UTEP women’s basketball sweep Louisiana Tech on road

Sophomore+guard+Avery+Crouse+lays+the+ball+up+over+a+defender+versus+the+Lady+Techsters+in+Ruskin%2C+Louisiana++Jan+22.

Courtesy of UTEP

Sophomore guard Avery Crouse lays the ball up over a defender versus the Lady Techsters in Ruskin, Louisiana Jan 22.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

Over the weekend, the UTEP Miners (8-5, 5-3) defeated the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (9-5, 4-4) 61-58 Friday and 75-67 Saturday, picking up its first road victories of the season to move into third place in the Conference USA West Division. 

In game one for the Miners, Louisiana Tech jumped out to a quick lead, scoring the game’s first seven points. At the eight minute mark, Sophomore guard Isis Lopes put the Miners on the board for the first time with a 3-pointer that started a 16-5 run to give UTEP the lead. Tech went on to score just before the buzzer to close out the first quarter trailing to UTEP 16-14. 

UTEP scored the first 7 points of the second quarter, stretching its lead to 23-14 with seven minutes left in the period. At the 6:28 mark of the quarter, the Miners went cold shooting, not scoring a point for the next six minutes of the game. The Miners missed its next nine shots and had three turnovers over that t span, which allowed the Lady Techsters to close within 2 points. For four minutes, neither team could find a way on the scoreboard as both teams struggled with shooting. 

The Miners were finally able to break its scoreless streak with 24 seconds left in the half on a pullup jumper from junior Destiny Thurman as UTEP went into halftime with a 27-23 lead. 

For the entire third quarter, the Miners were able to maintain its lead. With the Miners leading by 6 points with two minutes and a half remaining in the quarter, the Bulldogs hit a key 3-pointer that closed the gap that soon became only a 2 point lead for the Miners with less than a minute remaining. 

Sophomore guard Avery Crouse scored 6 straight points for the Miners in the final 13 seconds of the period to extend the Miner lead to 46-39. Crouse had 8 total points for the quarter. 

Crouse continued her 8 point scoring streak with a layup at the eight minute mark that gave the Miners a 9 point lead. 

Over the next three minutes, the Bulldogs chipped away at the Miner lead. At the 4:42 mark of the quarter, the Bulldogs pulled within 2 points but on the Miners’ next possession, Crouse hit another key 3-pointer to put UTEP up 54-49. 

Louisiana Tech made one last run, closing the score to 3 points with two minutes remaining, but Lopes and senior Michelle Pruitt’s jumpers put an end to the Techsters’ chances. A last second score by Tech ended the game with the Miners winning 61-58. 

On the night, Crouse led the team with a great overall game scoring 17 points, six rebounds along with two assists and steals. Lopes had another strong game with 13 points and Pruitt led the team in rebounds with a career-high 12. 

In game two, the Miners and Lady Techsters went back and forth in a hard-fought first quarter that saw six UTEP players score. During that period, the Miners’ two top scorers Gallegos and Crouse, were held scoreless as UTEP trailed at the end of the quarter 14-13. 

Nine seconds into the second quarter, junior Sabine Lipe gave the Miners its only lead of the quarter, as Louisiana Tech would go onto a 35-28 halftime lead buoyed by an 8-0 run at the seven minute mark. 

For most of the third quarter, the Lady Techsters were able to keep a 5 point or more lead and even stretch it to double digits at the five minute mark. Trailing by 7 points with less than a minute left in the quarter, Crouse went to the foul line and helped start a 6-point run that ended with a Gallegos jumper to cut the Louisiana Tech lead to 55-53. 

Twelve seconds into the fourth quarter, Crouse hit a layup, which started an 11-point run by the Miners, giving UTEP a 65-55 lead with seven minutes left in the game. 

With three minutes remaining in the game, Louisiana Tech’s Anna Larr Robinson would score back to back jumpers that brought the team within a point of the Miners.  

With 48 seconds left in the game, Crouse would once again step up when needed to stretch the Miner lead to 4 points. Tech’s Amber Dixon would respond with a layup nine seconds later, once again making it a two-point game. 

At this point, the Miners defense stepped up and shut down Tech the rest of the way. The Miners were able to draw three straight fouls and hit its final six points from the charity stripe. 

“Offensively, it all came together in the second half. We’ve been executing our offense, but in this game, our shots began to fall in the second half consistently,” UTEP coach Kevin Baker said. “Our defense was strong as well and it feels really good to get this sweep. Avery Crouse did a great job, we always knew she could score, but the past two weeks she has really rebounded the ball well and I am really happy with that. Avery also does a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score.” 

This was Baker’s first win over Louisiana Tech as a head coach and the first win for the Miners since the 2016-2017 season over the Lady Techsters.

The Miners had five players in double figures, with Crouse again leading the way with a great all-around effort. Crouse had 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.  

Senior Dejanae Roebuck came through with her fifth double-digit scoring game of the season. Ever since her 17 point performance against Southern Miss, Roebuck had only scored 6 points in the last five games. 

 Other players in double figures were Gallegos (12), Thurman (11) and Pruitt(10). Gallegos also added six assists and three steals. Gallegos is currently second in Conference-USA in assists with 4.8 a game and seventh in field goal percentage with 44%. 

For the game, the Miners outshot the Lady Techsters 54% to 47%, with both teams shooting well. The Miners shot 33% from the 3point range above its season average of 28%. Rebounding wise the Miners dominated the boards with a 29-19 advantage. 

Next up for the Miners is a home and away series versus the University of Texas at San Antonio (2-11, 0-8) 7 p.m. Jan. 28. at the Don Haskins Center. 

 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]