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UTEP women’s basketball falls to sharp-shooting Middle Tennessee

Michael Reese- Courtesy UTEP Athletics
UTEP senior guard Katarina Zec shoots a basket versus Middle Tennessee Feb.22 at the Don Haskins Center.

The Don Haskins Center began to be filled with electricity as UTEP senior guard Katarina Zec made a basket in the paint to cut the Miners deficit to four (81-77) with 4:38 remaining in the game. 

 Unfortunately for the Miners (14-12, 7-8) that would be the last sense of momentum as Middle Tennessee (18-9, 10-5) went on a 11-3 run and pulled away for a 92-80 win to give the Miners its fourth loss in five games. Zec along with senior forward Ariona Gill lead the squad with 16 points while sophomore guard Sabine Lipe scored 11 points.  

Zec is now 10th all time on the UTEP career scoring list after her latest and 19th double-digit scoring performance this season.

“I thought we played well today against a very good Middle Tennessee team, but we simply could not slow them down,” Head Coach Kevin Baker said. 

Middle Tennessee put on a show from downtown knocking down 12 three-pointers for the game on 28 attempts. The Lay Raiders were led by sophomore guard Alexis Whittington’s six three-pointers. Whittington came into the game shooting 28 percent from three (21-73) 

“They know something we don’t know because we left her open a lot on purpose her shooting percentage isn’t great, but you got to take your hat off to her,” Baker said. 

The Lady Raiders used its face paced and quick ball movement to put the Miners in tough defensive positions and allowed Middle Tennessee to get good looks at the basket.  

“I know when you look at the box score you might think that the three pointers really hurt us but really it was the penetration that caused the three pointers,” Baker said. 

Despite the Miners defensive struggles freshman guard Avery Crouse provided pressure pacing the team with four steals. Crouse scored 13 points for the second time as a Miner and grabbed three boards. 

Freshman guard Katia Gallegos clicked on multiple facets scoring 10 points, dishing seven assist, and pulling down six rebounds.  

Middle Tennessee finished the game with three players with 20 or more points and four in double digits.  Redshirt sophomore guard Anastasia Hayes put up a game high 24 points and 11 assists. 

“ They were a little hard to guard because there guards are quick and little and sometimes that’s difficult but I think at the end of the day we just have to be more disciplined and really sit down and guard,” Crouse said. 

UTEP will look to bounce back as it will be idle this week and set its focus on Southern Miss (14-12, 9-7) a team the Miners defeated on the road (89-72) Jan. 9. The matchup which will be the Miners last home game of the season is set to tip-off at 1 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Don Haskins Center.  

Isaiah Ramirez may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Isaiah Ramirez is a senior multimedia journalism major at the University of Texas at El Paso. Isaiah has worked for the university’s paper The Prospector since Spring 2018 and has held the position as a sports editor and is currently a reporter at the publication. During the fall semesters he also works as an on-air reporter for Football Friday Nights a weekly radio show showcasing local football games broadcasted by 600 ESPN El Paso. He covers local news as well as local and UTEP sporting events such as football, men’s and women’s basketball, and has covered the annual Hyundai Sun Bowl game and two-time NBA champion Danny Green’s basketball camp here in the Sun City.
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UTEP women’s basketball falls to sharp-shooting Middle Tennessee