Gauchos Upset Miners


POSTED: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 11:51pm

UPDATED: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 2:20pm

UTEP Loses For First Time This Season

The UTEP women’s basketball team was saddled with its first loss of the season in challenging fashion, falling to UC Santa Barbara, 49-48, on a last-second shot by Sweets Underwood inside the Don Haskins Center Wednesday evening.

The Miners (10-1) led 47-40 with 2:56 to play only to have the Gauchos (5-6) close out in the contest on a 9-2 push, which was capped by Underwood’s short jumper off an out-of-bounds play with 0.4 seconds remaining.

Kayla Thornton tallied 11 points, while Gloria Brown pitched in nine and Kelli Willingham scored eight to lead the way for the Miners, who could never get their offense clicking on all cylinders. UTEP committed only 11 turnovers, equaling its second-lowest total of the season, but was challenged at times to knock down shots.

The Orange and Blue finished at 35.2 percent from the floor (19-of-54), with a readout of 18.8 percent (3-of-16) from three-point land impacting that figure. The Miners heated up in the second stanza to drill 45.5 percent from the floor, including 2-of-4 from distance, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.

Even with the challenges at the offensive end, the Miners’ defense nearly propelled them to an 11th straight win. The Gauchos were harassed into 15 turnovers while also becoming the school-record ninth straight foe to be held to fewer than 55 points.

UCSB managed to sink 40.8 percent (20-of-49) from the floor, including 50 percent (5-of-10) from beyond the arc. Nicole Nesbit came off the bench to produce a game-high 12 points, with Kelsey Adrian (nine points) and Melissa Zornig (eight points) also getting involved.

Underwood finished with five points, and was 1-of-9 from the floor prior to her game-winning shot.
The two teams traded baskets early on before the visitors used a mini surge to grab a 7-2 lead with 13:58 to play in the first half. The Miners regrouped and countered with an 8-0 run to surge ahead by three (10-7). UTEP eventually increased the cushion to eight (22-14) with 2:15 to play in the period, but the Gauchos were able to trim the deficit to one (24-23) heading into halftime.

The Miners came out strong in the second stanza, and re-instated an eight-point advantage (36-28) with 13:29 to play. Willingham made back-to-back three-point shots and Brown converted a lay-up off a nice fee from Kim Smith.

UCSB continued to play hard, but still found itself down seven (47-40) heading into the waning minutes of the contest. The Miners would not be able to hold on, though.

UTEP will look to bounce back when it returns to action following the holiday break by playing at Pacific 12 power Arizona State at 6:30 p.m. MST on Dec. 28.

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