Miners lose to hot shooting Golden Eagles
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The UTEP women never led in their fourth Conference-USA game as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles defeated the Miners 79-68 to bring the team’s record to 2-2 in conference and 4-12 overall.
At times on Saturday afternoon USM looked as if they could not miss. The team ended the day shooting 58.2% — led by guard Brittany Dinkins with 29 points on 13-22 shooting. Dinkins’ 29 points was a career-high.
The Golden Eagle’s 58.2% was their highest shooting percentage of the season – in fact, the team had not shot over 50% all season. Amazingly, the Golden Eagles were 0-7 on three-pointers in the game.
Typically, UTEP head coach Keitha Adams will tell you that winning the war on the boards will win you the game – that was not the case against the Golden Eagles. The Miners outrebounded USM 35-23, yet lost the paint battle when it came to the important area – scoring.
UTEP was outscored in the paint 40-32 on the back of 30 points off turnovers by USM and 22 on the fast break.
“All I told our team was, their defense and us turning the ball over like we did today – we’re in the game, even with all of that, we’re still in the game, we have a chance – but, we just didn’t take care of the ball,” said Adams. “We’ve just got to value the ball a lot more.”
The Miners were in the back-and-forth game against the Golden Eagles (11-5, 3-1 C-USA) for the majority of the game – despite trailing the entire contest – as the teams traded baskets the entire way. Where USM really gained ground was UTEP’s cold streaks. At the 6:00 mark of the second quarter, UTEP did not make a shot for 3:15, while USM finished the half going 5-for-7.
At halftime, the Golden Eagles led 38-29.
Following the break, the streaky Miners streaked the good way and scored on their first six possessions. The score was 44-42 USM before things began to trend the other direction in a big way – with the referees beginning to play a bigger role in the game.
Freshman forward Zuzanna Puc fought for a defensive rebound and was thrown to the ground, eventually being called for a loose ball foul. As a chorus of boos rained down from the stands, Adams erupted in the direction of the referee making the call, eventually receiving a technical foul. The shooter for USM would make both shots.
When asked after the game if the technical was due to the Puc call or a series of non-calls, Adams would only say, “you saw it.”
When a call did go the Miners’ way, poor free throw shooting – the team was 11-19 on the day – plagued the team. With 0.07 seconds left in the third quarter, sophomore guard Najala Howell was fouled trying to heave up a desperation three, but missed all three free-throws. Even the put back by Puc was missed to end the period.
The highlight of the fourth quarter may have been that junior forward Tamara Seda secured her sixth career double-double when she scored with 6:58 left to play. Following her score, USM continued to force turnover after turnover and stretched the lead to the largest of the game at 13 points.
Senior Sparkle Taylor once again had double-digit points with 21, leading the team. Puc lead the freshmen with eight points and seven rebounds.
“I challenged the team to pick up their intensity in practice, to better prepare ourselves for it and we’ll try to learn from this and move forward,” said Adams about her young team.
Adams has five days to get her team ready to play Florida International in Miami on Thursday night.