UTEP Women's Basketball Notes / Game Four / At NMSU

Nov. 27, 2007

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Miners Set For Aggies

The UTEP women's basketball team (2-1) takes to the road to take on its I-10 rival New Mexico State at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday. The Aggies are 4-0 on the year.

Series Swinging Toward The Miners

The game against NMSU will mark the 69th meeting all time between the two programs. While New Mexico State has controlled the series historically (42-26), the pendulum of momentum is heading toward the Sun City. UTEP has won six of the past six match-ups, including a sweep of the series the past two years.

UTEP Left In The Dark

The Miners are playing just their fourth game on the year, as result of the power outage in El Paso on Nov. 24 that wiped out the championship game at the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic. UTEP and Nevada were ready to tangle, but it was not to be.

UTEP Knocks Off Cal State Fullerton

Four Miners turned in double-digit scoring efforts to lead the UTEP women's basketball team to a 78-71 triumph against an upstart Cal State Fullerton squad on the opening day of the Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 23. UTEP went on a 25-7 during a seven-minute span late in the first half to turn a six-point deficit into a lead they would never relinquish.

Scouting The Aggies

New Mexico State at 4-0 on the year is one of just 29 undefeated teams remaining in Division I this year. It is the best start for the Aggies since 1993. NMSU is led by a trio of players in double figures, with Sherrell Neal leading the way at 15.0 ppg.

Taking Care Of Business At Home

The win against Cal State Fullerton marked the 14th triumph in the past 15 home games for UTEP. Success at home is nothing new for the Miners, though, as they have racked up 44 wins the past four years, making the Don Haskins Center one of the toughest places to play not only in C-USA but the nation as well.

UTEP Starts Slow, Finishes Strong

The Miners have shown a knack for stepping it up after letting the opposition vault out to an early lead. UTEP trailed 26-12 at Nebraska with 9:37 to play in first half, but the Miners came alive and took a 41-38 lead into the locker room. Against Cal State Fullerton, the Titans held a 23-16 lead with a little less than 10 minutes left in the half. UTEP went on a 25-7 run the next seven minutes en route to staking a 46-39 lead at the half.

Bench Provides Boost

After a slow start the first two games (23 points on 38.5 percent shooting), UTEP's bench stepped up its efforts significantly in the win against Cal State Fullerton. The Miners' reserves nearly equaled their season out-put, as they poured in 21 points on 42.1 shooting from the floor.

Making Strides In The Rebounding Department

The Miners, who struggled on the boards in their season-opening setback at Nebraska, have looked much better the past two contests. UTEP won the rebounding battle against both Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Cal State Fullerton. It is no coincidence that the Miners emerged victorious in both of those contests.

Pressure Defense Pays Off

UTEP has displayed a high-pressure defense this year, and the results have been encouraging. The Miners have forced 58 turnovers in just three games. Aiding that figure has been 29 steals. The effort in that department has helped the Orange and Blue out-pace the opposition, 69-53, in points off turnovers in their three contests.

Get That Weak Stuff Out Of Here

UTEP has done a great job of defending the paint thus far, as the Miners have blocked 15 shots. At the other end of the court, the opposition has managed to block only one shot. Leading the block party has been Izabela Piekarska, who has swatted a team-high five shots. The imposing 6-5 center has paced Conference USA the past two years in rejections and ranks second in program history with 179 blocks.

UTEP Owns The Paint

After faring very well against Nebraska in the paint (UTEP out-scored the Huskers 38-36), the Miners have been flat out ridiculous the past two contests. The Orange and Blue have out-scored the opposition to the tune of 80-28 the past two contests, both games which have been won by UTEP.

Size Helping UTEP Do So

Part of UTEP's success in the paint can be attributed to Keitha Adams' ability to swap post players in and out, as she is blessed with a solid front court. And it doesn't hurt that UTEP has plenty of height, whether it be 6-5 Izabela Piekarska, 6-2 Claudia Porras and Stephanie Rosado, not to mention 6-1 Timika Williams and Tasha Marisett.

