NORFOLK, Va. – Jordan Alexander tallied a team-high 15 points and short-handed UTEP battled before running out of steam in a 78-59 loss at Old Dominion on Thursday.
“We continue to fight but just cannot catch a break. We’re not going to make excuses because we had plenty of opportunities,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “I’m really proud of our team. We had some kids go down (with injuries) and we could have pouted and could have laid down but instead they kind of fought back.”
The Miners (4-15, 1-5 C-USA) fell behind by 12 (13-1) seven minutes into the contest before digging in to try to fight back. UTEP twice got the margin to four and trailed by only eight (56-48) through three quarters before fatigue became a factor.
The Lady Monarchs (14-5, 5-2 C-USA) outscored the visitors, 22-11, in the final frame to pull away for their fifth straight win. The Orange and Blue finished the contest with six healthy players, as both Jordan Jenkins and Alexa Hoy sustained injuries during the game.
UTEP shot 34.7 percent (17-49) from the floor, including making six triples, while also enjoying a big day at the charity stripe (19-27, 70 percent). The Miners also won the boards (38-35, ODU). The homestanding Lady Monarchs made up for it by shooting a bit better (29-64, 45.3 percent) and taking great care of the ball (seven turnovers).
Katarina Zec tallied 11 points, including nailing two triples, to join Alexander in double figures. Ariana Taylor, Zuzanna Puc and Jade Rochelle all finished with seven points while Hoy pitched in six before leaving with the aforementioned injury,
Homestanding ODU started well, vaulting out to a 13-1 lead seven minutes into the contest. Taylor banked home a shot in traffic for UTEP’s first field goal of the contest, halting the surge in the process. It was back-and-forth the rest of the period, with the Miners trailing by 10 (19-9) through 10 minutes of action.
The margin was 13 (27-14) with six minutes left in the half before UTEP started to make a move. It peeled off nine straight points over the next three minutes to cut the deficit all the way down to four (27-23) with 3:17 to play in the period. It remained a four-point tilt (29-25) inside of three minutes of the half before a mini 5-0 run from the home side. UTEP used three straight free throws to climb within six (34-28) but the Lady Monarchs scored the final four points of the frame to make it a double-digit difference (38-28) at the half.
Old Dominion gradually extended the lead to as 15 (52-37) in halfway through the third quarter, but UTEP refused to fold up shop. The Orange and Blue fought back cutting the lead in half by virtue of an 11-3 surge over the next four minutes before settling for the eight-point deficit (56-48) heading to the fourth quarter.
It was back-and-forth over the first five minutes of the period, with the margin still in single digits (64-55) before the ODU was able to create some separation down the stretch.
UTEP will conclude its two-game swing to the Eastern Time Zone when it plays at Charlotte at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET on Saturday. The contest will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Brandon Cohn on the call.