything depends on the policies coming out of Washington, D.C.

“What I learned from last summer is that we don’t know what’s coming next,” he said.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

UTEP’s Hawkins Named Conference USA Men’s Basketball Freshman of the Week

DALLAS  – UTEP guard Nigel Hawkins, who scored a career-high 24 points in UTEP’s dramatic 65-64 triumph on January 12, was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week presented by Top of the World and chosen by a vote from a media panel representing the 14-member schools.

Hawkins also produced career bests in made field goals (9-for-13) and shooting percentage (64.3), while chipping in with seven rebounds and an assist against the Owls. The Houston native also went 3-for-5 from three-point range and 3-for-4 from charity stripe.

Overall, Hawkins averaged 17.5 points per game, with 5.0 rebounds per contest and posted four assists during the Miners’ two contests last week. Hawkins shot 14-for-25 (56.0 percent) from the field, including a 4-for-8 effort from downtown and a 3-for-4 performance from the free-throw line.

On January 10, against North Texas, Hawkins scored 11 points and tallied three rebounds and three assists.

Hawkins has started in all 13 games played this season. The freshman ranks third on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg) and is averaging 4.8 rebounds. He’s dished out 23 assists, with five blocked shots and 11 steals.

For Hawkins, it’s his first FOTW honor, while it’s the fourth overall for the UTEP basketball program in 2018-19. Efe Odigie has earned it twice (Nov. 26, Dec. 24) and Jordan Lathon on Dec. 3. The Miners earned six FOTW honors in 2013-14 (Vince Hunter [five], Matt Willms [one]) and five in 2011-12 (Julian Washburn [four], Cedrick Lang [one]).

It’s also the first time in program history that a trio of UTEP freshmen have earned a FOTW honor.

Video+Gallery+Story: UTEP Fries Rice With Buzzer Beater 65-64

Jordan Lathon hit the game-winning jumper as time expired, lifting the UTEP Miners in an exciting, 65-64, triumph over Rice on Saturday night in the Don Haskins Center.

“Just the way we drew it up. First off want to say we probably wouldn’t have gotten this done tonight if we didn’t have the support behind us. Miner nation was great,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “The crowd gave us a lot of energy. We didn’t come out with a lot of pop to start. I don’t know what that was for, we just didn’t have a lot of energy to start the ball game, but our crowd really stayed behind us, and was really the difference in the game.”

Lathon finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, a team-high five assists, a blocked shot and two steals, helping the Miners (6-9, 1-3 C-USA) to their first Conference USA victory of the season.

The Owls’ Trey Murphy III had put his squad up 64-63 after he grabbed an offensive rebound and connected on a three-point bucket with 1.6 second left on the clock.

“I just knew we had to get a shot up,” Lathon said. “I started to make shots in the ball game and my confidence went up. I didn’t know we’d get another opportunity after [Murphy III] made that shot. It kind of hurt us. But we stayed together and we grew as a team tonight.”

Ountae Campbell’s first pass attempt was deflected out of bounds in the corner, taking time off the clock. Campbell, from the bottom corner and with .5 seconds remaining, threw the ball to an open Lathon. The ball took one bounce, Lathon grabbed it and nailed the jumper from the baseline just inside the three-point line.

“We were set up for our home run play, and Ountae was going to be the guy to make the pass for us,” Terry said. “They put a big guy on the ball just like you are supposed to. A lot of times you would like to have a big guy who is your homerun passer, but in that situation, we didn’t really have anyone other than him that could do that for us. Once the deflection happened it changed the angle of where we were taking the ball out. We were still trying to run the same play, but as the ball changed I told Ountae to throw it down the side.”

Lathon was mobbed by his teammates, coaches and fans while the referees looked at the play on the monitor. The refs declared the shot good, electrifying the Haskins Center and giving Terry his first league win as UTEP’s head coach.

The Miners found themselves down 17 points (25-8) at the 9:24 mark as the Owls (7-11, 2-3 C-USA) connected on seven three pointers during that stretch to start the contest. With the score tied 5-5, Rice proceeded to go on a 17-1 run, making the count 22-6.

A layup by UTEP’s other freshman star Nigel Hawkins made the score 25-10 that set the tone for the remainder of the first half. The Miners would go to the locker room only down five points (34-29).

Hawkins finished with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and chipped in with seven boards and an assist. Hawkins also went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

The second half was a back-and-forth battle between the two Texas rivals as the lead changed seven times. UTEP outscored Rice 8-2 on second chance points during the second period.

