ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Junior Tamara Seda posted her second straight double-double (career-high 19 points, career-high 16 rebounds) but homestanding New Mexico rode the play of Cheirsa Beynon (24 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and Richelle van der Keijl (18 points, 12 rebounds) to a 79-66 victory at The Pit Sunday afternoon.
It was a tale of two halves, with the Lobos (4-5) clicking on all cylinders over the first 20 minutes to build a 48-29 advantage heading into the locker room. UNM nailed 51.4 percent (18-35) from the floor, including 43.4 percent (7-16) on triples, in addition to forcing eight UTEP turnovers in the period.
The Miners did an excellent job of making adjustments at the break, and played a much better second half. UTEP outscored UNM, 37-31, during the final 20 minutes but the damage had been done. The Miners made just three turnovers in the second stanza to finish with a season-low 11 giveaways. It marked the third straight game that UTEP has recorded 12 or fewer turnovers.
The Orange and Blue also slowed down UNM’s high-octane offense in the second stanza. The Lobos were held to 31 points on 35.5 percent (11-31) shooting in the frame, including 3-15 (20.0 percent) from beyond-the-arc.
Overall UNM finished at 43.9 percent (29-66) from the field, including 10-29 (34.5 percent) from distance. UTEP connected on 37.7 percent (26-69), which included drilling a season-best seven three pointers. The Miners also battled on the boards, with UNM holding a slight edge (46-43) in the category.
“They hit some big shots (10-29 from three-point line), that was tough,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Then we had scoring droughts-some long stretches without being able to score. We struggled in our shooting. They just outplayed us. I thought we played a lot better in the second half than in the first half but we dug ourselves too big of a hole. We are going to have to find a way to put more points on the board.
“New Mexico has a good team. Their point guard she really sets the tempo for them. They had a really good balanced scoring attack (four players in double figures), and they scored both inside and out. T (Tamara Seda) had a good day (19 points, 16 boards). We didn’t shoot the ball very well. We’ve got to find a way to get three or four people in double figures. But we will have to turn the page to get ready to tip it off next week.”
Senior Sparkle Taylor (14 points, eight rebounds), freshman Zuzanna Puc (nine points, three rebounds), junior Lulu McKinney (eight points, four assists) and sophomore Najala Howell (eight points, three rebounds) supported Seda’s play. Making the play of Seda even more impressive is that it came against the rock-solid 6-5 post van der Keijl.
UNM had four players reaching double figures, with Mykiel Burleson (13 points) and Alex Lapeyrolerie (12 points) buoying van der Keijl and Beynon.
UNM raced out to an early 8-3 lead, capped by a triple from Burleson but the Miners struck back. The first of two treys from McKinney helped ignite a 7-2 surge to pull UTEP even at 10 with 4:19 to play in the first quarter. UNM tightened things up defensively while really getting into the open court to close the quarter on a 10-2 push.
The Miners started the second quarter strong with baskets on three consecutive possessions to help trim the deficit to four (22-18, 7:53 2Q). The home side regrouped with a 6-0 in the blink of the eye to grab its initial double-digit lead (28-18, 6:58 2Q) of the game.
A sweet pass by Faith Cook set up a lay-up for Puc to halt the sequence and get the Miners within eight (28-20, 6:39 2Q). Unfortunately for the Orange and Blue, UNM again found another gear. The Lobos doubled UTEP, 18-9, over the final 6:25 of the frame to secure a commanding 19-point cushion (48-29) heading to the locker room.
The Miners battled and refuse to let UNM run away with the contest in the second half, but couldn’t quite string together enough scoring sequences to truly get back into things.
UTEP continues “Rivalry Week” by playing host to NM State in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 at 7:05 p.m. MST Thursday. Fans should arrive early for the unveiling of the 2016 Conference USA Regular-Season Championship banner and WNIT participant (advanced to quarterfinals) banner.
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