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UTEP drops opening contest to Kansas State, 72-43, in Puerto Vallarta

SeniorJohni Welles scored a career-best 13 points while sophomoreSparkle Taylor had 11 points but the UTEP basketball team was dealt a 72-43 defeat by Big 12 member Kansas State in its opening contest of the 2014 Hardwood Tournament of Hope.

The Miners (2-2) dug themselves a 28-point halftime deficit (43-15) before playing with much better energy and effort in the second half against the Wildcats (4-0) but it proved to be a moot point. UTEP was plagued by an off shooting night, finishing at 26.9 percent (18-of-67) from the floor.

KSU seemingly couldn’t miss, connecting on 50.0 percent (25-of-50) of its shots, aided by a readout of 57.1 percent (16-of-28) in the initial stanza.

Rebounds (47-37) were in favor of the Wildcats, who were led by Ashia Woods’s double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds). Breanna Lewis (14 points), Haley Texada (14 points) and Bri Craig (13 points) also got after it for KSU, which managed to post the wire-to-wire victory. No other player for KSU had more than five points but it prove indifferent thanks to the efforts of the quartet.

The Miners did a good job with possession, committing just 13 turnovers while forcing the Wildcats into 20. But on this day at least, shots just wouldn’t fall for the Orange and Blue. The Miners hit 6-of-33 (18.2 percent) from the floor during the aforementioned decisive opening half. UTEP was sharper in the second half by knocking down 12-of-34 (35.3 percent), which allowed it to be competitive over the final 20 minutes of action, but by then the damage had been done.

JuniorCameasha Turnerscored seven points and recorded five rebounds to buoy Welles and Taylor. Taylor and juniorLawna Kennedyeach finished with seven boards to share the team lead for the Miners.

Kansas State tallied the first five points of the contest before Welles got UTEP on the board with a lay-up. After Texada hit a triple, one of nine for the Wildcats in the contest, Turner made a driving lay-up to make it 8-4 with 16:12 to play in the first half. KSU had an answer, though, in the form of 7-0 run.

UTEP battled back, once again trimming the deficit down to seven (20-13), with 11:03 left in the half. The Wildcats, as was the case throughout the tilt, were ready to counter. This time it was a 13-0 run, and UTEP was never able to get back into the game. The deficit was 28 by halftime but a better effort over the final 20 minutes prevented it from increasing to more than 30.

The Miners will have to put this contest behind them quickly, as they will square up with SEC power LSU at 1:30 p.m. MST Wednesday.

Source: UTEP Athletics

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