Destiny Thurman – Photo by Jamal Cooley/UTSA Athletics
SAN ANTONIO – UTEP built up a 13-point halftime lead and never looked back on the way to a 69-52 win over UTSA on Thursday night in the Convocation Center.
The Miners (11-5, 3-3 Conference USA) took full advantage of a strong shooting effort from the 3-point line, hitting five consecutive triples from the 1:42 mark of the first quarter to the 5:36 mark of the second quarter. The run extended what was a 14-12 lead all the way up to a 32-18 advantage after a trifecta from Eliana Cabral to cap the stretch.
In the middle of the hot shooting, UTEP started the second quarter on a 9-2 run over the first four minutes, putting the Roadrunners (4-13, 1-5 Conference USA) in a hole that they would not be able to dig out of as the Miners would not trail over the final 31:53 of game action.
Over the course of that early second quarter run, Cabral was key, scoring five straight as part of a night in which she would score eight points.
UTEP shot a season-high 47.8 percent from beyond the arc, connecting on 9-of-19 attempts.
“I just really enjoyed watching our team play today,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “I felt like we really got back to who we are. We shot the ball better, played better defense and I just really liked the way we played. Win, lose or draw, I just enjoyed seeing our team sort of be the character that it has been all year. We kind of got away from that the last couple of games, but I felt good about us tonight and us moving forward.”
After eight early lead changes, the Miners took control with another solid defensive performance, holding UTSA to a 19-of-50 (38 percent) shooting night.
In the fourth quarter, baskets by Elina Arike and Dagne Apsite extended the lead out to as large as 25 at two different points.
Destiny Thurman led the scoring for UTEP with 12 first-half points including a pair of 3-pointers and two steals.
Thurman was joined in double figures by Mahri Petree and Avery Crouse, who each finished with 10 points. Petree was also the leading rebounder with eight boards.
In addition to the success beyond the 3-point line, the Miners got to the free throw line 21 times, converting 16 of the opportunities. The Roadrunners also went to the line 21 times, missing 11 at the stripe.
By defeating UTSA, UTEP has now won seven straight in the head-to-head series.
In a unique scheduling twist, the two teams will play again on Sunday to cap off the week.
“It’s something that none of us are really used to, but that’s part of playing your travel partner,” Baker said. “They’ll make adjustments, we’ll make adjustments and we’ll see how it goes.”
UTEP returns home to the Don Haskins Center for the second of the two meetings this week against UTSA on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Miners and Roadrunners can be heard on the UTEP Miners app with Mando Medina calling the action. The contest will also be streamed on C-USA TV.