UTEP to wrap up nonconference play at home vs. Tulsa on Sunday

The UTEP women’s basketball team (7-3) will close out nonconference play when it welcomes former C-USA and WAC foe Tulsa (4-8) to the Don Haskins Center for a 1 p.m. MT match-up at the Don Haskins Center Sunday.

UTEP enters the contest on a mini two-game skid, with the losses by a combined 15 points. Most recently the Miners fell at SMU, 60-56, on Dec. 19.

The Golden Hurricane snapped a six-game losing streak by besting Colorado State, 61-55, on Dec. 21.

“Tulsa will be a challenge for us because they have a good mixture of athleticism, solid guard play, and strong post play inside. We will need to play well to have success against them. But our young team is hungry, and is eager to bounce back,” head coach Kevin Baker shared.

UTEP enters its final nonconference game of the season at 7-3, which is a stark reversal from a year ago. The Miners were 2-8 at this juncture in 2018-19, and eventually finished the year at 9-22. 

Five of UTEP’s victories have been by double figures, including three of at least 20 points. The Miners had their largest differential (+45) under head coach Kevin Baker in a 92-47 drubbing of Alcorn State (11/16), in addition to toppling Western Michigan (11/29) by 30 (76-46) and a 20-point (65-45) dispatching of NM State (11/23).

It marks the first time since 2013-14 that UTEP posted at least three nonconference wins against DI programs by 20+ points. That year the Miners had six such efforts prior to league action.

Tulsa heads into its nonconference finale at 4-8 on the year, which has been hindered by going a combined 0-6 in road (0-4) and neutral (0-2) matches. The Golden Hurricane are coming off a 61-55 home win against Colorado State on Dec. 21. The effort snapped a six-game losing streak.

Tulsa is paced by Kendrian Elliott, who is nearly averaging a double-double with 16.2 points per game (sixth AAC/111th NCAA) and 8.8 rebounds per contest (sixth AAC/72nd NCAA). Elliott is shooting 60.8 percent from the floor, which leads the AAC is rates 21st nationally. She also posts a team-best 1.7 blocks per game (fourth AAC/76th NCAA).

Addison Richards (9.3 ppg) is also a consistent scoring threat. Tulsa is 3-0 on the year when scoring at least 65 points and 3-1 when leading at the half.

UTEP is 21-11 against Tulsa, aided by winning 15 of the past 16 in the series. The Miners and Golden Hurricane played at least once annually from 1999-2000 through the 2013-14 season, first as members together in the WAC and then in C-USA before TU departed for the American Athletic Conference.

TU knocked off the Miners, 66-45, in El Paso on Dec. 29, 2018, to snap UTEP’s 15-game winning streak in the series. UTEP is 12-4 when playing in El Paso, and is riding a 10-contest surge in the Sun City against Tulsa.

Katarina Zec (season-high 16 points) and Zuzanna Puc (13 points) each reached double figures in scoring but a slow start proved fatal in UTEP’s 66-45 setback at Tulsa on Dec. 29. The Miners dug themselves a 20-point hole (25-5) through 10 minutes of action and could never recovery against the Golden Hurricane.

UTEP won the second (11-10) and third quarters (18-14) before being outpaced slightly (17-11) in the final frame. The Orange and Blue were without their second-leading scorer (Ariona Gill), who missed the contest with an injury.

Freshman Sabine Lipe started in her place, contributing a career-best six assists and three boards. UTEP finished at 32.7 percent (18-55) from the floor, recording 13 assists on its 18 made field goals. It also took decent care of the ball with 15 turnovers, but the first quarter was too much to overcome.

Rebounding favored Tulsa slightly (36-33), but the Miners enjoyed a 26-20 cushion for points in the paint. Jade Rochelle set the tone for the Orange and Blue on the boards by grabbing a team-best seven caroms. In terms of scoring, Jordan Alexander (seven points), Ariana Taylor (five points) and Rochelle (four points) followed after Zec and Puc.

The game will be streamed on CUSA.TV (subscription based) and streamed through 600 ESPN El Paso with Adrian Broaddus and Traci Miller on the call. 

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