Sophomore Lulu McKinney poured in a career-high 22 points on her birthday to help keep the UTEP women’s basketball team undefeated on the year following a 70-62 win against I-25 rival New Mexico at the Don Haskins Center Wednesday afternoon.
The Miners (6-0) led wire-to-wire, with a game-opening 14-2 run putting the Lobos (4-3) in too big of a hole to fully recover. UNM, which returned four starters and 11 letter winners from last year’s squad that forged a 21-13 record, battled back but it simply had no answer for UTEP’s torrid outside shooting.
The Orange and Blue drained 12-of-24 from three-point range (tied for sixth most 3PM all time at UTEP), with McKinney connecting on a ridiculous 6-of-8 (tied fourth all time at UTEP) from beyond-the-arc. Seniors Cameasha Turner (16 points) and Starr Breedlove (11 points) joined McKinney in double figures.
Junior Tamara Seda came off the bench to score seven points and grab four rebounds, with her biggest contribution coming late in the third quarter. The Lobos had whittled UTEP’s once 14-point advantage down to three (39-36, 2:49 3Q) before Seda’s old-fashioned three-point play helped reinstate order. UNM never got closer within one possession the rest of the way, with the Miners’ effort at the free-throw line (12-of-16, 75.0 percent) helping ice the contest.
“We played hard, they made a run at us but we kept grinding it out,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We made some plays and played hard. This was a good win for us.”
UNM’s Khadijah Shumpert overcame foul issues to post a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) while Cherise Beynon pitched in 13 points and Bryce Owens added eight.
Both teams connected on 41.8 percent (23-of-55) from the floor, but the Miner limited the Lobos to 5-0f-19 from three-point land. The Orange and Blue bench outscored UNM, 31-18. UTEP also took great care of the ball against a stingy Lobo defense, committing only seven turnovers (tied sixth fewest all time at UTEP).
Unselfish play was also a factor, with the Miners ringing up 17 assists on 23 made fields. Breedlove was credited with six helpers while Jenzel Nash dished out four. SophomoreDaeshianna McCants quietly filled up the stat sheet, recorded five points, six boards, three blocks (tied career high) and three assists (career high) in 33 minutes (career high).
UTEP led 3-2 with 8:58 to play in the first quarter before peeling off 11 straight points to make it 14-2 at 4:28 of the opening frame. UNM regrouped, trimming the deficit down to six (16-10) after 10 minutes of action. McKinney took over in the second quarter, though, bombing away with four triples alone in the period to help the Miners grab a commanding 12-point lead (34-22) heading into halftime.
The Lobos came out with a purpose in the third quarter, using a 14-5 run over the first seven minutes to claw back within three. Seda made sure it got no closer with the aforementioned and-one. Almost as important on the play was the fact that Shumpert picked up her fourth foul of the game on the sequence, which hindered her ability to play aggressively the rest of the way.
UTEP will play its first road contest of the season when it ventures up I-10 to lock up with New Mexico State at 2 p.m. MST inside the Pan-American Center Saturday. Tim Hagerty and Traci Miller will have the call of the game on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD AM Radio.
Author: UTEP Athletics