El Paso, TX — The UTEP women's basketball team began fall practice Monday, September 30 at the Foster Stevens Center... here are some notes on the team and this season:
The 2013-14 season will mark the 40th in program history. The Miners will be vying for their school-record eighth straight year with at least 16 wins. UTEP has not experienced a losing season since 2005-06.
*UTEP returns four starters & seven letterwinners overall while adding seven newcomers.
*UTEP will play host to the Conference USA Championships for the second time since joining the conference. The league’s pinnacle event is slated for March 11-15, 2014.
* The Miners are coming off their fourth 20+ win season in the past seven years. UTEP finished 22-10 & advanced to the 2013 Conference USA Semifinals in spite of having lost three key players to torn ACLs.
* Sophomore Irene Gari (5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg), junior Chrishauna Parker (9.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg & 3.9 apg) senior Kayla Thornton (15.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 61 steals) & senior Kelli Willingham (9.7 ppg, 2.9 apg & 2.8 rpg) return as starters from 2012-13.
* Sophomore Cameasha Turner (3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg & 1.0 apg) also earned a letter last year.
* Sophomore Jenzel Nash is expected back after missing the entire 2012-13 season due to a torn ACL in an exhibition contest while senior Kristine Vitola was granted a redshirt after competing in just three games before also sustaining a torn ACL. Zuberi Allen’s year was cut short as well, halting after 21 contests due to a torn ACL.
* Reinforcements are also on the way for the 2013-14 campaign in the form of a six-member recruiting class. Sophomore Agata Dobrowolska (member of the junior national team in Poland), sophomore Anete Kirsteine (2012 All-Jayhawk West second team & WBCA All-America honorable-mention), freshman Anzhelika Moiseychenko, freshman Sparkle Taylor (2012 & 2013 Associated Press Class B All-State team), junior & El Paso Stacie Telles (2013 Western Junior College Athletic Conference Second Team, 2013 All-Region 5 team & 2012 WJCAC honorable-mention) & junior Johnishia Welles (2013 All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Second Team, 2013 All-Region Second Team) should provide quality depth.
* Thornton was voted to the All-Conference USA Second Team in 2013, marking her second straight selection to the squad. The forward will be looking to join former Miner great Jareica Hughes as the only players in program history to earn at least three all-league accolades. Hughes was a four-time honoree.
* Thornton is on track to become the Miners’ career leader in rebounds, a record that has been held since 1982. She is currently third on the list with 688, trailing only Timika Williams (794, 2006-10) & Kim Watts (1978-82). Thornton is also within the top-10 for scoring at 1,016 & with a big year could grab that record. Hughes (1,555, 2006-10) is the school’s record holder in the category.
* UTEP is under the direction of 13th-year head coach Keitha Adams. The two-time Conference USA Coach of the Year (’08 & ’12) is the program’s all-time win leader with a mark of 206-157. Overall she stands at 333-194 in 17 years as a collegiate head coach.
* After setting a school record for single-season field-goal percentage defense (33.6%) in 2011-12, UTEP registered the second-best effort in the category in 2012-13 (34.6).
* The Miners have posted 10 straight years with 6+ league wins. Prior to Adams, UTEP achieved feat in four of 20 years when it was in a conference .