UTEP Falls In 08-09 Opener To Kansas State
Nov. 14, 2008
The UTEP women's basketball team was dealt a hard-fought 65-44 loss by Kansas State in the 2008-09 season opener for both squads at the Don Haskins Center Friday evening. The Miners trailed by only six at the half (28-22) but the defending Big 12 champions managed to pull away down the stretch.
Junior Jareica Hughes (12 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals) led the way for UTEP (0-1), with sophomore Brittnay Jones (11 points, two boards) and freshman Fannie Goodwin (10 points) joining her in double figures. Kansas State also had three players reach double digits, in the form of Ashley Sweat and Shalin Spani (13 points each) and Shalee Lehning (11 points and 11 assists).
In what was a game of runs, the Wildcats' 13-4 spurt early in the second half after UTEP had sliced the deficit to four (28-24) afforded them some much needed breathing room. The Orange and Blue continued to play hard down the stretch but were unable to get any closer than 11.
Nine of Hughes' points and half of her helpers came in the first half. That effort, in addition to UTEP forcing 10 turnovers in the opening period, played a big factor in the Miners giving the Wildcats all they could handle in those first 20 minutes.
After Kansas State jumped out to an 7-6 advantage over the first six minutes, the Miners rattled off five straight points to take an 11-7 lead with 12:37 left. Goodwin started the stretch by finishing a lay-up in traffic off a nifty pass from fellow classmate Dietra Caldwell.
Jones then drained a long triple from the corner courtesy of a feed from Hughes, but the Wildcats would respond in a big way. Kansas State scored the next 18 points, with some unlucky bounces for the Orange and Blue offensively and the Wildcats heating up from beyond the arc fueling the spurt.
Incredibly enough, the Miners found a way to not be demoralized despite facing the 14-point deficit (25-11) to the veteran-laden Wildcats (four starters and eight letterwinners back). Rather, they roared back with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to climb all the back to within three (25-22) with 3:17 left.
Goodwin got things going with another lay-up, which was followed by four successive points from Jones. Jones then took on the role of a playmaker, finding Hughes for a triple. Following a missed jumper by the Wildcats' Kelsey Nelson, Caldwell showed off her athleticism by blocking a shot and coming up with the loose change to start a fast break.
She raced down the court and dished it to Jones who converted a neat lay-up while almost flying past the basket to cap the amazing sequence.
KSU finally halted the stretch with a free throw from Branshea Brown and was able to enjoy the aforementioned six-point advantage heading into the locker room following a lay-up from Danielle Zanotti.
The dominating four-minute stretch showed that the pieces of the puzzle are there for the Miners. Finding a way to play at that level consistency will prove to be key throughout the year for the young, but talented Orange and Blue squad.
UTEP will look to bounce back when it takes on UC-Irvine at 2:05 p.m. at the Haskins Center on Sunday.