POSTED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 9:04pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 10:49pm
UTEP pounded East Carolina down low while punishing it on the glass on the way to picking up its first victory inside Minges Coliseum, 66-56, Wednesday evening.
The game was tied at 35 at the half but the Miners (16-2, 5-0 C-USA) ripped control of the contest with an 11-2 run over the first nine minutes of the second stanza. The Pirates (6-11, 0-4 C-USA) tried to rally but each run was answered with one by the visitors.
The Miners never relinquished the lead, and used a 9-3 surge down the stretch to seal their first triumph in four trips to Greenville. The Miners, winners of six straight, also extend their best start on the road in school history to 6-1.
Gloria Brown posted her eighth double-double of the year (17 points, 11 boards) to lead the way while Anete Steinberga added a season-best 15 points and Kayla Thornton pitched in 10. Senior Kim Smith also stood out with a career-best five rebounds and a career-high-tying six assists in 26 minutes of action.
“It was a great road win for us,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We played much better in the second half. The post players gave us a strong presence inside. I’m very proud of our team.”
UTEP hit 47.4 percent from the floor (27-of-57), including 61.5 percent over the first 20 minutes. It scored 40 points in the paint while adding another 10 at the charity stripe. The miners out-rebounded ECU, 47-29, and enjoyed a margin of 19-8 in second-chance points.
The Pirates finished at 36.8 percent from the floor, including just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) in the second half. ECU committed 18 turnovers, which resulted in 13 UTEP points. Celeste Stewart tallied 14 points to pace the Pirates.
ECU scored the first two points of the tilt but UTEP rattled off a 10-3 run. The Pirates countered and pulled even at 12 as result of a 7-2 surge. The two teams traded baskets over the next several minutes before the Miners re-instated a five-point edge (26-21) with 5:31 to play in the period.
To its credit ECU rallied back with five consecutive points, and was up 35-33 with 34 seconds left in the period following a triple from Paschal. Kelli Willingham, who had four helpers, set up Steinberga for a wide-open lay-up to pull her squad even at the break.
ECU got the first bucket in the second half but the Miners controlled things on from that point.
UTEP will return home to play host to Houston at 1:05 p.m. MST Sunday. The game will be the second of three scheduled “Grand Prize Giveaway Games.”