UTEP’s Irene Gari has been chosen as the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Monday.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized by our conference,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Irene had a good week, and she’s playing with confidence.”
Gari delivered back-to-back impressive performances to help the Miners (8-1) notch a pair of wins. The native of Spain reached double figures in scoring against both NM State (19 points) & Eastern New Mexico (14) while also grabbing five rebounds in each of the games. Gari drilled a combined 13-of-22 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from three-point range, while also hitting on 2-of-3 free throws.
Her size also helped the Miners’ defensive efforts, with both NM State and ENMU being held to below 23 percent from the floor. UTEP had never multiple teams to lower than 23.0 percent in a single season, let alone in back-to-back contests.
She was aggressive against the Aggies with 15 of her points in the first half to help UTEP stake a 36-14 advantage at the break. Gari followed suit vs. ENMU, with 11 points over the first 20 minutes aiding the Miners to a 43-18 cushion entering the locker room. She also showed off her versatility vs. the Zias with three assists.
Her prior career high had been seven points, a figure she topped in each of the games.
Gari’s emergence has been important, especially considering that the Orange and Blue have lost two starters due to injuries for the remainder of the year. Her play, along with the rest of the team, has UTEP flying high.
The Miners have sustained just one loss through nine games for the fourth time in program history. UTEP was 9-0 at this juncture in 2011-12 while standing 8-1 in both 1996-97 and 2006-07.
The Miners will be idle for the upcoming week due to finals before returning to action at Big 12 member Kansas State at 12 p.m. MST Sunday. The game will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 1150 AM.