Miners Sweep Season Series Against NMSU With 65-54 Road Win

Four Miners scored in double digits, while UTEP forced NMSU into shooting a paltry 29.5 from the field on the way to knocking off its 1-10 rivals for the second time this year by a score of 65-54 in Las Cruces High School Wednesday evening.


UTEP has now posted four straight victories against the Aggies and has emerged triumphantly in six of the past seven match-ups.


The win improves the Miners to 5-1 on the year, including 1-0 on the road after tonight. The victory was particularly impressive considering the environment in which the game was held. Due to ongoing renovations at the Pan-American Center, the contest was moved to the high school. Not only did the Miners have to overcome the rowdy fans on hand, but they were forced to play the entire game without an operating shot clock.


“It was a very good win for us tonight,” head coach Keitha Adams said. “I thought we came into a tough environment and played really well. We showed a lot of composure throughout the game.”


Izabela Piekarska led the charge by posting her first double-double on the campaign (17 points, 11 rebounds), while Timika Williams (14 points, seven boards), Jareica Hughes (12 points, four caroms) and Ana Valtierra (12 points, eight boards) provided plenty of support.


The Orange and Blue defense also shined, contesting every shot en route to NMSU turning in the worst effort from the field of any opponent this year. The Aggies made just 18-61 shots in the game.


One other key factor was the Miners’ aggressive play. UTEP continuously drove to the lane, initiating contact, and it was rewarded with 29 free-throw attempts. The Miners converted 21 of them for a respectable 70.4 percent.


The Miners quickly jumped out the lead, 3-0, after Hughes buried a triple a little less than two minutes into the game. Although NMSU would tie it several times, UTEP never relinquished the advantage.


The margin grew to seven (16-7), courtesy of a strong inside move by Williams with 12 minutes remaining in the period. The Miners pushed their lead into double digits (23-13) for the first time with 5:12 remaining in the period after Jonna Launiainen drilled a triple.


The two squads traded baskets the remainder of the first period, which allowed UTEP to enter the half with an eight-point advantage (29-21).


Following a lay-up by Piekarska out of the gates, NMSU ran off four straight points to get within six with 17:31 to play in the game. That is as close as the Aggies would get the remainder of the contest, as the Miners increased their intensity.


The margin ballooned to 15, the largest of the night, with 3:04 left in the game after Piekarska scored on a pretty left-hand lay-up.


The Aggies tried to claw their way back into the game down the stretch, but clutch free-throw shooting by UTEP ensured that there would be no comeback. Valtierra was the main culprit, connecting on thee attempts in the final minute to seal the win.


UTEP will be back in action on Saturday, taking on North Texas at 2:05 p.m. inside the Don Haskins Center.



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