UTEP women’s basketball comes up short in final seconds against Utah State

UTEP+sophomores+Katia+Gallegos+and+Crouse+double+team+Utah+State+guard+Meagan+Mendazona+in+Logan+%2C+Utah+Dec.+13.

Courtesy of UTEP

UTEP sophomores Katia Gallegos and Crouse double team Utah State guard Meagan Mendazona in Logan , Utah Dec. 13.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

After trailing most of the game, the UTEP Miners came up short in the final seconds against the Utah State Aggies  68-65 on the road.  

Starting the season 3-0 with two overtime wins over New Mexico State and a close in over Incarnate Word, the Miners, have gained a reputation for pulling out close games down the stretch in this young season. 

On Sunday that streak ended as the Miners were able to come back from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter and take a one-point lead with a minute left in the game. Unfortunately, the Miners could not pull out another comeback win as the team lost a close game. 

The Miners started the game out slow and struggled to make open shots early in the game. Defensively the Miners also struggled to defend the Aggies as UTEP fell behind by 8 points within the first three minutes of the game. By the end of the first quarter, the Miners were trailing by 11 points as the only scoring it could muster were from sophomore point guard Katia Gallegos who scored nine of the 15 points for UTEP for the period. 

Trailing 27-16, one minute into the second quarter, the Miners then went on a 10-point run that brought the team within one point of the lead. Destiny Thurman made her presence known in her Miner debut during this quarter junior transfer guard with 7 points in the quarter. Unfortunately, Utah State went on a run of three straight 3-pointers that helped them go on a run and end the quarter with a nine-point lead. 

The half ended with the Aggies holding a 42-33 lead. Shooting over 50% from the field and from the  3-point range, the Aggie outside game proved very difficult to defend for the Miners. On the boards, the Aggies half a substantial 20-12 advantage over the Miners. 

At the 6:42 mark of the third quarter, the Miners trailed by 11 points, having only scored one field goal to that point. The Miners then went on an 11-point run to pull within three points of the Aggies. The quarter would end with the Miners trailing 53-49. 

After struggling with her shot most of the night, Thurman made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the score with about five minutes remaining in the game. Both teams kept the pressure on as the Aggies clung to a small lead until sophomore forward Tatyana Modawar hit an open 3-pointer to give the Miners its first lead since the first score of the game. 

With 30 seconds left in the game, Crouse made one of two free throws to tie the score at 65. On the following possession, the Aggies scored, giving them the lead. Thurman’s missed 3-pointer sealed the Miners’ fate with nine seconds left in the game. With four seconds left in the contest, the Miners had one more chance to tie the game on a long 3- pointer by Gallegos that did not fall as the game ended 68-65 for an Aggie win. 

In the second half, the Miners were much more focused defensively but poor shooting from the 3-point arc doomed the team’s efforts shooting 8-28 overall. The Aggies also dominated on the boards by a 49-33 margin. The Miners dominated the turnover battle by gaining 10 more takeaways than Utah State. 

Gallegos had another strong all-around game with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 5 from the arc. She also added six rebounds and five assists on the night. Making her debut for the Miners, Thurman took a team-high 18 shots but struggled from the field, only making five. Once Thurman gets comfortable, she should be the deadly outside scorer that the Miners desperately need. 

Missing the game due to undisclosed reasons was guard Sabine Lipe. 

The Miners fell to 3-1 and will next play 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in Flagstaff, Arizona. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]