HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Cameasha Turner poured in 20 points and Starr Breedlove added 12 points to go along with five steals to help the UTEP women’s basketball team emerge with a 57-54 victory at Southern Miss Thursday evening.
It is the first home setback of the season (11-1) for the Lady Eagles (12-12, 5-8 C-USA), with the Miners (22-2, 13-1 C-USA) improving to 7-2 on the road, including 6-1 in league action. The seven road wins tie for third on the Miner single-campaign charts while the 22 overall triumphs tie for fourth at the school.
UTEP has now halted three lengthy home undefeated streaks this season, previously stopping NM State’s 17-game home surge (W, 71-65, 12/2/15) and WKU’s 15-contest home streak (W, 85-78, 2/6/16).
More importantly, the Miners remain atop the C-USA standings at 13-1 within league play but WKU (11-2) and Middle Tennessee (11-2) are just one game back in the loss column.
“We turned the ball over too much today and there’s a lot of things that we could have done better but we weathered the storm and played hard,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adamssaid. “Southern Miss hadn’t lost on its home court this year. We played a team that fought tooth and nail and had a lot of pride. They weren’t going to go down easy. We are pleased that we fought and got this win and got it done tonight.”
The Orange and Blue pounced on Southern Miss early, bolting out to an 18-7 lead after one quarter. The margin was 10 (29-19) at the half before swelling to as many as 18 (41-23) with 3:33 remaining in the third quarter. The advantage remained double digits (53-43) with 3:32 to play in the game before the Lady Eagles finally made a run to make things interesting.
USM ripped off nine straight points to trim the Miner lead to one (53-52) with 1:04 to play in the game. Breedlove and Turner each split free throws to push the margin back out to three with 22 ticks left on the clock. Rather than let USM get a clean look at a three, UTEP elected to foul.
USM’s Tajanay Veiga made both free throws to get her squad within one (55-54) with six seconds left. The Lady Eagles then fouled Lulu McKinney, who went to the line with four seconds to play. The sophomore had ice water in her veins, calmly sinking both. Breedlove then sealed the home side’s fate with a steal on the ensuing inbounds.
Both the Miners (21-59, 35.6 percent and 21 turnovers) and Lady Eagles (18-50, 36.0 percent and 25 turnovers) ran into issues offensively. Rebounding (43-37) went in favor of UTEP, which helped it survive an off shooting night (10-22, 45.5 percent) at the charity stripe.
Brittany Dinkins registered 17 points to lead the way for Southern Miss, with Brittny Norris (13 points) and Veiga (13 points) also hitting double figures in scoring. USM’s 25 giveaways led to 25 Miners points. UTEP also enjoyed advantages on points in the paint (28-20) and second-chance points (14-8).
The Miners will wrap up the road swing by playing at Louisiana Tech at 5 p.m. MT/6 p.m. CT Saturday. Brandon Cohn will have the call for ESPN El Paso, 600 KROD-AM Radio. Fans may also follow @UTEPWBB on Twitter for updates.