RUSTON, La. – The UTEP women’s basketball team wrapped up a 25-3 run around halftime to take control of the game before holding off a furious rally in an exhilarating 72-65 win at Louisiana Tech Saturday evening.
It was a back-and-forth contest early on, with four lead changes and nine ties during the first 13 minutes of action alone. The Lady Techsters (13-12, 8-6 C-USA) led 19-17 with 7:17 to play in the second quarter before the Miners (23-2, 14-1 C-USA) started to find a rhythm at both ends of the court.
UTEP closed the half on a 13-3 push to carry a 30-22 cushion into halftime before peeling off the first 12 points of the third quarter to rip the game wide open. The margin swelled to as many as 22 (61-39) with 8:12 to play in the game before LA Tech finally made a run.
The home side put together a 24-6 run over the next 6:45 to trim the Miner advantage to four (67-63) with 40 seconds left but UTEP kept its composure on the way to securing its fifth consecutive win. It is the first home league setback on the season for LA Tech, which also slips to 190-27 all time in conference games at the historic Thomas Assembly Center.
Jenzel Nash poured in 24 points to go along with nine rebounds to lead the way but she was far from alone. Starr Breedlove (15 points, seven assists), Lawna Kennedy (10 points) andChrishauna Parker (nine points, five rebounds) also got things going to help propel the Miners to their fifth consecutive win.
UTEP also keeps atop the Conference USA standings at 14-1 in league play, with Middle Tennessee (11-2) and WKU (11-3) in second and third place, respectively.
“I thought it was a very hard-fought and spirited game,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Both teams really competed. We have a lot of respect for LA Tech, they have a lot of talent. They made a hard, hard run at us. It’s a great win for us. I thought we played well for the majority of the game and I’m very proud of our team.”
The Miners shot a crisp 43.6 percent (24-55) from the floor while also taking care of business at the free-throw line (23-28, 82.1 percent) and winning the boards (41-35). UTEP kept LA Tech to 39.7 percent (25-63), which was helped by a readout of 24.2 percent (8-33) during the first 20 minutes of action.
Brandi Wingate tallied 21 points while also grabbing nine rebounds to lead the way for LA Tech. Reauna Cleaver, Ashley Santos and Kierra Anthony buoyed her with 12 points but no one else on the squad had more than six.
UTEP returns to the friendly confines of the Don Haskins Center to open up its final home stand of the 2015-16 season with a match-up against Old Dominion at 7:05 p.m. MT Thursday. All fans who wear pink will receive $2 admission as part of the celebration to raise awareness in the battle against breast cancer.