UTEP Shoots Past Idaho State, 77-66; Will Face Arkansas In Championship Contest
Nov. 26, 2010
EL PASO, TEXAS- Behind a barrage of three pointers (11-of-19) and a solid showing defensively the UTEP women's basketball team downed Idaho State, 77-66, in the first game of the fourth-annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center Friday.
Freshman Kelli Willingham poured in career-high 23 points while fellow classmate Kayla Thornton recorded her second straight double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) to lead the way for the Miners (4-1), who will undefeated Arkansas (6-0) in the championship contest at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Four players reached double digits for Bengals (3-4), including Kaela Oakes (career-high 20 points), who will take on High Point in the third/fourth-place contest at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday.
"It was a great win against a tough-nosed competitive team," UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. "I have a lot of respect for Idaho State. We had a pretty good game defensively today. We had to be strong down the stretch, and three-point shooting helped a lot."
The Miners never trailed in the game, and were up by 11 (36-25) at the break. UTEP led by as many as 19 twice, including 64-45 at 5:45 to play in the second half. ISU used a 14-4 run to slice the deficit down to seven (67-60 at 2:45) but it could get no closer than that down the stretch.
The Orange and Blue filled up 38.9 percent (21-54) from their shots, including a season-high 57.9 percent (11-19) from beyond-the-arc. Willingham connected on 5-of-6 three-point tosses while Briana Green (2-of-4) and Kristine Vitola (2-of-2) also knocked down multiple shots from distance.
Vitola finished with a season-high 13 points while Green pitched in six points and a contest-high seven assists.
Another key for UTEP was getting after it on the glass, with 18 of its 45 rebounds coming at the offensive end. The Miners tallied 17 second-chance points compared to just seven for the Bengals. Overall UTEP out-rebounded ISU 45-39 to remain perfect (4-0) on the year when winning that area.
ISU was held to 37.3 percent shooting (22-59) while being harassed into 17 turnovers. The visitors filled up only 29.2 (7-of-24) from three-point range, although Oakes did go 5-of-6 from that range. Chelsea Pickering (13 points), Andrea Blodgett (11 points) and Ashleigh Vella (11 points) also reached double figures in scoring for ISU.
UTEP jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the Bengals countered with five straight points of their own to knot the score with 16:59 to play in the first period. The two teams traded buckets before the Miners utilized a 5-0 spurt to pull ahead for good, as it would turn out. The Orange and Blue pushed their edge out to as many as 14 (36-22) in the period before cruising into the locker room up by 11 (36-25).
ISU continued to hang around in the second half, and it trailed by 10 (48-38) with 12:40 on the clock. The Miners picked things up though at both ends, resulting in a 9-0 surge to stake a 19-point lead (57-38, 7:48).
The advantage remained 19 (64-45) with 5:45 to play before the visitors tried to rally. They got it down to seven (67-60 at 2:45) but Willingham sank a pair of free throws to halt the push.