They're Called Free Throws For A Reason

While UTEP has done plenty of things well this year, one area it has struggled with early on is its free-throw shooting. UTEP enters the game against NMSU having connected on just 60.8 percent of their chances at the charity stripe. The Miners have knocked down 31-of-51 shots at the FT line this year.

Stepping Up When It Matters

While as a whole the Miners have struggled at the charity stripe, they did elevate their level down the stretch to ice the game against Cal State Fullerton. Seniors Natasha Lacy and Kasia Krezel combined to make five of six in the final minute to put away the Titans.

Offense Clicking On All Cylinders

UTEP's offensive output this year has been quite impressive. The Miners are shooting a sparkling 47.8 percent from the floor, which has helped them average 73.0 points per game.

It Could Be Even Better

While UTEP has been very effective offensively, it could be even more prolific if the Miners can cut down on their turnovers. Entering the tilt against NMSU, UTEP is averaging 18 giveaways per game.

Hughes Loves To Share

After missing the game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi due to an injury, sophomore Jareica Hughes returned in a big way in UTEP's triumph versus CSF. The point guard dished out eight assists, bringing her season total to 17. Most impressive is the fact that she has only committed four turnovers thus far.

Krezel Stepping Up

Kasia Krezel has done a solid job this year, as the senior is averaging 12.7 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per contest. The effort on the boards is especially impressive, considering Krezel's career average entering the year was just 2.4 rpg.

Double Your Pleasure

Sophomore forward Timika Williams notched her fifth-career double-double with a 22-point, 12-rebound effort to lead the Miners past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Williams has been a force this year on the glass, pulling down a team-best 25 boards. Included among that are 14 offensive caroms.

Double Your Pleasure Part Deux

Senior Tasha Marisett reached into her bag of tricks to record her sixth career double-double in the win against Cal State Fullerton on Friday. Doing her work off the bench, Marisett scored 13 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. Making the effort even more impressive is the fact that five of those boards were of the offensive variety.

Balanced Scoring Attack

Through three games, UTEP has been very balanced at the offensive end. Entering the game against NMSU, four players are averaging double digit in points. Leading the way is senior Natasha Lacy at 15.0 ppg. Sophomore point guard Jareica Hughes checks in second on the squad at 14.0 ppg while Kasia Krezel is contributing 12.7 ppg. Last, but certainly not least, is sophomore forward Timika Williams (11.3 ppg).

In Elite Company

Entering the season, seniors Izabela Piekarska and Kasia Krezel are on the cusp of becoming just the fourth and fifth members of the 1,000-career point club at UTEP. Heading into the game against NMSU, Piekarska and Krezel rank 10th and 12th, respectively, with career totals of 882 and 867. Each has an opportunity to break the school record as well. Be Stoney (1,249) holds the standard, while Kiana Taylor (1,134) and Holly Russ (1,068) are the other members in the exclusive club.

Recycled Notes

Miners Cruise Past Islanders, 67-52

Led by Timika Williams' 22-point, 12-rebound effort, the UTEP women's basketball team rolled to a convincing 67-52 triumph against a pesky Texas A&M-Corpus Christi squad at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 15. The Miners used a 14-0 run halfway thru the second-half to break open the contest. Joining Williams in double figures were Kasia Krezel (13 points, seven boards) and Claudia Porras (11 points, two caroms), while Natasha Lacy effectively ran the point with a game-high five assists. The Miners, who were without the services of sensational sophomore Jareica Hughes, were effective offensively, connecting on 49.1 percent of their chances.

UTEP Passes Test

While UTEP would certainly like to have Jareica Hughes on the court this year, it was a good sign to see the Miners win without her. UTEP, which was 0-2 last year in games when Hughes did not play in, held off a feisty Texas A&M-Corpus Christi team by playing team basketball and turning up the intensity defensively.

UTEP's History In Home Openers

By virtue of the Miners' triumph against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, they have now won five straight home openers. UTEP is 5-2 under head coach Keitha Adams and 22-12 all time when doing so.

Miners Push Team China To The Limit

The UTEP women's basketball team gave the 10th-rated team in the world quite a scare, with the Chinese Olympic team squeaking out 77-75 win at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 9. UTEP had a shot to win it, but Natasha Lacy's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.

