Coming off its third-biggest margin of victory in a conference contest in program history, the UTEP women’s basketball team will lock up against defending C-USA regular season and tournament champion Rice at the Don Haskins Center at 7 p.m. MT on Thursday.
The Miners moved to 4-1 in league action by throttling UTSA, 94-54, on Jan. 18. UTEP’s four league wins have been by an average of 29.5 points. The Owls have won 25 straight Conference USA contests, including standing 6-0 in C-USA this year.
Most recently, Rice bested Southern Miss at home, 75-64, on Jan. 18. UTEP is 9-3 at home, including 3-0 in league action. The Owls are 3-2 on the road, which includes a 2-0 mark in C-USA contests.
The Miners are tied for second place in C-USA at 4-1 (ODU is also 4-1), while Rice paces the league at 6-0.
“Rice is a very interesting team because they play just like we do. They love to run in transition, they love to score in transition. They are very fast. When they don’t score in transition, they run a solid four out, one in, halfcourt attack, and that sounds an awful lot like to us,” head coach Kevin Baker shared. “We mirror each other in a lot of ways. The one area we don’t mirror them is they have a really big post player.”
In 2018-19 the Miners were decimated by injuries and finished the year at 9-22. It is a much different story this year, with UTEP (11-4) having already surpassed its overall win total from a season ago.
The Miners are 4-1 in league play, good enough for a share of second place in the league. Last year they started conference action at 1-8 en route to finishing 5-11 in the league.
UTEP has three wins by at least 30 points in league play, which is the most such victories in a single season in program history. In fact the Miners had achieved the feat seven times total prior to this year, with the 2003-04 team (twice) previously holding the standard for a single season.
UTEP has tallied at least 80 points in a school-record four consecutive contests. The Miners are averaging 89.8 points in the stretch, aided by a pair of 90+ point outbursts. UTEP is shooting a combined 51.0 percent (126-247) during the hot streak, including 44.0 percent (33-75) from 3-point range. The team is piling up 19.5 assists per contest over the surge, led by Katia Gallegos at 7.9 apg.
Nine of UTEP’s victories have been by double figures, including six of at least 20 points. It is the most wins by 20+ points since 2013-14 (nine).
The Miners had their largest differential (+45) under head coach Kevin Baker in a 92-47 drubbing of Alcorn State (11/16/19), which tied as the 10th-biggest margin of victory in program history. They’ve also taken down UTSA (1/18/20) by 40 (94-54), Florida Atlantic (1/4/20) by 31 (96-65), FIU (1/2/20) by 30 (64-34), Western Michigan (11/29) by 30 (76-46) and NM State (11/23/19) by 20 (64-45).
Overall UTEP’s scoring margin (+13.1) leads C-USA and is 37th in the country.
Fans are encouraged to connect with the Miners on Facebook (UTEP Women’s Basketball), Instagram (@utepwbb) and Twitter (@UTEPWBB).
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234. The game will be streamed on CUSA.TV (subscription based) and through the 600 ESPN El Paso website with Duke Keith and Traci Miller on the call.