UTEP controlled the boards (49-29) and forced 27 turnovers to help propel it to a 70-52 victory against visiting FIU on “National Girls and Women in Sports Day” at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
The effort keeps the Miners (20-2, 11-1 C-USA) atop the Conference USA leaderboard and undefeated at home (13-0, second-longest win home win streak in school history) while the Panthers slip to 3-20, 1-11 C-USA, respectively. Additionally for the third time in the past four years and sixth occasion overall in program history (all under head coach Keitha Adams), UTEP has reached the 20-win plateau.
“This is a good win,” Adams said. “I feel really good about tonight that we dominated the glass and had some good steals that got us in the transition game. We need that. We played our entire team and managed our minutes. We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight but getting offensive rebounds and extra possessions helped us.”
All 14 players who dressed saw action for the Orange and Blue, who never trailed in the contest. Jenzel Nash (13 points), Cameasha Turner (11 points) and Lawna Kennedy (11 points) all reached double figures in scoring to lead the way but there were plenty of other scoring options.
Nine other Miners tallied at least one point in the game. It was a similar story with the effort on the glass, with every player securing at least one board. Chrishauna Parker pulled down a team-high nine offensive rebounds, including seven of UTEP’s season-high 24 offensive caroms. Daeshianna McCants and Nash buoyed Parker with six boards.
Starr Breedlove and Nash shared the team lead for assists (four). Nash also created havoc on defense with five steals.
FIU was paced by 13 points from Taylor Shade while Janka Hegedus (11 points) and Destini Feagin (10 points) also reached double figures in scoring. The Panthers shot 40.4 percent (19-47) from the floor, compared to UTEP’s 36.9 percent (24-65) but the Orange and Blue compensated thanks to the dominance on the glass and the turnovers forced.
The Miners enjoyed advantages for points in the paint (36-16), points off turnovers (27-16), second-chance points (14-2), fast-break points (16-6) and bench scoring (24-7).
UTEP jumped out to an 11-4 advantage six minutes into the game but the feisty FIU squad did well to battle back to get within four (15-11) at the end of the quarter. The Miners found another gear in the second frame, outscoring the visitors, 20-8, to secure a commanding 35-19 advantage heading into halftime.
UTEP put things on cruise control in the second half, with Adams skillfully spreading the wealth with playing time. The advantage swelled to as many as 23 (68-45) with 2:37 to play in the tilt, before FIU scored seven of the final nine points down the stretch.
The Miners will have a quick turnaround, with high-flying Florida Atlantic invading El Paso for a 2:05 p.m. matinee tip Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, but there is a buy-one, get-one free special in place.
Author: UTEP Athletics