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Streaky shooting dooms Miners against rival Aggies

Nina Titovets

Much like the El Paso weather can swing from hot to cold at a moment’s notice, the UTEP women’s basketball team saw their shooting percentage swing all over the chart on Thursday, Dec 15, in the Don Haskins Center. The inconsistency would eventually lead to a 67-59 loss to their rivals, New Mexico State, in the latest rendition of the Battle of I-10.

The Miners were cold to begin the game and it took until the 2:20 mark of the first quarter for freshman forward Zuzanna Puc to score the first basket of the game for the home team. By that point, head coach Keitha Adams had already received a technical foul for arguing a non-call on what she thought should have been a foul call under the NMSU basket with 4:05 remaining. The Aggies converted the two free throws and score on the subsequent possession, making the score 9-4.

By the time Puc scored at 2:20, the Miners were 1-for-11 shooting and trailed the Aggies 13-6. The Miners eventually got hot and took the lead at 6:59 of the second quarter. Freshman forward Faith Cook rebounded the ball, turned and launched a full court pass to streaking freshman guard Najala Howell who laid the ball in to give UTEP a 22-20 lead.

The two teams would trade buckets before the half when freshman guard Roeshonda Patterson put up an ill-advised three-point shot with plenty of time left on the clock. The Aggies rebounded the ball, made the lay-up, stole the in-bounds pass with five seconds left and scored again – ending the half on a 6-0 run and taking the lead 37-34.

“The three (Patterson) shot, she could have taken that with five seconds. I mean she was in NBA range, she could have taken that at the end and all that did was give them the ball. They came down, scored,”said head coach Keitha Adams following the game.

The poor end to the first half appears to have fed over into the second half for the streaky Miners. After shooting 47.4% in the second quarter, UTEP shot 27.3% in the third quarter and the game all but slipped away from the young team.

“We had a really bad first five minutes of the third quarter. We came out lethargic and slow. They jumped on us in that first five minutes of the third quarter and then we dug ourselves in a hole and we had to fight our way back,” Adams said.

At 4:23 of the third quarter, senior guard Tamera William for the Aggies, the game’s leading scorer with 15 points, made back-to-back steals leading to four points for NMSU and extending the Aggie lead to 48-39. By the 1:30 mark, UTEP had not scored for over five minutes.

However, with 25 seconds left in the quarter, Puc made a running layup for her 11th point, giving her a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and ended a near seven minute scoring drought for the Miners.

“I told those guys, ‘Look, we’re not talented enough to turn it on and off. We’ve got to play extremely hard and we’ve got to play with a sense of urgency for forty minutes,” Adams said.

The Miners tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter as the team once again got hot. However, it was too little too late. The team shot 55.6 percent to the Aggies’ 28.6 percent, but it still equaled only four made field goals to five in the fourth quarter. With a chance to bring the game to within two points, junior guard Lulu McKinney saw her 3-pointer rim out with 25.1 seconds left.

“I’ve never lost to (the Aggies) since I’ve been here. It sucks,” McKinney said. “And of course they talk trash, you know?”

The Miners had defeated the Aggies in the previous five games and are now 15-6 since 2005-06 in the Battle of I-10.

The UTEP women’s basketball team will play against Pittsburgh on Dec. 19 in Niceville, Florida as part of the Patrick Harrington Tournament.

Follow Jason Green on Twitter @greenevansj



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Streaky shooting dooms Miners against rival Aggies