UTEP Women Ready for Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside
The UTEP women's basketball team took an early flight this morning and arrived in Los Angeles as they prepare for a pair of key road games to wrap up their non-conference schedule. Tomorrow night the Miners play Cal State Fullerton and the next day they square off with UC Riverside. 600 ESPN El Paso will broadcast both games with Traci Miller joining me courtside for all the action.
The Miners last played at home on December 2nd, but they come into California winners of two of their last three road games. UTEP needed overtime to fend off East Carolina 93-79 while they played an uncharacteristic low scoring game against Samford and won 46-33. The key for UTEP has been rebounding, and the team ranks sixth nationally in rebounding margin (+12.7). However, turnovers have killed Kevin Baker's team, and many of the 20.5 giveaways have been unforced. The Miners are led by senior Tamara Seda (13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game) and junior Najala Howell (12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game). Improved play by sophomores Faith Cook, Katarina Zec, and Roeshonda Patterson have all been important contributors to the Miners' non-conference success and newcomer Jordan Alexander has been a constant both offensively and rebounding.
After starting off the season with just one win in their first eight regular season games, Cal State Fullerton has reeled off three straight victories over Antelope Valley, UT-San Antonio, and Utah Valley. The Titans were predicted to finish ninth in the Big West coaches and media preseason polls, but their three-game winning streak is the longest since the 2014-15 season. They are led by 6-3 junior Daeja Smith, who is averaging 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The Miners and Titans will tip off at 8pm MT tomorrow night.
On Saturday, the Miners will play on less than 24-hours rest when they square off with the Highlanders. Despite a 3-10 record, UC Riverside has played a pair of ranked teams in Stanford (#14) and UCLA (#7). They have arguably played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in college basketball, with opponents including USC, Fresno State, SMU, UNLV, Arizona State, Iowa State, South Dakota, and Minnesota. The Highlanders are led by senior guards Michelle Curry (13.5 points per game), Lauren Holt (12.4 points per game), and junior forward Skyler Lewis (9.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game).