Lathon started a bit slow, scoring six points in the first half. But the Grandview, Mo., native and big Kansas City Chiefs fan, found his groove in the second half. Lathon hit the second of his three treys at the 14:06 mark to tie the contest 42-42. Lathon then gave the Miners a 49-47 lead with his third made three-point bucket at the 11:40 mark. He was a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown.

The Owls, prior to leading the ball game after Murphy III’s three-pointer, took a 56-52 lead with just over six minutes remaining. A made free throw by Hawkins and a three-point basket by Evan Gilyard tied the game 56-56 with 5:08 remaining to set up the drama for the 4,300-plus in the Bear’s Den.

Gilyard finished with 12 points, four rebounds and a steal. Campbell came off the bench, finished the game, and scored four points and tallied two assists, including the pass to Lathon. Efe Odigie grabbed nine rebounds and chipped in with six points, while Kobe Magee tallied two points and an assist.

The Miners outshot the Owls, 44.6 percent (25-56) to 36.7 percent (22-60). Rice was 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and outrebounded UTEP, 39-38.

“[Rice is] a team that makes nine threes a game, and they made 13 in the game tonight,” Terry said. “They shot 31 you know, so we knew coming in shooting defense was really big. If we could take their threes away then we really liked our chances in terms of what we needed to do. Give them a lot of credit they kept battling, and made it a tough ball game for us.”

Jack Williams made big shots for Rice, as he led his squad with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Robert Martin finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. They were the first to post a double-double against the Miners this season.

Up next, the Miners will hit the road for contests at UAB on Jan. 17 (6 p.m. MT) and Middle Tennessee on Jan. 19 (4 p.m. MT).

Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post

J2’s game-winning shot‼️.#BlueCollarMentality#NewEraUTEP

Posted by UTEP Basketball on Saturday, January 12, 2019

League-Leading Rice Downs UTEP 76-42

HOUSTON – 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 Saturday afternoon.

“I think what you saw today was a team that was fighting for a championship and pushing for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.” Baker said. “Our team is still climbing and trying to figure out who we are. We really struggled to put the ball in the hole. I hate that for them (the players) because they’re putting in a lot of hard work and aren’t seeing a lot of rewards for the hard work.”

The Miners (4-12, 1-2 C-USA) had an off shooting day (13-40, 32.4 percent) and also were challenged in the rebounding department (38-24), as the Owls (13-3, 4-0 C-USA) 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 games 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.

The Owls relied on a balanced attack, with five different players reaching double figures in scoring. Rice moved the ball effectively, piling up 21 assists on its 27 made field goals.

UTEP had an inauspicious start to the contest, with Baker forced to call a timeout after the Miners fell behind, 9-0, with 6:33 to play in the opening frame. Alexander got UTEP on the board with a pair of free throws. Hoy then started to get going, hitting a pair of triples and a jumper from the wing on the way to tallying eight points in the quarter. UTEP settled down some on defense, but still trailed by 13 (23-10) after the first quarter.

The two sides traded scores over the first five minutes of the second stanza, before a jumper from Alexander and a 3-pointer by Sabine Lipe fueled a 5-0 surge to get UTEP within single digits (31-22) with 4:05 remaining in the second quarter. Rice countered by scoring five straight of its own. The Miners tried to strike back, but were forced to settle for a 15-point deficit (40-25) heading into the locker room.

UTEP didn’t get off to the start it wanted to in the third quarter, with the Owls scoring the first nine points in the frame to put the Miners down by 24 (49-25). Zec stopped the sequence by connecting on a corner triple, but UTEP was unable to build on it. The margin was 23 (54-31) heading to the fourth quarter. The Orange and Blue continued to play hard down the stretch, but were unable to get closer than 20 the rest of the way.

UTEP will open up the home portion of its Conference USA slate by welcoming preseason favorite and defending regular-season champion UAB to the Don Haskins Center for a match-up at 7 p.m. MT on Thursday.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234.

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Flyin’ Miners Shine in First Indoor Meet of Season

Lubbock – The UTEP track and field team opened the 2019 indoor season at the Texas Tech Corky Classic at the Sports Performance Center on Saturday.

Transfer Kimisha Chambers wasted no time in getting out of blocks in her first meet with the Orange and Blue. The junior posted a third-place finish in the 200m clocking in a time of 24.20. She went on to register a personal best of 8.49 in the 60m hurdles finishing fifth overall. Chambers currently ranks 23rd nationally in the 60m hurdles with her time at the Texas Tech Corky Invitational.

In the field events, sophomore Karol Koncos returned to action after missing the 2018 season due to an injury. The thrower notched a winning mark of 18.54m (60-10) in his second attempt of the day.

Freshman Iason Machairas opened his collegiate career with a third-place finish in the shot put. He posted a mark of 17.11m (56-1.75) in his second attempt of the day.

