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UTEP women fall short against Louisiana Tech

Sergio Muñoz
UTEP falls to Louisiana Tech 65-62 to drop to 5-5 in Conference USA.

Louisiana Tech used a strong third quarter (22-13) and hit big shots in the fourth quarter to get by UTEP 65-62 on Saturday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center.

The Miners (14-9, 5-5 C-USA) led for nearly five minutes while the visiting Lady Techsters controlled the game in their favor for 30 minutes.

“We didn’t play well enough to win today,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Baker. “If I could go back and erase two minutes from the third quarter I would but that’s not how the game works, you have to play for 40 minutes and LA Tech did.”

UTEP had a chance to tie the game up at 65-65 with just under four seconds left to play but the inbounds to a well-defended Zuzanna Puc forced a poor shot that fell short off the backboard at time expired.

“We had a nice set play we were going to run off the inbounds and she (Puc) was kind of open off the stagger but not open enough for her to take a good shot,” Baker said. “She was the supposed to drive to the heavy side of the floor and kick it but she went the wrong way, we should have set her up a little better.”

The Miners got to within two (58-56) at the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter but Louisiana Tech’s Kierra Lang hit her only 3-point attempt in the contest to shift the momentum of the game back to the Lady Techsters.

UTEP shot a better percentage (46.2 percent – 42.6 percent) than Louisiana Tech, hit more overall field goals (24-23) and held a slight advantage on the boards (32-31) but the Lady Techsters nailed 8-18 from distance compared to the Miners’ 2-11 to make up for those areas.

Najala Howell, who is UTEP’s second leading scorer with an average 13.3 points per game was held scoreless. She attempted just three shots.

“I think she just had a rough game,” Baker said. “It started for her in the unnoticeable (not guarding), if you’re not defending then we can’t have you on the floor. I hate it for her that she didn’t play well because she works hard everyday in practice and she deserves success but today just wasn’t her day.”

UTEP, who leads Conference USA is rebounding margin (+7.6), won the margin by one against the Lady Techsters. The Miners lost on the offensive side as Louisiana Tech had nine to UTEP’s eight, including a 5-0 defeat in that category in the third quarter.

“They’re a hard team to keep off the boards,” Baker said. “They outrebounded us by five on offensive (rebounds) in the third quarter. We are getting the stops we want and not getting the rebounds, so it affects our energy.”

The Miners were led by senior Tamara Seda who tallied 23 points along with a team high eight rebounds in the loss. Katarina Zec earned 15 while Puc put up 13.

“They came out to play and we took for granted some things that we should have stopped,” Seda said. “This team had such a strong post presence, so it was going to be the battle of the rebounds, if they didn’t get it we were going to get it anyways so it was tough.”

Leading the rebounding effort for the Lady Techsters was Alexus Malone with 11. She was also her team’s leading scorer with 21 points.

The Miners drop to seventh place in C-USA play but will face two of the conference’s bottom five teams next week.

UTEP will be back in action on the road for their next contest at Marshall on Thursday in Huntington, W.Va.

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Jeremy Carranco
Jeremy Carranco, Sports Editor
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UTEP women fall short against Louisiana Tech