HP Sports In Depth: UTEP Takes On ODU to Tip Off C-USA Tourney Wednesday Night

The number 11 seed UTEP (8-22) will match up against the number 6 seed Old Dominion (16-13) in the first round of the 2017 Conference USA Championships presented by MetroPCS at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST  Wednesday at Bartow Arena on the campus of UAB.

The winner will advance to face No. 3 seed Southern Miss at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST Thursday.

Three members of the 2017 All C-USA Teams will be in action:  UTEP’s Sparkle Taylor, ODU’s Jennie Simms and Destinee Young.

The two squads are locking up for the second time in less than a week. Old Dominion knocked off the Miners, 87-68, at home on March 2, 2017. It was a seven-point game (39-32) at the half before ODU pulled away.

The Miners and Lady Monarchs are meeting in C-USA Championships for the second time in as many years. Last year then fifth-seeded Old Dominion upset the top-seeded Miners, 66-54, in the 2016 semifinals (3/11/16).

Both the Miners (0-5) and Lady Monarchs (0-2) are winless in neutral-site contests in 2016-17. UTEP is 16-23 all time in conference tournament play (12-9 in C-USA; 4-14 as a member of WAC). UTEP is 13-14 in league tournament action under Keitha Adams, including 11-8 since the 2008 edition.

The game will streamed live on Campus Insiders with Curt Bloom (play-by-play) Holly Berry (Analyst) on the call.Steve Kaplowitz (play-by-play) and Traci Miller (color commentary) will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. Fans are encouraged to also follow the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Lady Monarchs (@ODUWBB) on Twitter.

In Depth

–  The Miners have played in the quarterfinal round in nine of their 11 trips to the C-USA Championships. The only two times that UTEP didn’t advance beyond the first round (either with a win or bye) was in 2006 and 2015.

–  The Miners have advanced to the league semifinals in four of the past five years, five times total since joining C-USA and eight occasions in program history (WAC- 1993, 1995 and 2004; C-USA 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).

–  UTEP has played in the championship contest twice (2008 and 2012), winning it all in 2012.

–  UTEP has a double-digit seed at the C-USA Championships for just the fourth time in its 12th appearance since joining the league (2005-06). Overall it is the fifth seed of 10 or lower in program history.

–  The No. 11 seed matches the lowest in program history (2015), but it also affords the Miners a chance to pull off their biggest upset at the event. The biggest to date was No. 10 seed UTEP besting No. 7 seed Rice (62-61) in 2010.

–  Only four Miners (senior Sparkle Taylor, juniors Lulu McKinney and Tamara Seda and sophomore Najala Howell) have experience playing at the C-USA Championships.

–  Taylor has averaged 7.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 21.6 minutes in five total games played (all off bench).

–  In her three games (one start), McKinney has averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 assists in 27. 7 minutes.

–  Seda averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 15.5 minutes in two games last year

–  Howell earned a combined five minutes of playing time in two games last years, misfiring on her only shot.


–  Old Dominion leads the series, 4-2, including the recent 87-68 home victory on March 2.

–  Last year UTEP won the regular-season match-up (70-64, 2/25/16) but the Lady Monarchs avenged the setback in a 66-54 conquest in the semifinals of the 2016 C-USA Championships.

GETTING TO KNOW OLD DOMINION  – Overall: 16-13   Home: 10-5 Road 6-6     Neutral 0-2

C-USA: 11-7    Home: 5-4   Road 6-3

–  Old Dominion is one of eight programs (through the end of 2015-16 season) with at least 1,000 wins.

–  Made 25 NCAA Tournament appearances (most recent ‘07-08), including winning it all in 1985. Has a total of three national championships and produced 54 All-Americans.

–  Returned all five starters from last year’s team (17-17, 10-8 C-USA).

–  ODU went 5-6 in non-conference play, which was hurt by an 0-3 road record but it bounced back to forge an impressive 6-3 mark in its nine conference contests.

–  After 3-4 start to C-USA play, the Lady Monarchs won eight of their final 11 to finish at 11-7 the league.

