Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post
Teal Battle tallied her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds but Charlotte pulled away late to top UTEP 71-59 on Thursday night in the Don Haskins Center.
Trailing 53-49 to start the fourth quarter, the 49ers (5-6, 1-0 Conference USA) outscored the Miners (9-4, 1-2 Conference USA) 22-6 over the final 10 minutes, including a 10-1 run over the final 3:28 of the game.
Prior to the late Charlotte surge, Katia Gallegos had connected on a jumper to bring UTEP within one possession at 61-58. The run started with a pair of free throws from Octavia Jett-Wilson, who would finish with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the floor. The 49ers then converted on a wild looping shot from the right-side of the lane by Jada McMillian to extend the lead to seven. A trio of free throws and a Mikayla Boykin triple would secure the win.
Playing without a pair of pieces against the C-USA preseason favorite, including Elina Arike, the Miners battled all night to stay right in the thick of things.
“We were up in the fourth and ran out of gas,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “We started turning the ball over and missing shots – really no execution at all in the fourth quarter. On the flip side, I thought Charlotte executed really well in the fourth quarter. They isolated Katia twice, and I thought they did a really good job down the stretch of doing what they needed to do to win when we weren’t playing well. I felt pretty good when we had built the lead – I felt pretty strongly about it – and I just kind of watched our team gas out.”
Multiple important baskets from Adhel Tac and a Destiny Thurman step-back 18-footer kept UTEP within three at 25-22 to end the first quarter.
In the second, Thurman had a major impact in quick succession, converting a layup to bring the Miners within two. She would then perfectly execute a bounce pass to Erin Wilson on the interior for the easy points before finishing off the sequence with a 3-pointer to give UTEP a 31-29 lead with 8:22 left before the break.
Neither team would connect on a field goal over the final 4:16 of the half as the 49ers took a 35-34 lead into the break.
UTEP outscored Charlotte 19-14 in the third quarter, highlighted by a Battle 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish off a 6-0 run.
Thurman joined Battle in double-digits for the night with 12 points, four assists and a pair of rebounds. The four assists tied a career high.
Katia Gallegos swatted two shots for a new season high.
Charlotte went 26-of-58 (45 percent) from the floor and 6-of-17 (35 percent) from the perimeter. UTEP shot 21-of-56 (38 percent) overall and 4-of-19 (21 percent) from outside.
UTEP hosts Old Dominion on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners and Monarchs can be heard on the UTEP Miners app with Mando Medina calling the action. The contest will also be streamed on CUSA.tv.