Miners close out series with a blowout

Sophomore+Avery+Crouse+drives+between+two+defenders+versus+Florida+Atlantic+Feb.+22.

Courtesy of UTEP

Sophomore Avery Crouse drives between two defenders versus Florida Atlantic Feb. 22.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners women’s basketball team exacted revenge Monday on the Florida Atlantic(FAU) Owls after having its nine-game winning streak brought to a halt Sunday in an upset lastminute loss. 

On Sunday, the Miners came out sluggish as FAU jumped to a 13-2 first quarter lead after five minutes of play. The Miners missed 14 out of its first 15 shots from the field. With just under three minutes left in the quarter, the Miners were able to cut the Owls lead to six by the end of the quarter with a 7-2 run. 

For the quarter, the Miners only hit 4 of 17 shots and were struggling from deep, missing all six of its shots from the arc. 

In the second quarter, the Owls started off making three straight 3-pointers to push its lead to 17 points at one point as the Miners had issues with turnovers. With just over a minute left in the quarter, the Miners made a sixpoint run that closed the gap to eight points at halftime. 

The second half started much the same for the Miners and the Owls increased its lead to double digits with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. At this point, the Miners put on a defensive display, only allowing an Iggy Allen 3-pointer the rest of the way. The Miners shut out the Owls over the last three minutes of the third quarter as the team pulled with two Florida Atlantic points. 

To open the third quarter, sophomore Katia Gallegos hit a jumper to tie the game with nine minutes remaining. After falling back again by 5 points, Senior Michelle Pruitt scored 5 consecutive points to tie the score once again with five minutes remaining in the game. 

Once again, the Miners fought back after falling behind and trailed by only two points with 38 seconds remaining in the game after two free throws by junior Sabine Lipe. Unfortunately, the Miners were unable to connect on a Gallegos 3-pointer and fell 67-62 for its first loss in 10 games. 

The key factors were that the Owls shot better from outside and dominated the boards 42-35. Over the win streak, the Miners had not been outrebounded by any opponents. FAU senior Iggy Allen was dominant on the floor with 28 points and 17 rebounds, including four 3-pointers. 

For the Miners, Gallegos led the team with 19 points, four steals and four assists. Pruitt continued her strong play with 15 points and 11 rebounds. 

“Usually when the home team comes from 17 down and goes up in the fourth quarter, usually the home team wins,” coach Kevin Baker said. “I haven’t been part of many games where we have a comeback like that and don’t win. 

“You’ve got to give FAU a lot of credit; you have to give Iggy Allen a lot of credit. Anyone who has 28 points and 17 rebounds that‘s the reason they won tonight. “I don’t want to take anything away from FAU, but this is the worst we’ve played in six weeks. We were due for this. This kind of thing happens.” 

On Monday, the Miners came out much more focused but FAU shot a scorching 58% from the field in the first quarter while UTEP was still struggling, shooting only 33%. Gallegos ended the quarter with a 3-pointer to give the Miners a 17-14 lead. 

In the second quarter, the Miners carved out an eight-point lead with just under two minutes remaining before the half. From that point, the Miners went scoreless and the Owls reeled off the final five points of the quarter to cut the UTEP halftime lead to 34-31. 

The Miners reeled off the first 9 points of the second half as its defense had the Owls miss its first six shots in the early going of the third quarter. With five minutes left in the quarter, the Miners jumped out to a 10 point lead. Over the next five minutes, the Miners outscored the Owls 21-5 as UTEP had a dominant  32-9 quarter to go up by 26 points. FAU shot 15% from the field for the quarter. 

UTEP would not allow FAU to get any closer for the rest of the game as the Miners went on to beat the Owls 92-62 in its highestscoring game of the season. 

Gallegos led the Miners with 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting and had five assists. Senior Danielle Roebuck had 15 points on very aggressive play that got her to the line nine times on the night. Sophomore Isis Lopes also had 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Junior Destiny Thurman had 12 points. Pruitt led the team in rebounds with seven in 15 minutes of play and added four assists. 

“We did not play well yesterday, we did not show up, I never felt like that was the real us,” Baker said. “This was more indicative of who we are. We rebounded. 

“You always wonder how you will bounce back after a loss you shouldn’t have lost. We made a statement. I said that in one of our huddles, ‘Guys, we want to make a statement that yesterday wasn’t the real us and today is.’ I thought our team did that.” 

The Miners currently sit in third place in the west division and have a chance to move up to second depending on the North Texas and Rice matchup results. If the Miners sweep its next opponent on the road, the team will receive a bye in the C-USA tournament. 

This was the last home game of the season for the Miners as the team goes on the road 1 p.m. Feb. 26 and the same time Feb. 27 against the University of Charlotte (8-7, 7-3) 49ers. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]