COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: UTPB basketball teams ready for conference play

Both UTPB men’s and women’s basketball teams will begin Lone Star Conference this week on the road when the teams travel to Laredo and Kingsville.

For the UTPB women, this season has been a solid start at 4-1 and are coming off an easy 108-81 win over Sul Ross State last week at home.

But head coach Rae Boothe and her players know that things are going to get tough as they play in one of the most difficult conferences in NCAA Division II women’s basketball.

They’ll get their first challenge at 6 p.m. Thursday at Texas A&M International (7-0).

Then, the Falcons turn around to face Texas A&M-Kingsville (4-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday to complete this week’s road trip.

“I think we’re happy with where we are, but we know that conference play is a different level,” Boothe said. “Thursday will be a test for us. We’re working every day to get better and give ourselves the best opportunity to be ready for Thursday’s conference opener.”

UTPB’s only loss of the season so far has come against Colorado Mesa in a 70-54 contest back on Nov. 11 in Grand Junction, Colo.

Since then, the Falcons have rolled off wins over King (Tenn.), Southwestern Oklahoma State and Sul Ross State.

UTPB’s other win of the season came in the opener against South Dakota Mines.

Boothe is well aware of how dangerous Texas A&M International is as the Dustdevils are coming off their best start in program history.

Texas A&M-Kingsville also brings a challenge.

“We’re going up against two really good teams off the bat,” Boothe said. “There’s not an easy game as we know it in this league. Those two teams are really tall tasks. International is undefeated. They’re having the best start in program history. They’re fired up. We’ve worked really hard in the last week to get ourselves a great opportunity. I think they have great weapons, but so do we. It comes down to who can execute the best and play their style of basketball. International is a very up-tempo team. They really want to cause chaos. As long as we are poised and play good basketball, we should be good to come out on top.”

Texas A&M-Kingsville may have started the season off with three straight losses, but since then, the Javelinas have been on a winning streak, defeating Western Colorado, Adams State, Oklahoma Baptist and Missouri Western State.

Texas A&M-Kingsville will begin conference play against Angelo State on Thursday.

While the Falcons haven’t played since Nov. 21, Boothe said the team has had a much-needed break to prepare for conference play.

“I think it was a needed break for sure,” Boothe said. “It gave us time to prepare. We needed the extra days. I’m glad we had over a week to prepare for TAMI because we needed that extra time to prepare and we also needed that time to transition to Lone Star Conference play.

>> MEN’S BASKETBALL: The UTPB men’s basketball team has been on a winning streak since the season-opening loss to Adams State.

The Falcons (4-1) will begin conference play against Texas A&M International (4-2) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Laredo.

UTPB will then face Texas A&M-Kingsville (2-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Kingsville.

The Falcons have won four straight, defeating Westminster (Utah) on Nov. 11, Sul Ross State on Nov. 17, Northern New Mexico last Friday and Southeastern Oklahoma State this past Saturday at home.