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Home | Tag Archives: Sparkle Taylor

Tag Archives: Sparkle Taylor

‘Sparkle’ Shines as Miners Stomp FIU 88-47

The UTEP women’s basketball team stormed out to a 28-9 first-quarter lead and never looked back on the way to posting a resounding 88-47 victory over Florida International to send Sparkle Taylor out in style on “Senior Day” Saturday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center.

The 41-point margin of victory is the second biggest in a conference game in program history.

The Miners (8-20, 5-11 C-USA) have won back-to-back games for the first time this year while the Panthers (5-22, 3-13 C-USA) were dealt their eighth consecutive loss. UTEP led 44-25 at the half and any aspirations the visitors had of mounting a second-half comeback when the Orange and Blue ripped off 20 straight points over the first five-plus minutes of the third quarter.

Taylor poured in a game-high 23 points to go along with seven rebounds and career-best tying five assists in a fitting final home performance for her career. Katarina Zec (career-high 13 points), (Tamara Seda (15 points, six rebounds) and Najala Howell (13 points, eight boards) also hit double figures for the Orange and Blue.

With the victory the Miners move into 11th place in the league standings, putting them on the verge of clinching a bid to the 2017 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Championships presented by MetroPCS (March 8-11). The last two spots (field of 12) are still up for grabs between UTEP (5-11 C-USA), Marshall (4-12 C-USA) and FIU (3-13 C-USA) but the Miners are in the driver’s seat.

“We are a young club but I’m very, very proud of our team and very happy for our players today,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We’ve been through a lot. I’m really proud of how we’re still a team and have stayed together. We are competing and we have gotten better.”

UTEP drilled 44.9 percent (31-69) from the field, including a ridiculous 61.1 percent (11-18) during the huge third quarter (31-8). The 31 points in that frame tied as the third-most ever by the Miners in a quarter.

FIU finished at 36.5 percent (19-52) from the floor, which was hurt by going 0-10 from three-point range. The visitors also made 17 turnovers-compared to a season-low nine by UTEP- which lead to a 28-7 advantage for the Miners in points off turnovers. Janka Hegedus (16 points, six rebounds) was a bright spot for the Panthers.

The two sides traded scores in the early stages game, and UTEP led by two (8-6) with 6:57 to play in the opening frame. But much to the dismay of the Panthers, the Miners found another gear. UTEP unleashed a 20-3 run, including 16 straight at one point, to secure a dominating 19-point lead (28-9) after 10 minutes of action.

Taylor (eight points), Seda (six points) and Zec (five points) were instrumental in the quality first period, but not to be overlooked was the defensive effort by the Orange and Blue. FIU was held without a field goal for the final five-plus minutes of the frame.

To its credit FIU regrouped to play to-toe-toe with the Orange and Blue in a 16-16 second quarter. The visitors were unable to sustain that effort in the third quarter, with UTEP firing on all cylinders. The Miners fired off nine straight to start the frame and force an FIU timeout, but it proved to be ineffective. After the break in action UTEP scored the game’s next 11 points to account for the 20-0 run to seal FIU’s fate.

Adams was able to share the wealth with playing time, with all 12 Miners earning at least six minutes of playing time. Freshman Faith Cook contributed a game-high tying five assists and a career-best three steals while fellow classmate Jakeira Ford pitched in eight points and two boards. Lulu McKinney tallied six points and was credited with four assists while Zuzanna Puc had four points and six rebounds.

UTEP will look to keep things going when it returns to action at  Old Dominion at 5 p.m. MST/7 p.m. EST Thursday. Brandon Cohn will have the call for 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio.

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H-P Sports In Depth: Miners Complete Homestand with ‘Senior Day’ Saturday vs FIU

UTEP (7-20, 4-11 C-USA) will look to send out Sparkle Taylor in style when it plays host to FIU (5-21, 4-11 C-USA) on “Senior Day” at 2 p.m. MST Saturday.

Taylor, who will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony, has had a sensational career. She was the 2016 C-USA Sixth Player of the Year for the regular-season champion Miners. She also helped UTEP earn runner-up honors at the 2014 WNIT and advance to the quarterfinals in 2016. Taylor has been a prolific scorer, with her 1,264 career points ranking third all time at UTEP.

