MIAMI, Fla. – Fueled by a huge first quarter, the UTEP women’s basketball team won for the second time in three days and eighth straight overall after a grind-out 69-57 victory in front of 316 fans at FIU Saturday afternoon.
The effort allows the Miners to continue the best overall start in program history at 16-1. UTEP also moves to 7-0 in C-USA play, including a flawless 4-0 on the road.
The Panthers (2-16, 0-7 C-USA) led for a total of 28 seconds after a triple by Destini Feagin on their opening possession of the game before the Miners (16-1, 7-0 C-USA) ripped off 22 straight points to grab control of the contest.
The advantage was 17 (24-7) through 10 minutes of action, and homestanding FIU could never get itself back in the contest.
That is not to say the squad did not show some fight; it used an 11-0 run of its own to whittle the Miner lead down to 24-16 with 6:24 to play in period but UTEP weathered the storm with tremendous poise. It struck back with eight straight points to reinstate order, and FIU was unable to get within nine the rest of the way.
UTEP showed tremendous resolve, with two emotional leaders (Chrishauna Parker and Cameasha Turner) missing the contest but Starr Breedlove (20 points), Lulu McKinney (17 points), Jenzel Nash (12 points) and Sparkle Taylor (12 points) provided plenty of firepower on offense. McKinney also helped keep FIU leading scoring Taylor Shade in check, limiting her to eight points (seven below her average).
Nash (eight boards), sophomore Daeshianna McCants (seven rebounds) and Tamara Seda (career-high eight boards) got after it on the glass to help the Miners win the rebounding battle, 46-40.UTEP forced 19 turnovers, which led to 26 points, while also holding an 18-8 edge for bench scoring.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “It was a great team win. We’ve faced some adversity in the last 24 hours and we overcame it. We battled. This turnaround game on the second day is a difficult game. You have very little time to prepare. FIU has been playing everybody tough, and their record is way deceiving to their talent level. They have a new coach who is doing a great job. They don’t have very many bodies, but the players they’ve got are talented.”
The Miners shot 41.3 percent (26-63) from the floor, aided by 50 percent (10-20) in the dominant first quarter. UTEP also got it going from three-point land, draining 8-25 triples after hitting a combined seven triples from the prior three tilts.
FIU had no such luck, finishing at 30.2 percent (19-63) from the floor, including 4-21 from three-point range. It was held to 12.5 percent (2-16) in the first quarter and 17.6 percent (3-17) in the fourth frame, with the Miners flexing their defensive muscle.
UTEP will get back to action when it returns home for the annual “Pack The House” game against Southern Miss at 7:05 p.m. MT Thursday. There is free admission as part of the promotion.