Women’s Basketball Preview: Owls Travel to Texas to Visit UTSA and First Place UTEP

FAU broke a four-game losing streak against UTSA


FAU junior guard Nika Zyryanova (33) scored a career-high 20 points in the Owls win over Indiana State. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Chris Libreros, Contributing Writer

The Florida Atlantic Women’s basketball team is headed on a Texas road trip this week to take on the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners and the University of Texas at El Paso Miners.

FAU (11-11, 3-8 C-USA) is currently in its second four-game losing streak of the season and is looking to bounce back from an at home 67-62 loss to the University of Alabama at Birmingham last Saturday.
Here’s a look at what to keep your eye on for this week’s matchups:

UTSA Roadrunners

UTSA (7-14, 3-8 C-USA) is coming off the heels of a disappointing road trip where the Roadrunners lost back-to-back close games against both Western Kentucky University and Marshall University on the road.

Thursday’s player to watch will be UTSA senior forward Akunna Elonu.

Elonu is coming off a strong performance — albeit in a losing effort — against the Marshall Thundering Herd where she scored 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while simultaneously leading the team in rebounds as she has for Marshall throughout the season. In her last matchup against FAU, Elonu pulled down 19 rebounds, an area the Owls have struggled with all year.

The X-factor in this matchup will be the Owls’ defense.

In their last meeting, defense played a key role as FAU won 64-51.The Roadrunners were held to 27.9 percent shooting from the field with only three players scoring more than three points.

UTEP Miners

The UTEP Miners (19-2,10-1 C-USA) are headed back home from last week’s road trip in which they lost their first game of the new calendar year — a matchup against Marshall ending in a 64-79 loss last Thursday. Nevertheless, UTEP is still currently sporting the best record in the conference.

UTEP has gotten back on the right track offensively since winning at Western Kentucky after having two lackluster shooting performances against Marshall and Louisiana Tech University. However, all three opponents had success against UTEP’s defense, with each team shooting a combined 51 percent from the field.

Offense will be key in Saturday’s matchup against the Miners. If the Owls can keep their turnovers to a minimum while consistently scoring, they can put themselves in prime position to upset the top team in Conference USA.


The Owls will be served a familiar face on Thursday when they take on the UTSA Roadrunners, the only team they beat in their last nine games. Keep an eye out for FAU senior guard Ali Gorrell to continue her strong play.

With that said, I believe this UTSA team will be better prepared and come out even more aggressive this time around. In the end, the Owls will get some hard work done on the glass and capture their first road conference win of the season: FAU 58, UTSA 52.

In the second matchup, FAU is going to need to dig deep against the best team in Conference USA and embrace the track meet that will ensue. In their first matchup last month, the Owls were competitive and in position for three quarters before a run by the Miners shut the door on the potential upset.

This game will have a slightly different fourth quarter with both teams playing competitively down the stretch in a high scoring contest: UTEP 92, FAU 88.

Christopher Libreros is a contributing writer for the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.