Women’s Basketball: Owls snap eight-game losing streak with a 54-52 upset victory over UTEP

Rita Pleskevich finished the game with a career-high 21 points.


Eston Parker III

Photo of Allie Tylka (left), Bre Beck (second from left), Nikola Ozola (center), Jessica Jackson (second from right), and Jennifer Sullivan (right).

Cameron Priester, Staff Writer

FAU women’s basketball (5-13, 1-6 C-USA) beat the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Miners (12-6, 4-4 C-USA) 54-52 in a last-second thriller Thursday night in the Burrow at Abessinio Court. 

The upset win snaps an eight-game losing streak for the Owls and marks their first conference win of the year over a UTEP team that was heavily favored coming into the matchup. 

“I just kept telling the girls to believe,” said head coach Jennifer Sullivan. “For them to find a way to pull this win out, I’m so happy for them, really proud.”

The game started miserably on the offensive side of the ball for the Owls as they shot only 33.3% from the field and 16.7% from three-point range in the first quarter.  However, FAU got to the free-throw line five times in the opening seven minutes to take an 18-15 lead at the end of the quarter. 

In the second quarter, the Owls’ struggles on offense only got worse, shooting only 23.3% from the field and 28.6% from three-point range, allowing UTEP to take the lead. Despite the team’s struggles, senior guard Rita Pleskevich came alive with an 11-point performance to cut the Miners’ lead to 28-26 at halftime.

“We wanted her to take more shots, her field goal percentage is one of the best on our team,” said Sullivan. “We wanted Rita more aggressive throughout the game and I think she did a great job on that tonight.”

UTEP kept the game in its control into the third quarter taking a seven-point lead, their largest of the game, with 6:39 to play in the third quarter. 

The game remained in the Miners’ favor until senior forward Sofia Galeron made a three-point shot to give the Owls a 43-40 lead with 7:13 to play in the fourth quarter. 

The score remained tied at 52 apiece until junior guard Alexa Zaph made a heavily contested layup to give the Owls a 54-52 lead with 13 seconds left. The Miners could not make anything of the ensuing possession, leaving the score at 54-52 at the end of regulation.

Pleskevich finished the night as the Owls’ leading scorer with a career-high 21 points, four rebounds, and an assist.

“I’m just proud of the way they show up everyday, which is not easy to do when you lose that many games in a row. I’m proud and glad they got the win today,” said Sullivan.

The Owls now prepare for another home conference matchup against the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners on Saturday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. in the Burrow at Abessinio Court. It will be broadcast on C-USA TV.

Cameron Priester is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron.