UTEP women’s basketball (3-2, 0-0 C-USA) tips off Conference USA play Friday afternoon on New Year’s Day, January 1, at 1 p.m. against Southern Miss (2-0, 0-0 C-USA) in the Don Haskins Center.
It will be a two-game, back-to-back series as he next day, Saturday, January 2, the two will square off at 12 p.m. MT. Officials have decided that the contests will be held without any fans in attendance.
“Conference USA is very solid this season,” said UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker. “Most of the teams in our league are playing some great basketball. This may be as good as I have seen our conference in the four years I have been at UTEP. Every game this season will be a great challenge. As a coach, I love that. We have to be ready for any and all games. Our conference is getting better and better. Hopefully, fans will be able to see that this year.”
The Miners have won 10 of their last 11 conference openers and have won three in a row: against FIU (Jan. 5, 2018), UTSA (Jan. 5, 2019) and FIU (Jan. 2, 2019).
The Miners swept the Lady Eagles in last season’s two-game series on Jan. 9, 2020, 89-72, and Feb. 29, 2020, 80-72. Then-freshman guard Katia Gallegos recorded a then-career-high 23 points in the first contest and then-freshman guard Avery Crouse poured in 21 points to match her career-high in the February matchup. The all-time series between the two programs rests in UTEP’s favor, 15-9.
“Southern Miss is undefeated and playing well largely due to the play of their freshman Melyia Grayson,” Baker added “She is leading their team in scoring so far this season.
“Southern Miss brings in yet another very athletic and fast team. Every time we match up with them it ends up being a great game. Friday and Saturday’s contests will be no different.”
After seeing the first five games of their season canceled, the Lady Eagles are off to a 2-0 start with victories over Nicholls on Dec. 18, 63-50, and William Carey on Dec. 19, 57-50. Southern Miss is riding off brilliant performances from two of its newcomers.
Most recently, freshman Melyia Grayson dropped 21 points off 9-of-17 shooting in the Lady Eagles’ victory over William Carey. Grayson also pulled down eight rebounds in her career night. Freshman Kahia Warmsely added 10 points of her own. Against Nicholls, junior college transfer Fess Hawkins recorded a double-double in her first D-I game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Grayson also had 10 points in 15 minutes.
Southern Miss was slotted to finish 11th in the C-USA poll after a 15-15 (7-11 C-USA) record in 2019-20.
UTEP dropped its second game of the season on Dec. 17 against a rising power in the Big Sky Conference in NAU, 83-75. The Miners overcame two double-digit deficits but could not prevail in the fourth quarter. Despite the loss, UTEP had four players score in double-figures: Michelle Pruitt with 17 points, DejaNae Roebuck with 12 points, Katia Gallegos with 11 points and Isis Lopes with 10 points.
Six of Lopes’ 10 points came off two clutch 3-pointers in the second half which helped cut the Lumberjacks’ lead. She also recorded three rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes.
For complete coverage of UTEP women’s basketball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPWBB (Twitter), @utepwbb (Instagram) and on Facebook or click here to visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.
Venue: Don Haskins Center
Tipoff: 1 P.M. MT
Video Stream: C-USA.TV
Radio/Audio Stream: 600 ESPN El Paso/UTEP Miners App
Radio Talent: Tim Hagerty