–  ODU paces the league in rebounds/game (41.4), rebound margin (+7.2) and total rebounds (1202). It is also third in field-goal percentage (44.5) and 3-point field-goal percentage (34.6), fourth in total blocked shots (115), blocks/game (4.0), field-goal percentage defense (40.3), sixth in assists/game (14.8) and scoring offense (70.6) and seventh in total assists (428) and free-throw percentage (69.6)

–  ODU has top-100 NCAA team rankings several categories: it is 21st in rebound margin, 35th in field-goal percentage, 42nd in rebounds/game, 57th in 3-point field-goal percentage, 74th in scoring offense and 86th in assists/game, 90th in blocked shots/game and 96th in total blocked shots.

–  Led by 6-0 redshirt-senior guard and 2017 Conference USA Player of the Year Jennie Simms. She is sixth all time at ODU (2,089) for scoring. She needs 24 points to move into fifth place at the school.

–  Simms is the nation’s second-leading scorer (25.7 points/game). She also paces C-USA and is among the NCAA’s leaders for field-goals made (255-fourth) and attempts (536-ninth), free throws made (176-sixth). Simms’s 226 free-throw attempts is second in the league and ninth nationally. Simms is also fifth in C-USA for minutes/game (36.1), sixth in rebounds/game (8.0) and eighth in assists/game (4.3).

–  Simms is one of two players nationally (Tori Jankoska, Michigan State) to account for account for 20+ points/game, 8+ rebounds/game and 4+ assists/game this season.

–  Simms has recorded 30+ points 11 times, including two games with 40 or more. Her season-high of 43 points against Marshall (ODU W, 77-69, 1/5/17) is a Ted Constant Center women’s record and is the highest single-game scoring total in the conference this season.

–  2017 All-Conference USA second team honoree and All-Defensive Team member Destinee Young provides a perfect compliment to Simms. She is first in C-USA and among the national leaders for rebounds/game (10.9-ninth), offensive rebounds/game (4.0-15th), total rebounds (316-16th), double-doubles (15-18th) and defensive blocks/game (7.0-28th).

–  Young is also fourth in C-USA and 96th nationally for blocks/game (1.6).

–  After Simms (25.7) and Young (11.1), five other players contribute between 4.0-5.9 points/game.

–  Notable alumni include Ben Bailey (host of TV show Cash Cab) and Nancy Lieberman (Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer).

LAST MEETING WITH OLD DOMINION: (at Old Dominion 87, UTEP 68, March 2, 2017)

–  Sparkle Taylor continued her blistering play offensively with a 27-point outburst while Tamara Seda (13 points) andLulu McKinney (10 points) also reached double figures in scoring but it wasn’t enough in a 87-68 setback at Old Dominion on March 2, 2017

–  Jennie Simms poured in 30 points to go along with seven assists to lead the charge for the Lady Monarchs. ODU also received big games from Destinee Young (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Ashley Jackson (12 points, six rebounds).

–  UTEP took good care of the basketball (13 turnovers) while forcing 17 giveaways that led to 18 points, kept it competitive on the glass (ODU, 38-33) and shot 39.4 percent (28-71) but the home side compensated for all that with a tremendous shooting night. The Lady Monarchs nailed 60.7 percent (37-61) from the field, including 76.9 percent (10-13) in the third quarter and 66.7 percent (10-15) in the final frame.

–  ODU built a 34-20 lead midway through the second quarter but UTEP fought to get within seven (39-32). Unfortunately the Lady Monarchs used a 9-0 run early in the third quarter to push out by 15 and UTEP couldn’t get closer than 10 the rest of the way.

GOING BACK IN TIME at Charlotte 84, UTEP 74 (3/4/17)

–  UTEP fought hard but was upended in its regular-season finale by a count of 84-74 at Charlotte on March 4.

–  The Miners came out firing to lead by as many as 15 (37-22, 6:49 second quarter) but to their credit the 49ers fought back. They did so primarily at the charity stripe, making 22-25 tosses. UTEP finished at 6-8 from the line, and was tagged for 25 of the 35 infractions in the contest.

–  UTEP shot 43.7 percent (31-71) from the floor-compared to the 49ers’ readout of 38.4 percent (28-73) and kept it close on the glass (Charlotte, 47-40), yet the discrepancy at the line proved to be too much to overcome.

–  Seven different Miners tallied at least six points in the contest, with Tamara Seda (17 points, eight points) and Najala Howell (11 points, six rebounds) leading the way.

–  Lulu McKinney flirted with a double-double (eight points, eight assists).

–  Freshmen Jakeira Ford and Zuzanna Puc also pitched in eight points while Roeshonda Patterson drilled a pair of triples.

–  Sparkle Taylor scored six points to go along with eight rebounds.