ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands- LSU knocked off UTEP, 78-45, in the opening game for both squads of the 2016 Paradise Jam at the University of Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center Thursday afternoon.
Freshman Roeshonda Patterson came off the bench to score a career-high 11 points to lead the way for the Miners (1-3), who played hard but couldn’t keep pace with the SEC’s Lady Tigers (4-1).
LSU connected on 53.4 percent (31-58) from the floor, piling up 21 assists on its 31 field goals made. Shanice Norton (14 points), Chloe Jackson (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Raigyne Moncrief (10 points) keyed the efforts for the Lady Tigers.
The athleticism and press by LSU gave the Miners fits. UTEP was held to 28.6 percent (16-56) shooting while being harassed into 27 turnovers. Patterson was the lone Miner in double figures, with Lulu McKinney (seven points), Zuzanna Puc (five points) and Katarina Zec (five points) supporting the freshman.
Rebounding was even (34-34), UTEP forced 17 turnovers that led to 17 points and points in the paint were close (24-22, LSU) but the Lady Tigers enjoyed advantages elsewhere.
“We turned it over way too much, we had 27 turnovers and they scored 31 points off that,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We didn’t take care of the ball and had a poor shooting night. We just didn’t play very well.”
UTEP and LSU traded baskets early, and the game was tied (6-6) with 5:05 to play in the first quarter after Najala Howell came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for the score. The Lady Tigers had an answer, though, in the form of a 13-0 to secure a 19-6 advantage with 1:04 left in the frame. Zec brought an end to the surge by grabbing a rebound, bolting up the court and finishing at the rim with a reverse lay-up.
Unfortunately LSU responded by wrapping a 10-0 run around the quarter change to make it 29-8 with 8:21 left in the second quarter. McKinney stopped that sequence by using a little stutter-step crossover to get into the defense. She took a hit but still floated it up and in for the old-fashioned three-point play. The Miners continued to battle as the half progressed but couldn’t get closer than 16 and LSU carried a 20-point advantage (41-21) into the locker room.
Aspirations of a Miner comeback took a big blow with LSU opening up the second half on a 10-0 run to lead 51-21 with 3:48 left in the third quarter. Patterson got the Orange and Blue going by coming up with a steal. She made the outlet pass to fellow classmate Faith Cook. Cook got into the defense before kicking it back to Patterson for the long three pointer. LSU finished off the third quarter with six straight points to lead by 33 (59-26).
The Miners, who deployed five freshmen on the court for good portions of the second half, continued to play hard down the stretch but couldn’t get closer than 30 down the stretch. The best frame of the game for UTEP was the final one, with both teams tallying 19 points in the fourth quarter.
The Miners will continue play at the Paradise Jam by locking up with ACC power N.C. State at 1:15 p.m. MST/4:15 p.m. AST Friday at the University of Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.