Battling For Boards

The Miners did a much better job against the Chinese Olympic team on the boards than they did at Nebraska on Nov. 9. UTEP pulled down 19 rebounds on the offensive end alone, which turned into 22 second-chance points.

Miners Fall In Hard-Fought Game At Nebraska, 81-74

Jareica Hughes led all players with 27 points, nine assists and four steals, but it wasn't enough as the UTEP women's basketball team fell at Nebraska, 81-74, in the season opener for both teams on Nov. 9. The Miners overcame a 14-point deficit late in the first-half to take a 41-38 at the break, only to have the Huskers rally for the victory.

No Quit In This Group

UTEP showed plenty of heart in the setback at Nebraska, as it rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half thanks to a 9-0 spurt and an 8-0 run to take a three-point lead into the break. Additionally, the Miners turned a five-point deficit early in the second half into a seven-point edge, before the Huskers rallied for the triumph.

Offense Does Its Job

UTEP's offense looked to be in fine form in the campaign lidlifter at Nebraska. The Miners shared the ball effectively, evidenced by 15 assists, and connected on 47.1 percent of their chances from the floor. They did have some issues with turnovers (16), but the Huskers only scored 14 points off those giveaways.

Rebounding The Difference In The Game

While UTEP did plenty of things well at Nebraska, one area they came up short in was rebounding. The Huskers out-rebounded the Miners 45-29, which included 16 caroms at the offensive end. The effort allowed Nebraska to out-pace by seven in second-chance points, which was the differential in the final score (81-74).

Hughes Puts Her Name In The Record Books

Jareica Hughes' 27-point, nine-assist effort at Nebraska marked just the second time in program history that a player registered at least 25 points and nine assists in the same game. Sharon Jackson is the only other individual to achieve the feat, doing so on Dec. 21, 1983, against Wayland Baptist.

Scores Career High As Well

The 27-point outburst in the season opener at Nebraska established a career high for Jareica Hughes, topping her previous standard of 24 points against Houston on Jan. 7, 2007. It was the 23rd double-figure scoring game of her career.

Lacy Solid In Debut

Senior guard Natasha Lacy turned in a fine showing in her debut with the Miners. The transfer from TCU scored 18 points to go along with four rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes of action. She connected on 8-of-14 from the floor, including 1-of-3 from three-point land.

Three Miners Debut Overall

In addition to Natasha Lacy, Sviatlana Trukshanina and Brittnay Jones also made their debut with UTEP at Nebraska on Nov.9. Trukshanina chipped in three points and a steal in 22 minutes of reserve action while Jones played three first-half minutes.

Krezel Does A Little Bit Of Everything

Senior guard Kasia Krezel filled up the stat sheet in plenty of categories in the setback at Nebraska on Nov. 9. Krezel scored 12 points (on 5-of-10 shooting), in addition to six rebounds, three assists and three steals in 32 minutes played.

Porras Provides Instant Energy

Senior forward Claudia Porras came off the bench at Nebraska to provide quite a spark for the Orange and Blue, especially in the rebounding department. The native of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, racked up four rebounds, two blocks and two points in only 16 minutes of action.

Williams Does Too

Sophomore forward Timika Williams also played well at Nebraska. She registered a team-best four offensive rebounds (six overall boards), while scoring five points and blocking a pair of shots.

UTEP Knocks Off Houston Jaguars In Exhibition Contest

Natasha Lacy drained two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to lift the UTEP women's basketball team to a 72-70 victory against the Houston Jaguars in an exhibition contest on Nov. 3 at the Don Haskins Center. Lacy had gotten to the line after slicing thru traffic and drawing the foul as the clock wound down. After Lacy calmly converted the free throws, Kasia Krezel blocked a desperation three-pointer by the Jaguars' Brandi Jones to preserve the victory for UTEP.

Can We Have An Encore?

The 2006-07 women's basketball season was incredibly special for UTEP. The Miners established school records for wins (22), fewest losses (8) and single-game attendance on the way to taking a large step into turning the program into both a conference and regional power. This year's edition of the Orange and Blue has loftier goals, most notably playing into the postseason for the first time in program history.

