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UTEP Women's Basketball Defeats SMU

In one of their toughest tests of the season so far, the UTEP Women's Basketball team came out victorious with a close 76-71 win over the SMU Mustangs.

Al Carrillo, AC Photo

The UTEP Miners had trouble closing out  the last six minutes of the night because of fouls committed by both teams. In a battle over possession, SMU had 43 total fouls in the second half, while UTEP had 41. Twenty of these fouls, eight by UTEP and twelve by SMU, prolonged the last minutes of the game. On SMU's part, some of them were intentional as they looked to get the ball back in hopes of getting more scoring opportunities.

The Mustang's strategy worked, somewhat, by cutting the UTEP women's lead to single digits, but it was not successful in stopping them. The UTEP Miners finished the game with a 76-71 win.

At the start of the first half, SMU opened up strong on offense. They got on the board first with a layup for two by senior guard Keena Mays to take the opening lead. Kristine Vitola answered for UTEP with a layup of her own to tie the score.

Almost nine minutes into the game, SMU had a 14-7 advantage over the Miners. Mays and forward Akil Simpson were huge first-half contributors for the Mustangs, as they combined for 12 points up to this point in the game. With 11:53 remaining in the first half, SMU was shooting 46%, while UTEP was shooting a mere 25%.

However, on the other hand, UTEP got off to a slow start, especially on defense. The Miners trailed the Mustangs until six minutes left in the first half, when they got their first lead of the game with a one-point advantage over SMU. Jenzel Nash and Kristine Vitola teamed up to close in on SMU's lead when finally Nash sealed the deal with a three-pointer to make the score 23-21 UTEP.

Sparkle Taylor was subbed in for Nash with 30 seconds left after two good free throw shots by Mays. With a UTEP ball, Taylor missed a jump shot that was rebounded by Vitola who then assisted Taylor in a three-point buzzer beater to close the first half.

At the half, UTEP lead SMU 35-28, but it did not come easily. They started off slowly and allowed 18 points by Keena Mays who is a huge shooter for the Mustangs and who is the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the second straight week.

UTEP ended the first half shooting 42% in field goals and 70% in free throws, while SMU shot for 37% in field goals and 70% in free throws. UTEP had also picked up on defense as the first half went on and ended the half with 20 rebounds, 13 of them defensive.

After halftime, Stacie Telles opened up UTEP's scoring with a three-pointer to give UTEP a ten-point lead. Mays followed up Telles with a layup, making the score 38-30 with UTEP still in the lead.

For the next five minutes, SMU would only score on free throws, until Mays, once again, added two points with a layup.

Although, the Mustangs would not catch a lead for the rest of the game with UTEP in the driver's seat.

Even though UTEP didn't trail the rest of the game, they began to slow down and look tired with 15 turnovers and with Stacie Telles and Cameasha Turner each fouling out.

In the second half, SMU shot for 43% and 56% from the line, while UTEP dropped its shooting percentage from the first half down to 30% in field goals and 67% from the line.

Jenzel Nash had a huge run in the second half of the night where she scored 8 points and 3 for 4 in free throws. She helped a lot on defense with 4 rebounds and 1 turnover.

However, Chrishauna Parker stole the night with a phenomenal 15 total rebounds and shooting 10 for 12 in free throws. She also had four assists.

With this huge win over a great team, the Miners are off to their second best start in school history. They will go for their ninth win as they take on Southeastern Louisiana at home on December 15th.