UTEP Women Open Season with Victory over Idaho State


POSTED: Saturday, November 12, 2011 - 4:47pm

UPDATED: Saturday, November 12, 2011 - 10:44pm

The UTEP women’s basketball team thumped Idaho State, 53-28, during a dominating second half on the way to securing a 79-63 win in the 2011-12 season opener for both squads at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon.

The Miners (1-0) trailed 35-26 at the break but turned up the heat defensively over the final 20 minutes, holding the visiting Bengals (0-1) to just four made field goals (4-of-26). A renewed approach on offense paid dividends for the home side, which shot 57.6 percent (19-of-33) during the decisive stanza.

“Idaho State is a very competitive team and we respect them a lot,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I knew we were going to have to work our tail off to get the win today.”

Senior forward Gloria Brown led the way her ninth career double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds). It was a well-rounded attack with four other Miners tallying double digits, in the form of sophomore Kayla Thornton (12 points, 8 rebounds), junior-college transfer Melisa Mendes (12 points), senior Kim Smith (10 points) & freshman Chrishauna Parker (10 points).

Junior forward Kristine Vitola chipped in seven points while sophomore guard Kelli Willingham effectively ran the offense with seven points and five assists. Smith also dished out five helpers in directing the Orange and Blue’s offense, which finished with 20 assists on 29 total field goals made.

Overall UTEP drilled 44.6 percent from the floor (29-of-65) while making 17-of-26 from the free-throw line. It wasn’t nearly as fluid offensively for the Bengals, who finished at 30.8 percent (16-of-52). ISU struggled mightily in the aforementioned second period, with it missing 22 of its first 24 shots over the initial 17 minutes.

Chelsea Pickering (20 points) paced a trio of Bengals in double figures, with Cydney Horton (17 points) and Ashleigh Vella (10 points) getting involved. No other ISU player had more than six points, though. The Bengals were harassed into 27 turnovers which led to 28 points for the Orange and Blue.

The Miners’ bench outscored the Bengals’ back-ups, 41-23. UTEP also enjoyed an edge in points in the paint (40-26) and second-chance points (12-8).

The two teams traded buckets early on, and UTEP led 7-6 with 16:42 to play in the first half after Thornton converted a lay-up. ISU picked up its play, however, using a 19-6 spurt over the next seven minutes to secure its largest lead of the game (25-13) with 9:06 left.

UTEP regrouped and rode an 8-0 run to whittle the deficit down to four (25-21) with 5:17 left but the Bengals bounced back to cruise into the locker room up by nine.

The Miners rocketed out of the gates in the second stanza, opening it up on a 17-2 surge en route to ripping control of the contest. UTEP would never relinquish the lead, with a three-point edge (50-47) with 10:17 points to play being the closest that the visitors would get.

The Miners out-scored the Bengals, 16-6, over the next several minutes to go up by 13 (66-53) with 4:03 to play. UTEP then put it on cruise control for the waning minutes.

UTEP will head up the road to challenge New Mexico State in the SONIC® ® America’s Drive-In® battle of I-10 in the Pan-American Center at 6:30 p.m. MST Wednesday

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