HUNTINGTON, W. Va. – Ariona Gill (21 points, eight boards) had another big day, but UTEP was tripped up at Marshall, 76-66, Saturday afternoon.
The Miners (13-11, 6-7 C-USA) shot 39.3 percent from the floor, won the boards (35-27) and took decent care of the ball (15 turnovers) only to have the Thundering Herd (11-13, 6-7 C-USA) overcome that with hot shooting.
MU nailed 55.1 percent from the floor, including 11-24 (45.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Thundering Herd had entered the contest last in C-USA in field-goal percentage (.362), but managed to get going on all aspects Saturday.
It spoiled the effort by Gill, who hit double figures in scoring for the sixth straight contest. She was buoyed by the all-around effort of Katia Gallegos (12 points, five rebounds, five assists). Katarina Zec (12 points, five boards) also got after it, while Avery Crouse pitched in seven points and four helpers.
“It was a really frustrating day,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “It was a very winnable game for us, but we just didn’t come out of the gates well. We missed nine lay-ups in the first quarter, and on the road that’s just too hard to overcome.”
MU plated four in double figures, with Kristen Mayo (17 points) leading the way for the home side. UTEP had an 18-4 margin in second-chance points, in addition to advantages in points in the paint (30-26) and points off turnovers (17-12), but it wasn’t enough to offset the Thundering Herd.
Marshall opened up the contest on a 7-2 run over the first four minutes, but UTEP showed some grit by countering with a 7-0 surge to take its first lead of the game. Gallegos had five of the seven points in the sequence. MU responded with eight in a row to close the quarter, putting UTEP down by six (15-9) through 10 minutes of action.
The Miners unleashed another 7-0 run at the onset of the second quarter to go back ahead at 16-15 with 7:32 left in the half. A little 10-4 push by MU allowed it to regain the lead, with UTEP settling for a manageable 3-point deficit (31-28) heading into the locker room.
It was back-and-forth over the first couple of minutes of the third quarter before an 18-7 surge by Marshall put UTEP down by 13 (52-39) with 52 seconds remaining in the frame. Michelle Pruitt did wonders to come up with a loose ball from a missed shot to bank home a lay-up, bringing the Miners within 11 (52-41) heading to the fourth quarter.
UTEP continued to play hard the rest of the way, but it couldn’t get closer than nine down the stretch.
The Miners will conclude a stretch of three straight road contests when they play at UTSA at 6 p.m. MT/7 p.m. CT on Thursday.
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