Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
UTEP women’s basketball (5-5, 2-3 C-USA) fell to Conference USA foe North Texas (8-2, 5-0 C-USA) by a score of 67-59 on Friday night in front of 286 fans at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso.
The Miners shot 41 percent from the field, but UTEP’s woes from the behind the three-point line continued on Friday night, with the Miners connecting on just 2-of-13 (15.4 pct.).
“You just have to tip your hat to North Texas on a couple shots because I really thought we defended them well the whole game,” head coach Kevin Baker said. “We made people shoot the ball who don’t normally shoot it. We tried to take (Quincy) Noble away the best that we could. They hit some big shots that they don’t characteristically hit in situations. When it mattered down the stretch when the game was really tight, we turned the ball over three or four times in a row and that really hurt our chances because it sort of deflates our energy defensively when we do that.”
UTEP won the battle in the paint with 40 points and got 29 points off the bench, but North Texas held on to the lead for more than 30 minutes, despite the Miners forcing 19 lead changes throughout the game.
The Miners went into half with a 34-30 deficit and started off the third quarter cold, which allowed North Texas to cling to a five-point lead after three quarters of play.
In the fourth, UTEP shot nearly 43 percent, but it was combatted by an efficient shooting effort by the Mean, who hung on for the eight-point victory over the Miners.
“I think with the way that we’re playing right now that we can win a lot of games and be competitive in any game just because we’re defending pretty well and rebounding pretty well,” Baker said. “The only thing we didn’t do tonight is we didn’t make open shots and we turned the ball over too much. Those are two correctable things and I think we’ll shoot the ball better tomorrow, for sure, and I think we’ll take care of the ball better. We don’t have a whole lot to fix, but we have to be better in those two areas.”
UTEP was led by sophomore guard Katia Gallegos, who tallied 13 points, seven assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals. Michelle Pruitt added nine points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Avery Crouse and Isis Lopes each totaled seven points apiece for the Miners.
North Texas had two players notch 17 points each in Quincy Noble and N’Yah Boyd. Boyd also added a team-high eight rebounds and four assists. As a team, the Mean Green shot 41.7 percent in the game, including 31.3 percent (5-16) from three.
Next up, UTEP will turn around and host North Texas in the final game of the two-game set on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. Saturday’s contest is slated for 4 p.m. MT on CUSA.TV. A free audio stream will also be available on the UTEP Miners app.
For complete coverage of UTEP women’s basketball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPWBB (Twitter), @utepwbb (Instagram) and on Facebook or click here to visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post