Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez

UTEP squares off against Southern Miss on “Senior Day” Saturday

The UTEP women’s basketball team (14-12, 7-8 C-USA) will play host to Southern Miss (14-12, 6-9 C-USA) on “Senior Day” at 1 p.m. MT Saturday.

UTEP is looking to send out its four seniors – Ariona Gill, Neidy Ocuane, Jade Rochelle and Katarina Zec – in style. The quartet will be honored in a pre-game ceremony Saturday.

“Southern Mississippi is arguably the hottest team in Conference USA. They have been winning as of late and are playing a little bit of a different style from when we played them last time. Both of us are playing some good basketball this time of year so we believe it is going to be a great game,” head coach Kevin Baker said. “There is a lot on the line for this game, so we know that they will bring a lot of good energy to the Haskins Center. We hope to see a big crowd as we hope to send our seniors off in style.”

UTEP is 11-6 at home (5-3 C-USA), while Southern Miss is 5-5 on the road (4-3 C-USA). UTEP is alone in seventh place in the league standings at 7-8, while Southern Miss is one game back in a tie for eighth place at 6-9.

The Miners knocked off USM, 89-72, in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Jan. 9, and are in search of a season sweep.  UTEP is 2-0 on “Senior Day” under Kevin Baker.

As for team performance, Ariona Gill has hit double figures in scoring in eight straight games, and she is averaging 17.6 ppg and 10.4 rpg in the stretch.

Katia Gallegos has the fourth-most assists (127) by a Miner freshman, Shalana Taylor (142 assists, 2004-05) holds the Miner freshman record in a year, followed by Jareica Hughes (137 assists, 2006-07) and Kelli Willingham (128 assists, 2010-11)

Regardless of class, Gallegos is 10th on the UTEP single-season list, she needs two helpers to move into ninth, four to take over eighth, and 11 to vault up to seventh

After Southern Miss, UTEP will venture to preseason favorite Rice for a 6 p.m. MT/7 p.m. CT tip-off on March 5. The game is part of a season-closing stretch with five of seven on the road. The Miners will then wrap up the regular season at North Texas at 6 p.m. MT/7 p.m. CT on March 7.

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

The contest will be streamed by (subscription based). It will also be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso with Duke Keith and Traci Miller on the call.