Don't Expect This Group To Rattle

The 2007-08 edition of the UTEP women's basketball team is not one that will fold under pressure, as the Miners return four starters from last's squad in addition to a two seniors and a sophomore who will look to do work off the bench. Additionally, the Miners' recruiting class consisted of players who were winners at the high school level, junior college level and NCAA.

Much More Experienced

The Miners' starting lineup in its first game of the year against Nebraska certainly had a lot more experience than it did last year. Of the five players who started last year, three were making their first appearances at the Division I level. This year's initial opening five of Jareica Hughes, Kasia Krezel, Natasha Lacy, Tasha Marisett and Izabela Piekarska combined for 322 games played, including 218 starts heading into the game at Nebraska.

Challenging 2007-08 Slate On Tap For UTEP

The game at Nebraska marked the first of 12 games against teams which competed in some form of postseason play during the 2006-07 campaign.

National Spotlight Awaits The Miners

A demanding schedule is not the only thing that awaits the Miners in 2007-08, as they will make a pair of pair of appearances in nationally-televised games. UTEP will battle East Carolina on a Feb. 10 ESPN match-up at 12 p.m. and will challenge SMU on a Feb. 28 CSTV tilt at 6 p.m. Both contests will be held in the venerable Don Haskins Center.

Welcome Home, Natasha

El Paso native Natasha Lacy, who sat out last year after transferring from TCU, is eligible this year and is expected to make a big impact. The senior left TCU as one of the more decorated players in school history. She ranked among school leaders in scoring (11th, 945), rebounding (sixth, 579), assists (first, 456) and steals (second, 223). Moreover, she was the lone player in program history with more than 700 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists.

Hughes Tabbed Preseason First Team All-C-USA

2006-07 Conference USA freshman and newcomer of the year Jareica Hughes was selected to the All C-USA preseason team media day on Oct. 11. Hughes is coming off a fantastic freshman campaign for UTEP, in which she led the Orange and Blue in assists, free throws made and attempted, points and steals en route to being Moreover, Hughes was selected to the all-conference rookie and defensive squads, to go along with third-team honoree status.

More On The Sensational Sophomore

Jareica Hughes averaged 4.9 assists a year ago, which ranks as the second-best mark in program history. She also registered 2.8 thefts per game to check in sixth all time in program history. She scored finished with 78 steals, the most by a freshman in program annals, while racking up 137 assists and pouring in 362 points to check in second among freshmen in school history.

Don't Forget Timika

Timika Williams, who won a state championship in high school with Jareica Hughes, also had a fantastic first year in the Sun City. She paced the Miners in rebounds with 209, which is the second-highest total by a freshman and the 10th-best sum overall in program history. Williams also had 276 points (9.2 ppg) to rank fourth all time among freshmen.

Marisett's Motor Is Always Running

The most colorful player on the team this year is Tasha Marisett, whose high-energy output transfers to plenty of success on the court. The transfer from Panola Junior College had a solid campaign in her first year with the Miners, averaging 8.8 ppg to go along with 5.3 rebounds. She also had a team-high five double-doubles.

Plenty Of New Faces Too

6-2 post and junior college transfer Ilda Chambe, 5-6 guard Alyssa Faubion, 5-9 combo guard Brittnay Jones, 6-2 post Stephanie Rosado, 5-11 guard Sviatlana Trukshanina and 5-9 guard Joana Zalesiak join Natasha Lacy to afford head coach Keitha Adams plenty of newcomers who bring lots to the table. Chambe registered 14 double-doubles while competing at Seward Community College, in addition to 28 double-digit scoring efforts. Faubion had a prolific prep career, scoring more than 1,000 points and notching three all-conference accolades. Jones averaged 20 points, four rebounds and four assists per game and was a two-time all-state honoree while Rosado is a no-nonsense player capable of a double-double at any point. Trukshanina is a pure shooter who can connect from anywhere on the court while Zalesiak is an all-around threat and a strong defender.

Miners Picked Second In Preseason Poll

The UTEP women's basketball team has been predicted to finish in second place in Conference USA in the upcoming 2007-08 season according to a vote by the league's 12 head coaches, it was announced on Oct. 10 afternoon by the conference office. It marks the highest placement in a preseason poll for the Miners in program history.


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