Cameasha Turner (18 points), Sparkle Taylor (15 points) and Jenzel Nash (13 points) all hit double figures in scoring and UTEP forced 25 turnovers to extend its winning streak to six after downing UTSA, 62-55, at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon.
The Miners (14-1, 5-0 C-USA) led the upset-minded Roadrunners (5-10, 1-4 C-USA) for 33:46 of action on the way to staying perfect at home (10-0) and in league play (5-0). The 14-1 record matches the best start in program history, with the 2012-13 and 2006-07 squads also achieving the feat.
It was a defensive battle, with both the Miners (24-68, 35.3 percent) and Roadrunners (23-61, 37.7 percent) having to work extremely hard to get any clean looks on offense. The difference came down to ball security, with the 25 Roadrunner giveaways leading to 24 Miner points. UTEP made only 16 turnovers that resulted in 13 points for the visitors.
“Credit UTSA. They play hard, they compete and they make games like that,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We did a pretty good job defensively. We didn’t play our best but we got the win. It was a tough one, a competitive one.”
Taylor flirted with a double-double (15 points, seven rebounds) while Nash, Turner and Tamara Seda each grabbed six boards for the Orange and Blue. Niaga Mitchell-Cole scored 11 points to pace UTSA while Akunna Elonu added 10 points. The visitors enjoyed a slight edge in rebounding (45-43), but UTEP compensated for that with its pressure defense.
They ripped off nine straight points in about three minutes to push the advantage out to 10 (30-20) with 1:02 to play in the frame. UTSA countered with five straight points but a late Taylor bucket gave the Orange and Blue a touchdown lead (32-25) at the break.
After UTSA scored on its opening possession of the third quarter, UTEP clamped down once again. The home side peeled off eight straight points over the next five minutes to secure its largest advantage (40-27, 4:41) of the contest.
The Roadrunners refused to quit, though, eventually trimming the deficit all the way down to four (52-48) with 4:52 to play in the game. The visitors could get no closer, though, with the Miners getting timely buckets from Taylor and stops down the stretch.
UTEP will open up a stretch of four of six on the road by venturing to the Eastern Time Zone to lock up with Florida Atlantic (5 p.m. MST, Jan. 21) and FIU (2 p.m. MST, Jan. 23).
Author: UTEP Athletics