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Miners looking for second win at NMSU

Published: Monday, November 14, 2011

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

With one game under their belt, UTEP will take on NMSU Nov. 16 at the Pan American Center.

"Those are always fun games and have been really competitive," head coach Keitha Adams said. "We've had some really good matchups and some good games, no question. Fans love it; it's always fun."

The Miners have lost four of their last five matchups against the Aggies, but won their last meeting Jan. 2, 2011 in Las Cruces to snap a four-game skid to NMSU. The Aggies took the first game 80-75 in overtime Nov. 17, 2010 in El Paso.

Under new head coach Mark Trakh, NMSU is led by 6-foot 1-inch senior forward Tabytha Wambler who had 21 points and 18 rebounds in their season-opening, 63-62 victory Nov. 11 at Houston. Wambler was a thorn in UTEP's side last season, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds in their win and 12 points, 10 rebounds in their loss.

"They play extremely hard and (Wambler) went to work. That was a great win for them to start the season off," Adams said. "We're going to have to play really hard, we're going to have to play really good defense and we're going to have to do a really good job rebounding."

To combat her, UTEP has 6-foot 2-inch senior forward Gloria Brown who led UTEP in their first victory of the season with a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. Last season, Brown had 20 points and seven boards in the loss to NMSU, but just two points and one rebound in the victory.

In their first game of the 2011-12 season, UTEP had to regroup at halftime to come back from a 12-point deficit to defeat the Idaho State Bengals 79-63 Nov. 12 at the Don Haskins Center.

"The second half I got in a groove. We all started playing good," Brown said. "We just mainly started getting physical with them because they were physical with us."

Trailing 35-26 at the half, the Miners opened the second with a 17-2 run off a free throw by junior guard Melisa Mendes. Mendes sparked the run with a three to start the half and had seven of her 12 total points during that span.

After four-consecutive free throws by Idaho State that cut the Miner lead to 50-47, UTEP went on a 10-2 run with all 10 points coming from freshman guard Chrishauna Parker and sophomore forward Kayla Thornton.

"What we had planned wasn't really executed and what she told us on practice, we weren't doing it," Thornton said. "It came to a sense of urgency that we had to pick it up or we would not have won the game."

The Miner lead was extended to 14 points on several occasions, the first coming off a three by senior guard Kim Smith with 3:30 to go. UTEP went 4-of-11 from three-point range, as compared to Idaho State who went 0-for-11 from the perimeter.

The first half went in the Bengals' direction almost from the start. After going down 7-6, Idaho State went on a 19-6 run to give them their largest lead of the game. The Miners were able to cut the deficit down to four at 25-21 when junior forward Kristine Vitola hit a layup but the Bengals closed the half on a 10-5 run to give them the nine point advantage.

UTEP will also face Houston Baptist at 7:05 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Don Haskins Center.

William Vega may be reached at

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