UTEP women’s basketball fall at home after last-second shot attempt

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Priscilla Gomez

Senior forward Jordan Alexander scored 14 points against the Souther Miss Lady Eagles at the Don Haskins Center.

Daniel Mendez, Web Editor

The UTEP women’s basketball team lost its second straight game to Southern Miss Lady Eagles, 64-63, Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Don Haskins Center.

Southern Miss would take advantage of points off turnovers as they scored 28 points compared to UTEP’s 10.

UTEP is now 6-20, 3-10 C-USA while Southern Miss improves to 15-11, 7-6 C-USA.

“We were exhausted before the game even started and the fact that we came out and played as well as we did is a testament to them and their character and what they stand for,” said Head Coach Kevin Baker. “So, (I’m) really proud of them I’m just sick of coming up short they this team deserves better.”

After being down a quick 4-0 to start the game in the first quarter the ladies in orange and blue closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run to give UTEP a two-point lead against Southern Miss, 18-16

UTEP would use that momentum as it went to the second quarter, UTEP opened up by going on a 9-0 run scoring all their points from behind the arc. Senior forward Jordan Alexander scored six of the nine points for the Miners. The Miners defense forced three offensive fouls and a shot clock violation all in the second period.

UTEP went into the half up by six against the Lady Eagles.  UTEP shot over 50 percent from the field and nearly 56 percent from behind the arc.

Southern Miss flipped the script in the second half opening up the third period on a 9-0 run to take the lead over the Miners. The Lady Eagles outscored UTEP, 21-12, UTEP committed seven of their 22 turnovers as Southern Miss went into the final frame with a two-point lead, 44-42.

As the fourth quarter went on UTEP and Southern Miss exchanged baskets as UTEP cut the Southern Miss lead to one. After going on a quick five-point run for the Miners. Southern Miss would go on to extend their lead to 51 with five minutes left in regulation. Junior forward Ariona Gill would tie the game at 51 after nailing the Miners ninth basket from behind the arc. UTEP would get its first lead in the fourth quarter after Gill made two free throw attempts.

Southern Miss would tie the game up at 53. Gill would find junior forward Zuzanna Puc for a layup to give UTEP a two-point lead. The Lady Eagles tied the game at 55 after nailing two free throws. Junior point guard Neidy Ocuane would give the Miners a three-point lead after nailing the 10th Miners triple. UTEP would go on to extend their lead to four. Southern Miss would cut the lead to one before Gill was sent back to the line. Gill would make 1-of-2 attempts before Southern Miss Alarie Mayze got the rebound with eight seconds left, rushed the ball up court and nailed a 3 to give them a one-point lead with 1.9 on the clock. UTEP on their last play of the game failed to inbound the ball and resulted in a turnover when Gill caught the ball out of bounds on the sideline.

“The same thing that always happens is that we run a play to get the ball inside to Zuzanna (Puc) they double team and then we just kind of panicked in and didn’t get the ball inbounds where we wanted to,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of options on that play. We just panicked a little bit, and one of the things about it is we haven’t really practice that play with different players and different spots just because of our lineup so a lot of people were a little unsure of how exactly we execute that play. And that’s my fault.”

Coach Baker on what happened when Southern Mis rebounded the ball and took the ball up court for the possession that gave them the win and the lead.

“I thought about was shooting because she’s not there shooter,” Baker said. “She’s made two all season so I thought, this is good. We’re guarding exactly the way we need to but let’s get her to shoot it. Not a high percentage shot for her, in my head it went exactly the way I wanted it to or thought. But hey, anytime a player in college basketball can step up and hit a shot that wins the game. All you can do is tip your hat and move on.”

Due to injuries, UTEP suited up seven players, each player that played contributed by scoring more than five points.

Three Miners would score in double-digits; junior guard Katarina Zec scored 11, Gill and Alexander both chipped in 14 points. Gill led all Miners with a team-high of seven rebounds.

“I think this is one of our best games we played this season,” Gill said. “We’re only going to get better from here. Finish out strong, got to continue to get better and play better.”