29-4, C-USA Champs & NCAA Tourney Participants: Recapping The 2011-12 Season
May 2, 2012
Heading into the 2011-12 women’s basketball season, head coach Keitha Adams had a good feeling. It didn’t have to do with the fact that the Miners returned some talented players, nor was it that they were healthy and had as much depth as any team in program history.
Rather, it stemmed from how UTEP handled the adversity-riddled 2010-11 campaign. Four key players were sidelined with season-ending injuries and a school-record 12 of the 14 losses was by single figures.
Yet throughout it all, the team never quit on Adams.
Rather they fought and persevered to post a winning record (16-14), and it was the attitude of being a fighter that had Adams believing it could be a special season.
And as it turned out, she was exactly right. UTEP set both a school (men’s & women’s) and Conference USA record for single-season wins (29-4) during a memorable campaign.
“We had a great season,” Adams said. “It was a lot of fun. These young ladies made history. We went dancing. Special things happen when everyone puts the team first, and understands that it’s about being a team and being sisters.”
The Miners jumped out to a program-best 10-0, lost two games by a combined three points, then peeled off 15 straight triumphs to clinch the Conference USA regular-season title while averaging better than 4,243 fans in league action.
“Reflecting back I have to say that our home games were very special,” Adams said. “We had great crowds that got really loud and behind us. Our players really fed off of that, and it was a memorable experience for all of us.”
After an emotional loss to Rice the Miners bounced back on the way to winning their first Conference USA Tournament championship.
The campaign came to a close with a 85-77 setback to No. 11 Penn State, but even in defeat, Adams had her head held high.
“Our game vs. Penn State was a tough battle,” Adams said. “I was very proud of our team. We were tied at halftime and just came up short at the end. Our effort and fight in that game was excellent. We gave it our all.”
The Miners set single-season records for blocked shots (197), rebounding margin (+9.5), scoring defense (54.) and scoring margin (13.4). Adams was named the C-USA Coach of the Year for the second time of her career.
Gloria Brown was voted first-team All C-USA, a member of the all-defensive team, repeated as the Sixth Player of the Year while being voted as the 2012 C-USA Tournament Championship MVP. Kayla Thornton was a second-team All C-USA honoree and joined Brown on the all-tournament squad while Kelli Willingham landed on the C-USA Academic All-Conference Team.