UTEP Edged At NM State, 69-68
Nov. 28, 2012
There were five lead changes in the final 1:21 of the game, with the final one courtesy of a pair of free throws by NM State's Danesia Williamson with 12 seconds to play. UTEP pushed the ball up the court after Williamson's second conversion but it was unable to get a shot off before time expired.
"Our offense fell short in the second half," UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. "We didn't shoot very well today. They outshot us and executed better at the end. This was a tough environment. It was pretty loud."
Defense was the dominant theme for the tilt, with neither side shooting better than 36 percent from the floor. Anete Steinberga (17 points) and Chrishauna Parker (15 points) led a balanced UTEP offense, while Kelli Willingham added nine and Irene Gari and Kayla Thornton each chipped in seven.
The Miners took great care of the ball with only nine turnovers while also making 17-of-19 at the free-throw line.
It was a similar story on offense for the Aggies, with Williamson (23 points) and Stefanie Gilbreath (22 points) carrying the lions share of the offense. NM State finished at 35.6 percent (21-of-59) from the floor, but it did some damage by draining 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from three-point range.
UTEP won the battle of the boards, 45-38, while also enjoying an advantage in points in the paint (24-10) and points off turnovers (12-5). Kayla Thornton had a big impact for the rebounding outcome by securing a career-best 15 boards. Parker hauled in eight while flirting with a double-double.
The two teams traded blows early, and the Miners led 9-7 with 12:34 to play in the first half. UTEP then began to pick things up at both ends, resulting in a 12-0 run. Thornton started it with a trey, followed by a jumper from Syerra Davis. Willingham nailed another try, and the surge was capped by a lay-up from Cameasha Turner and a jumper by Destinee LaFountain.
The Miners continued to control as the half wore on, pushing their lead out to as many as 15 (35-20) with 2:21 to play in the period. NM State regrouped and struck back with eight straight points before a lay-up by Parker reinstated a nine-point edge (37-28) at the half.
The Aggies started the second half quickly, trimming the deficit down to four (39-35) with 16:12 to play. The Miners countered with six straight points, capped by a lay-up from Saidah Zuberi Allen. To its credit, NM State continued to fight.
The home side continued to make runs, but it appeared that UTEP would have an answer to each of them. The home side eventually managed to pull even at 61 with 3:56 to play, which marked the first tie of the tilt. Steinberga hit a lay-up to put the Miners back ahead but the Aggies answered with a trey by Gilbreath with 1:22.
Willingham nailed a triple on the ensuing possession but Gilbreath once again was true from distance to get her squad back up by one (67-66). UTEP regained the lead one final time on a strong move in the post by Anete Steinberga but the Aggies pulled it out in the end thanks to the free throws from Williamson.
UTEP will return to action when it plays host to Texas State at 7:05 p.m. MST Saturday. All UTEP faculty and staff members will receive free admission to the game. Tickets for adults are $5 and kid tickets may be purchased for $3.