Sophomore Etamar Bhastekar was the lone Miner in the pole vault and notched a fourth-place finish with a mark of 4.87m (15-11.75).

In her first meet with the Miners, Chantoba Bright posted a leap of 5.90m (19-4.25) in the long jump, which ranks her 24th nationally.

On the distance side, Cornelius Kapel took second in the mile run with a time of 4:16.68. Sophomore Boaz Ronoh led the Miners in the 3,000m finishing first overall clocking in at 8:51.26. Teammates Rodgers Korir and Kapel followed crossing the finish line at 8:54.80 and 8:59.34, respectively.

On the women’s side, sophomore Carolyne Chepkosgei opened the season with a personal-best time of 2:53.74, notching a first-place finish in the 1,000m.

Teammate Lilian Koech also recorded a winning time in the mile run crossing the finish line with a time of 4:59.88.

The sprinters also proved to be a threat on the track as underclassmen Annette Bolomboy and Natalia Roberts finished second and third in the 400m, respectively.

Freshman Dennis Johnson opened the season with a fourth-place finish crossing the finish line at 6.83 in the 60m.

Senior Kyle Farrell finished sixth out of 18 runners in the 200m with a time of 21.64. Teammate Sean Bailey ran in the 600m and posted a time of 1:10.07 taking second overall.

UTEP will be back in action next week at the Texas A&M Quad Meet in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.

UTEP to Host Improved Rice Squad Saturday Night

The UTEP men’s hoops team will conclude its three-game homestand against Conference USA foe Rice on Saturday night in the Haskins Center. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

“[Rice Head Coach] Scott Pera has five freshmen over there. Their young guys are playing well and he’s also got a transfer who’s playing well right now,” first-year UTEP head coach Rodney Terry said. “They can really shoot the basketball and score the ball from watching them play. They’re going to put a lot of pressure on us in terms of guarding and trying to defend the three-point line. In transition, they play fast and push the ball. It’s another game where we’ll have to come out and play hard defensively and try to execute on offense.”

The Miners (5-9, 0-3 C-USA) fell to league leader North Texas, 58-51, on Thursday, while the Owls (7-10, 2-2 C-USA), after winning a pair of league contests in a row, fell at UTSA, 95-79. Rice defended its home court by beating Southern Miss, 73-65, on Jan. 3 and LA Tech, 78-66, on January 5.

UTEP freshman sensation Efe Odigie led the Miners with 13 points and eight rebounds, while blocking a career-high four shots against the Mean Green. Odigie is the only C-USA player averaging a double-double (15.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg). Fellow freshman Nigel Hawkins was the only other Miner in double figures as he went for 11 points versus UNT. Hawkins added three assists and three rebounds.

Terry’s other freshman starter, Jordan Lathon, made his way back into the starting lineup after missing both of last week’s games against UTSA with an injury.

Lathon tied his career best with three steals and led his squad with four assists. Lathon chipped in with nine points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.

UTEP leading scorer Evan Gilyard (17.2 ppg) was held to eight points on Thursday, ending his double-figure scoring streak at a career-high nine games. Gilyard also tallied six rebounds.

The Miners blocked a season-high eight shots against the Mean Green, while forcing 19 turnovers. UTEP also held North Texas to its second-lowest point total of the season and fewest points in a half (22) during the opening 20 minutes.

UTEP’s scoring defense (68.7) and field goal percentage defense (.419) both rank sixth in C-USA.

The Owls’ scoring offense (75.9) is ranked fourth in the league, while their scoring defense (80.2) ranks 12th.

Rice freshman guard Chris Mullins leads the team at 13.0 points per game, while junior guard Ako Adams leads the team in assists (51) and ranks second at 12.5 points per contest. Junior forward Robert Martin ranks third on the squad in scoring (12.5 ppg). Graduate student 6-8 forward Jack Williams paces the team with 7.8 rebounds per game.

The Owls fell to UTSA as Mullins and freshman forward Quentin Millora-Brown each led with 14 points. Millora-Brown led Rice with eight rebounds and Mullins dished out a team-high four assists. The Roadrunners went 36-for-73 (49.3 percent) from the field, including a 12-for-31 effort from beyond the arc.

Saturday night’s contest will feature Miners Got Talent halftime performance.

Tickets start at $8, while UTEP student tickets are free by visiting Discounted tickets for groups of 15 or more are also available. Call 747-5234 for tickets.

The contest will be streamed on CUSA.TV and can be heard on KOFX 92.3 with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and Steve Yellin. The Spanish broadcast is on ESPN Deportes 1650AM with Omar Ropele and Abel Rodriguez.

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