March 5, 2008
The No. 18 UTEP women's basketball team grabbed three of the six major Conference USA awards which were announced by the league office Wednesday morning. Sophomore Jareica Hughes was selected as the C-USA Player of the Year, Natasha Lacy snared the C-USA Newcomer of the Year and head coach Keitha Adams was tabbed the C-USA Coach of the Year.
Hughes becomes the first Miner in program history to be so honored, and just the second sophomore in league history to bring home the award. Lacy is the second player in program annals to win the award-Hughes did so a year ago- while Adams is the second coach in school history to be recognized.
The 5-3 guard and member of the All C-USA first team paces UTEP in assists (5.4) and scoring (13.5), while ranking second in steals (2.8). She checks in third in the league in assists, fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio and steals and ninth in scoring. Hughes is the only player in the league to rank in the top five for assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, steals and the top 10 for scoring.
The accomplishment is another piece of hardware in the trophy case for Hughes. Last season she was tabbed both the league's newcomer and freshman of the year, in addition to third-team all conference and a member of the defensive squad.
Lacy, a transfer from TCU, made an immediate impact at UTEP. Lacy has been racking up the awards this week, as she collected C-USA All-Defensive team and All-C-USA second team accolades on Tuesday as well as All-Academic honors last Friday. She was one of only two players on the squad to start every game and one of four, including Hughes, who averaged better than 10 points per game.
The El Paso, Texas, native ranked among the league's top 20 in five different categories, including second in steals, fifth in assists and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio as well as 12th in scoring and 17th in rebounding. Making her defensive accomplishments even more impressive was the fact that she ranked ninth in minutes played (34.1 mpg) and only averaged 2.0 fouls per game. Lacy, who has already earned her undergraduate degree, boasts an impressive 3.66 GPA while pursuing a master's degree in education.
Adams has done a fantastic job of guiding UTEP to unprecedented heights. The seventh-year coach has led UTEP to its first national ranking and initial conference crown in program history. And she has done so in historic fashion. UTEP became the first team in league history to go undefeated in conference play, and has won a nation-tying-best 21 straight games.
A candidate for national coach of the year, Adams became just the second member of the 100-win club at the school this year and has posted an impressive record of 47-10 since the start of the 2006 season. Moreover, UTEP has posted back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in the history of the program. Prior to Adams' arrival on campus, the school standard for single-campaign victories was 18.
The Miners are in the midst of preparing for the upcoming C-USA tournament in Orlando, Fla. UTEP will take on the winner of the East Carolina/Rice game at 6 p.m. MST on Friday. The game will be carried live locally in El Paso on KHRO 1650 AM.