The UTEP women’s basketball team used a huge second half to cruise past Hampton, 78-54, at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon. The Miners (3-0) outscored the Lady Pirates (0-4) 52-30 over the final 20 minutes of the contest with Jenzel Nash and Starr Breedlove leading the charge.
Nash scored 21 of her game-high 23 points (two short of career high) after the break while Breedlove followed suit by tallying 20 of her personal-best 22 points during the second stanza. Chrishauna Parker overcame early foul issues to add eight points, six of which were in the second half. Daeshianna McCants Lulu McKinney and Cameasha Turner each pitched in five points.
Overall the Miners finished at 48.2 percent (27-of-56) from the floor in the contest, aided significantly by a sizzling 64.1 percent (18-of-28) during the sensational second half.
The defense was tremendous throughout the tilt, keeping Hampton to a readout of 31.1 percent (19-of-61). Prolific scorer Malia Tate-DeFreitas scored 18 points, but thanks to the hounding defense of Turner, she needed 17 shots to do so. UTEP’s 2-2-1 press gave Hampton fits, which committed 22 turnovers that led to 25 Miner points.
“Our defense created our offense in the second half,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Every team has to find an identity with what you’re going to hang your hat on. With us it’s going to be our defense. We need to be really good defensively, and we need to do some things to create on offense.”
The Miners also won the rebounding battle (43-35), thanks to an all-around effort. Nash led the charge with eight boards (one short of her personal best) while Parker and McCants grabbed six apiece. Turner and freshman Najala Howell each registered four rebounds while freshman Wiktoria Zapart added three. Zapart also was influential in the paint with a pair of blocks to share for the team lead with McCants and Turner.
Aggressive drives led to plenty of chances at the charity stripe for the Miners, who took care of business. UTEP nailed 76.0 percent (19-of-25) of its tosses. The same cannot be said for the visitors, who managed to knock down only 57.1 percent (12-of-21).
There was not much rhythm to game in the first half, with an abundance of fouls and turnovers from both sides slowing the pace of play significantly. The two sides combined for 23 turnovers and 23 fouls in the first 20 minutes while shooting a combined 17-of-61 (27.9 percent) from the floor.
UTEP led for the majority of the frame, but never was able to sustain play. The result was a precarious two-point cushion (26-24) entering the locker room. The two sides traded blows over the first four minutes of the third quarter, with UTEP clinging to a one-point edge (33-32) after a jumper by Tate-DeFreitas.
The Miners found another gear, though, with overall team defense and the explosive play of Breedlove and Nash proving to be the difference. UTEP outscored the Lady Pirates, 22-8, in the final 4:55 of the third quarter, with Breedlove (10 points) and Nash (nine points) accounting for almost all of the offense in the decisive stretch.
Hampton managed to whittle it down to a nine-point deficit (57-48) with 7:21 to play in the game but UTEP would close out the contest in style. The Miners ended the game with a 21-6 run to seal their third win in as many tries this year.
UTEP will play host to the Fifth-Annual Thanksgiving Classic from Nov. 27-28. Idaho State, Southeast Missouri and UC Riverside will venture to El Paso to help comprise the field. Idaho State and Southeast Missouri will open the event at 4:35 p.m. on Friday.
The Miners will lock up with UC Riverside in the night cap at 7:05 p.m. MST. The winners of those respective games will play in the championship contest at 7:05 p.m. MST on Saturday.
The third/fourth-place contest is slated for 4:35 p.m. MST that day.
Author: UTEP Athletics