Women’s basketball falls on the road to rival NMSU 76-68

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Women’s basketball falls on the road to rival NMSU 76-68

Jeremy Carranco, Sports Editor

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The UTEP women’s basketball team fell to rival New Mexico State 76-68 on Sunday afternoon at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces resulting in their second straight road loss.

“We looked young and played young today,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We came out of the locker room not really ready to play. Every time we showed the resilience that our kids have to get back in the game in we did something crazy to put ourselves away from the game. We never did quit. We have to play better and take care of the ball more. We are going to keep battling and hopefully figure out a way to get better.”

UTEP (5-3) led at halftime 34-33 but NMSU (3-5) used a third quarter run of 25-13 to help give the Aggies the lead for good. The Miners have now been outscored 49-24 in the third quarter in their past two contests.

“That was a strange game for us,” Baker said. “We worked so hard to gain the lead at halftime and gain momentum but we came out of the locker room for the third quarter the same way we did before the game. That can’t happen.”

The Miners were led by a career-high performance from Katarina Zec who scored 22 points, shooting 7-10 from behind the arc. The seven 3-pointers made from Zec tied a UTEP school record for made 3-pointers in a single game.

NMSU’s Brooke Salas scored 27 of her 29 points in the second half, shooting 10-17 from the floor and 6-7 from 3-point territory to help the Aggies rally past the Miners.

“If that kid (Salas) could play like that all year they’d be 8-0 right now,” Baker said. “She can play like that at times but this was probably her breakout game.”

Both teams shot well from the floor (UTEP 44.8 percent, NM State 45.3 percent) while also nailing 12 three pointers each, but NM State converted 21 UTEP turnovers into 23 points to create the separation. Conversely NM State’s 11 giveaways led to seven UTEP points. The Miners won the boards (40-31) for the eighth time in as many games.

Tamara Seda joined Zec in double figures with 12 points but fell short of her sixth-straight double-double, earning just eight boards. Junior Jordan Alexander flirted with a double-double of her own (eight points, 11 rebounds) while Najala Howell and Roeshonda Patterson each finished with nine in the game.

UTEP will be off for a week to focus on finals before returning to action against former Conference USA foe East Carolina at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at 11:30 a.m. MST/1:30 p.m. EST on Dec. 17. The game will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso.