As expected, UTEP's Kayla Thornton was named to the C-USA's First Team and All_Defensive team today by league coaches. The UTEP senior and El Paso native returned to practice today and will play in the C-USA Tournament, which begins on Tuesday. Thornton is just 29 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer on program history. Here is the official release from UTEP Athletics.

IRVING, TEXAS. – Senior Kayla Thornton has secured First-Team All-Conference USA honors while also earning placement on the five-member All-Defensive squad, the league office revealed Sunday.

Thornton, a second-team honoree in 2012 and 2013, becomes the second Miner in program history to garner at least three all-conference accolades. Former Miner great Jareica Hughes was recognized all four years of her prolific career (2007-10).

Thornton also joins Hughes as the lone players in school history to be a two-time member of the All-Defensive squad. Thornton was so distinguished last year while Hughes was recognized
in 2007 & 2009.

UTEP has now been recognized on an all-conference squad for eight straight years.
“Conference USA has a lot of very talented women’s basketball players,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “To be recognized as a first team all-conference player is a big accomplishment. Kayla has worked hard to achieve this, and I’m very proud of her.”

The El Paso native is the only player in C-USA to rank in the top five in the league for steals (2.3-third), rebounding (10.6-third) and scoring (19.7-fifth). She leads the Miners in each of those categories.

She has posted a UTEP single-season school-record 16 double-doubles. Thornton tallied nine points in the campaign-opening victory against UTPB before hitting double figures for a program-best 25 straight games. She sustained an injury against East Carolina on Feb. 22, and was forced to miss the final three games of the regular season.

In addition to the steals, Thornton has been a defensive presence with blocked shots. Her 1.2 blocked shots per game rank second on the squad and 12th in C-USA. A four-time C-USA Player of the Week honoree during the 2013-14 season, Thornton registered 14 different games with at least 20 points. Included among those contests was the first 20/20 effort in school history against Tulsa on Jan. 11.

The 2014 Conference USA Basketball Championships will be held in El Paso from March 11-15, and tickets can be purchased by calling (915) 747-6150. UTEP, which received a double-bye as result of its finishing third in league play, will square off against either Louisiana Tech, North Texas or Charlotte in the quarterfinals of the event at 5 p.m. MDT inside historic Memorial Gym on Thursday.

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