UTEP opens C-USA play with 18-point win over Southern Miss


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The UTEP women’s basketball team opened the new year with an 18-point win over Southern Miss, 83-65, in their Conference USA opener on Friday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP jumped out to an early 13-point lead in the first quarter behind its highest-scoring quarter of the season with 25 points. The Miners used a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull away for their fourth consecutive win in Conference USA openers. UTEP has won 11 of their last 12 conference openers. 

“I’ve said all along we have a really deep team,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Baker. “We’ve got players that can play. It doesn’t matter if you start them or don’t start them. Those things don’t matter. When they are on the floor, they come together very well. I thought our second unit off the bench played some really good basketball and we needed them to.” 

Avery Crouse led the Miners with a game-high 14 points. Destiny Thurman added 12 points while Isis Lopes chipped in with 10 points in the win. 

“The second game has made me more confident within myself,” said Lopes after back-to-back 10-point performances. “I just need to know every position, basically. I need to know all the plays.” 

“(Lopes is) going to have great games,” said Baker. “She’s just now getting her feet wet. Isis [Lopes] is one of these players, the longer she plays, the better she’s going to play.”

As part of the league’s effort to limit travel, teams will play back-to-backs against the same opponent, meaning, UTEP will play Southern Miss again on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.

“Of course, everyone would like to have a day off in-between games, but that’s not how it’s going to be this year. I think our depth will be another huge issue [for Southern Miss] tomorrow,” said Baker. “If you ask me how I feel about it, it’s pretty simple — we played well and we built momentum. Hopefully the momentum will carry over into the next game.

“It feels like AAU, back in the day, but we’re excited,” said Crouse. “We love to play games, so, we’re excited.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. MT at the Don Haskins Center. The game will air on C-USA.tv.

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