Katarina Zec tallied a season-high tying 19 points to pace a quartet of Miners in double figures but high-flying LA Tech toppled UTEP, 74-64, at the Don Haskins Center Thursday.
Kierra Anthony overcame foul problems to pour in 30 points in 28 minutes to lead the way for the Lady Techsters (14-11, 6-6 C-USA). The injury-riddled Miners (6-19, 3-9 C-USA) dressed only seven players for the sixth straight contest, and finished with five after two fouled out in the final minute.
UTEP easily controlled the boards (39-25) and shot a solid 44.4 percent (25-54), but LA Tech was even better on offense by nailing 48.1 percent (26-54) while also converting 21 UTEP giveaways into 18 points.
Ariana Taylor (13 points), Jordan Alexander (13 points) and Zuzanna Puc (10 points) joined Zec in double figures for scoring. Puc flirted with a double-double with nine boards while Alexander also got after it on glass by pulling down seven caroms. Alexander also dished out a team best and career-high tying five assists.
“I thought we did a lot of the things we wanted to do, but we just went through a run there (in the third quarter) where we didn’t hit the easy shots when we had them,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “It just really affected the whole complexion of the rest of the game. I’m disappointed that we lost, but in terms of what we were trying to do out there we did it.”
Grayson Bright (14 points), Brianna Harris (10 points) and Raizel Guinto (10 points) buoyed the efforts of Anthony, but she did the heavy lifting. It was especially apparent late, when Anthony scored 14 of her team’s 16 points in the fourth quarter to nearly match UTEP’s team output (15 points) in the frame.
UTEP came out firing, jumping out to a 11-5 advantage just three minutes into the game. Taylor was instrumental in the stretch, nailing a couple of triples. LA Tech countered with a 5-0 run to cut the Miner lead to one (11-10) midway through the frame. It was back-and-forth the rest of the quarter, with a late lay-up from Zec off a feed by Alexander giving the Miners a 23-22 advantage through 10 minutes of action.
Turnovers and some misfires hurt the Orange and Blue in the opening parts of the second quarter, which allowed the Lady Techsters to peel off eight straight points to start the frame. The deficit remained seven (37-30) with 3:31 to play in the half before UTEP, taking advantage of both Anthony and Amber Dixon being stuck on the bench with foul trouble, did well go narrow the gap. The Miners pitched a shutout the rest of the period while getting a jumper from Alexander and a triple by Zec to whittle the margin down to two (37-35) heading into halftime.
The Orange and Blue continued to hang around, trailing by just three (46-43) halfway through the third quarter. LA Tech found another level, though, ripping off 10 straight points over the next two minutes to suddenly vault ahead by 13. UTEP misfired on a shot and committed two turnovers in the stretch, which included a rare four-point play for the visitors. The Miners tried to regroup, whittling the deficit down to nine (58-49) heading to the fourth quarter but the damage had been done. UTEP continued to battle as the half wore on, but could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
UTEP will continue its three-game homestand when it locks up against Southern Miss in the pink “Play4Kay” game for breast cancer awareness at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. Ticket prices are $3 for youth and $5 for adults, and are available by calling 747-5234. The Miners will then wrap up the stay in El Paso by challenging UTSA (1 p.m., Feb. 23). Admission is free for the celebration with “National Girls and Women in Sports Day” against the Roadrunners.