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Senior Anete Steinberga (first team) and junior Kayla Thornton (second team) have been named to the 2013 All-Conference USA teams, the league office announced Sunday. Additionally, Thornton was voted to the five-member all-defensive team.
It marks the second straight year that Thornton has been so distinguished (2012 2nd team) while it serves as the initial placement on the all-conference squad for Steinberga.
Thornton becomes the first Miner since Jareica Hughes (four straight years, 2007-10) and fifth overall to garner multiple all-conference accolades. Monica Ramirez (1993 & 1994), Kiana Taylor (1996 & 1997) and Amy Pack (2000 & 2001) also achieved the feat, when UTEP was a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
It is the second straight year and fifth occasion overall in program history that the Miners have placed multiple players on the all-league team. Overall, UTEP has now been represented on the all-conference squad for seven straight years.
“To be recognized on the all-conference team is a great honor and accomplishment,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Anete and Kayla both compete extremely hard and have great work ethics. This recognition is well deserved for these two young ladies! I’m happy for them.”
Steinberga is the only player in C-USA to be in top 12 for points per game (15.3-t7th), rebounds per game (7.4-12th) and field-goal percentage (43.4-12th). She shares the team lead for scoring while placing third in rebounding. The lone senior on the squad has delivered game in and game out. She has reached double figures in scoring in a school-record 20 straight contests and team-best 26 times on the year.
Steinberga also paces the squad in free-throws made (99) and free-throws attempted (134), and is one of three Miners with at least 80 offensive rebounds (81). She had just two points in the season opener but has responded to tally at least eight points in each of the games since. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by the league office, twice earning the C-USA Player of the Week award (1/14/13 & 3/9/13).
Thornton is one of two players in C-USA to be in top 10 for both rebounds per game (8.7-t5th) and points per game (15.3-t7th). She shares the team lead in scoring while pacing it outright in double-doubles (10) and steals (56). The El Paso native places second on the squad in minutes per game (30.6), double-digit scoring games (20), double-figure rebounding games (12), rebounds and offensive boards (91). She is one of three Miners to make at least 70 free throws (78-of-112).
With three key players lost to torn ACLs, Thornton has had to take on an extra work load. She has played 30-plus minutes in 13 of the past 16 games while still continuing to deliver. The honor adds to her list of accomplishments this year. Previously she was named the 2012 Junkanoo Jam MVP after guiding the Miners to the title. She was also the C-USA Player of the Week (12/17).
UTEP will open up its defense of the 2012 C-USA tournament title when it faces Marshall at the 2013 edition of the event at 1:30 p.m. MT on Wednesday. The fifth-seeded Miners will be looking to avenge a regular-season loss against No. 12 Marshall, with the victor advancing to face fourth-seeded UAB on Thursday. The game will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 1150 AM and fans can also get updates by following the team on twitter (www.twitter.com/UTEPWBB).
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