UTEP Women’s Basketball Future Looks Bright
The UTEP women’s basketball season ended last night at the Don Haskins Center in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. The Miners led Oregon by as many as 18 points early in the second quarter, but the Ducks came back in the second half and defeated UTEP 71-67. Despite the loss, the 2015-16 season was a success for Keitha Adams and her team. They finished the season with a 29-5 overall record, and 9,055 fans packed the Haskins Center for the Oregon game.
UTEP seniors Cameasha Turner, Chrishauna Parker, Starr Breedlove, Agata Dobrowolska, Lawna Kennedy, Anete Kirsteine, and Rudiane Eduardo each left their mark on the program. Turner, Breedlove, and Parker made up a big core of the Miners scoring and rebounding, but the remaining four seniors were strong supporting players who each had plenty of shining moments with the team. It will not be easy for Coach Adams to replace a veteran team with seven seniors on the roster, but seven players will return next season who could all have a major impact on the team.
Jenzel Nash and Sparkle Taylor should anchor the offense. Nash was a CUSA First team player and Taylor was the league’s Sixth Player of the Year winner. Lulu McKinney should see extensive minutes next season as the Miners’ starting point guard and Najala Howell’s offseason development could make her a valuable role player as a sophomore. UTEP has a trio of post players who could turn the team’s low post game into a big strength. Tamara Seda and Daeshianna McCants will both be juniors and they both have the ability to score near the basket. Seda’s 6’4 size gives her the best advantage, and if she works hard this offseason on finishing around the basket, the Miners could have one of the most dangerous post players in the conference. Wiktoria Zapart also showed good toughness around the basket, as she adjusted to college basketball from her native Poland. 6’1 forward Jessica Barbosa sat out this season and will have four years of eligibility left.
Perhaps the biggest additions to next year’s team will be their new recruits. Coach Adams and her staff have already signed five players for next season. Axelle Bernard (Seward County Community College), Faith Cook (Goose Creek Memorial High School), Jakeira Ford (Port Arthur Memorial High School), Roeshanda Patterson (New Way Christian Academy) and Rachel Tapps (Cypress Ranch High School) have all signed national letters of intent to attend UTEP and play for the Miners. Bernard 6’2 and Ford 6’1 will both add size and strength to the Miners, while Cook and Patterson will give UTEP a spark at both guard positions. Bernard has developed a reputation as a shutdown defender, which will fit in perfectly with Coach Adams style of basketball. The team still has two scholarships left in the late period, and the future looks bright for Miner fans.