UTEP women’s basketball sweep UTSA, extends win streak to five

UTEP+senior+center+Michelle+Pruitt+drives+to+the+paint+against+a+UTSA+defender+in+a+win+over+the+Roadrunners+Jan.+28.

Courtesy of UTEP

UTEP senior center Michelle Pruitt drives to the paint against a UTSA defender in a win over the Roadrunners Jan. 28.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners (10-5,7-3) finished out its home and away series against the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Road Runners (2-13,0-10) with a 67-51 Saturday afternoon win following an 82-56 win Thursday. 

In game one of the matchup played at the Don Haskins, the Miners dominated the action as it took control of the game following a steal by junior Sabine Lipe that she took the court’s length to give UTEP its first lead. 

Two straight baskets followed this score by sophomore Avery Crouse, including a 3-pointer, which gave the Miners a 7-point lead. Junior Destiny Thurman continued the UTEP run with seven straight points, including two 3-pointers that finished the Miners 11 point run to end the first quarter leading 21-10. For the quarter, the Miners clamped down on defense, holding the Roadrunners to 25% shooting. 

UTSA continued to struggle in the second quarter as the team could get no closer than 9 points. After falling behind 31-18 with 5:40 left in the half, UTSA would not score again for the next five minutes of the game. During that stretch of the game, the Miners forced three turnovers and held the Roadrunners to six straight missed shots. With 16 seconds left in the half, the Roadrunners finally got back on the scoreboard with a Karly Larson 3-pointer to trail 39-21 in the game. 

For the third quarter, the Miners would not let UTSA get any closer than 13 points. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Thurman and Lipe extended the Miner lead to 20 points with two minutes left in the quarter. Senior Michelle Pruitt closed out Miner scoring in the quarter with a jumper that gave UTEP a 58-37 lead going into the game’s final period. 

Pruitt would dominate the first three minutes of the final quarter with 6 points and a steal that set the tone for the Miners as the team led by 25 points at this point of the game. The Miners easily overcame the Roadrunners 58% shooting in the quarter, hitting 11 of 17 shots from the field to close out the game in an 82-56 rout. 

One of the things we talked about before the game tipped off was that we feel like we have the best bench in Conference USA, head coach Kevin Baker said. I challenged them before the game started and said lets go be better than everybody elses bench. I thought we did that today. Im super proud of them, and I know that we can even play better than we did.  

Shooting 56% for the game on 34 of 60 shooting, the Miners posted its best shooting percentage and largest margin of victory of the season. A tremendous allaround effort buoyed by 45 points from the bench sparked the effort. The Miners dominated the glass by a 13 rebound margin. 

Leading the Miners in scoring was Thurman with her fourth 14-point effort of the season, including three of five shooting from the 3-point line. Sophomore point guard Katia Gallegos finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Pruitt hit all six of her shots from the field, finishing with 12 points and led the team in rebounds with seven in only 16 minutes of play. 

In the second game played in San Antonio Saturday, both teams would struggle to make shots in the first quarter, with the Miners shooting 28% and the Roadrunners shooting 275 to start the game. The Roadrunners would close out the quarter with a 13-12 lead due to Kyleigh McGuire grabbing a rebound on her own miss and laying the ball back up for the score. 

With the score tied at 18 apiece three minutes into the next period, the Miners took a 6-point lead off back-to-back threes from sophomore Isis Lopes and junior Tia Bradshaw. The Miners extended its lead to 8-points off a transition jumper from Bradshaw. For the final three minutes of the half, the Miners would be plagued by turnovers as the Roadrunners clawed back to only trail by two at the half. 

For the first two minutes of the third quarter, the Miners clung to a twopoint lead. With six minutes left in the quarter, the Miners had carved out a slim 37-32. UTEP’Lipe then proceeded to hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Miners up by a doubledigit lead culminating in 12 consecutive points for UTEP with a minute remaining in the quarter. A Thurman jumper just before the buzzer would close out the quarter for the Miners holding a commanding 51-34 lead. 

The final quarter started with Thurman hitting an open 3-pointer to extend the UTEP lead to 20 points. For the next three and half minutes, the Miners would go on a scoring drought missing two shots from the arc as UTSA trimmed its deficit to 8 points. For the second time in the game, Lipe stepped up with UTSA trying to rally and two consecutive 3-pointers to extend the Miner lead. The Roadrunners would never get the lead under double digits for the rest of the game as the Miners went on to win 67-51. 

Everyone has five that can play, but when you have 12 that can contribute, its like a coachs dream, Baker said. I’m proud of that and our coaches have worked hard recruiting until we get to that point where we have that kind of bench. To see them get the payoff for their hard work really makes us all feel good.” 

For the first time, this season Lipe led the team in scoring with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Lipe also added six rebounds, three assists along with a steal and a block for the night. Gallegos and Lopes also finished in double figures with 10 points apiece. Gallegos led the team in assists with six to go along with five rebounds. Pruitt gave another strong effort leading the team in minutes with 30 and rebounds with eight. 

“It was nice to have her (Lipe) back; she’s a good player for us,” Baker said. “She wasn’t herself for four or five games, but tonight she made great decisions; she hit open shots. That’s the type of player she is.” 

UTEP had another strong shooting performance hitting 46% from the field while limiting UTSA to only 31%. For the second straight game, UTEP was able to shoot 40% from the arc. Before the UTSA series, the Miners had been shooting 28% for the season. The UTEP bench had another strong game contributing 33 points and the Miners again won the battle of the boards 40-36. 

For the month of January, the Miners finished 7-3 in conference play and now sit in third place in the incredibly competitive west division in Conference-USA.  

The Miners return home to face the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers (7-7, 2-6) for a twogame series starting 7 p.m. Friday, Feb.5, at the Don Haskins Center. Over the month of January, the Blazers are 2-6 and are currently on a fourgame losing streak. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]