SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – A tough Sacramento State team handed UTEP its first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon, a 63-50 defeat inside the Mott Athletics Center.
The Hornets (5-1) are expected to be one of the top competitors in the Big Sky this year and have shown why in the early portion of the campaign.
N’Yah Boyd had a strong performance for the Miners, netting a team-high 18 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the floor. Boyd also grabbed five rebounds.
In the first quarter, the two sides raced out to an early 8-7 Sacramento State lead after an Avery Crouse triple with 5:52 on the clock brought the Miners to within one. The teams then combined to miss 11 straight shots after the quick start, with the Hornets accounting for seven of those.
During the stretch, UTEP was kept off the board for 5:30 of game action, with Boyd snapping the drought with a jumper to make it 15-9 late in the first to end a 7-0 Sacramento State run.
Continuing to play well, the Hornets eventually extended the advantage to 27-14 with 3:50 remaining before the halftime break.
Needing a spark to get the lead back to single digits, UTEP would rattle off 10 straight points led by four for Boyd and four more from Erin Wilson to cut the Sacramento State edge to just 27-24 at the half.
A back-and-forth third quarter saw the game remain within five points the entire way.
In the fourth though, the Hornets outscored the Miners 20-12 thanks to a 50 percent shooting clip from the floor and eight free throws.
Sabine Lipe had a quality performance off the bench for UTEP, contributing nine points with a rebound, an assist and a steal.
“We played a great game today and I am so proud of our team,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “We did some things on the floor that really impressed me, but we had some tough breaks, and a few things didn’t go our way today. We have played poorly and won. Today we played great and lost.”
Four players reached double figures for Sacramento State in the win. Isnelle Natabou stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points and 14 rebounds while Katie Peneueta also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Just six players took the floor for the Hornets on Saturday, with Natabou and Peneueta each playing the whole 40 minutes.
UTEP heads home to take on rival NM State next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Battle of I-10.