She will also finish with top-10 career rankings at the school for field goals made, attempted and percentage, free throws made and games played.

The Miners are aiming to stay perfect at home against FIU (3-0 all time) while also avenging a heartbreaking, 88-87, triple-overtime loss on a 35+foot 3-point buzzer-beating heave in Miami on Jan. 12, 2017.

After playing four straight league road games, UTEP is poised to cap a stretch of four consecutive conference home contests. The 2005-06 season, the Miners’ first in C-USA, was the last time that had occurred.

The Miners regained their winning ways by toppling Florida Atlantic, 69-59, on Thursday while the Panthers were dealt their seventh consecutive loss (L, 69-55, at UTSA). It was also the 10th setback in 11 contests for FIU.

A good result against FIU would help UTEP take a big step closer toward qualifying for the 2017 C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS. (March 8-11, Birmingham, Ala.). The Miners are tied for 11th in the league standings with Marshall but FIU (3-12) is one game back. The top-12 squads qualify.

The Orange and Blue are vying for back-to-back wins for the first time this season, UTEP is 6-8 at home (3-5 C-USA while FIU is 1-9 on the road (1-7 C-USA).

Duke Keith (play-by-play) and Traci Miller (color commentary) will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. There will be a live stream on UTEPAthletics (subscription based). Fans can also stay up-to-date by following the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Panthers (@FIUWBB) on Twitter.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for kids.

THIS AND THAT ON CONFERENCE USA

–  Teams play all 13 members at least once and face five teams in home-and-home for 18-game C-USA slate.

–  The top 12 teams (14 in C-USA) will qualify for the single-elimination C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS (March 8-11, Birmingham, Ala.-UAB) with the top four teams as seeded by regular season standings receiving a bye. The winner will gain the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

–  WKU (13-2), Middle Tennessee (12-3), Southern Miss (11-5), Louisiana Tech (11-5), Old Dominion (10-5), Charlotte (9-6) UTSA (8-7), North Texas (8-7), Rice (7-8) and UAB (6-9) have all locked up a bid to the C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS.

–  Marshall (4-11), UTEP (4-11) and FIU (3-12) are fighting over the final two spots. FAU (0-15) is eliminated.

 INSIDE THE SERIES (UTEP LEADS, 4-2 OVERALL; UTEP LEADS, 3-0 IN EL PASO)

–  The Miners lead the series, 4-2, including 4-1 since FIU joined Conference USA.

–  FIU used a 35+foot 3-point buzzer-beating heave to down UTEP, 88-87, in triple overtime in Miami on Jan. 12, 2017. It was longest game in program history, and FIU’s first win vs. UTEP as a C-USA member.

–  This is the second straight season that UTEP and FIU are playing a home-and-home series.

–  Last year UTEP swept the series, winning in Miami (69-57, 1/23/16) in later in El Paso (70-52, 2/11/16).

–  UTEP has won the prior three meetings with the programs in El Paso, each by double digits.

–  FIU downed UTEP, 82-38, in a neutral-site tilt back on Nov. 27, 1998.

GETTING TO KNOW FIU – Overall: 5-21 | Home: 4-12 Road: 1-9    Neutral: 0-0  ? C-USA: 3-12   Home: 2-5   Road: 1-7

–  FIU is under the direction of first-year head coach Tiara Malcolm; she was an assistant coach in 2015-16 before serving as the acting head coach for the final four games of the year.

–  FIU has the second-youngest coaching staff in the country; only McNeese State (109 years) has a combined age younger than FIU (115).

–  Saddled with a start of 2-11, including 0-2 in C-USA play, before posting back-to-back victories. Included in that winning streak was the wild triple-overtime thriller to topple the Miners, 88-87, on Jan. 12.

–  The Panthers have been unable to sustain the momentum from that surge; they have dropped seven straight and 10 of 11 contests. The lone win during that stretch came at Florida Atlantic (65-60, Jan. 26).

–  FIU in sixth in Conference USA in free-throw shooting (69.5) and eighth in turnovers forced/game (15.5).

–  FIU is last in the league for field-goal percentage (36.8), field-goal percentage defense (44.3), rebounds/game (31.7), rebound margin (-10.7), scoring offense (55.8), scoring defense (74.6) and scoring margin (-18.8).

–  Among C-USA players Kristian Hudson is seventh in assists/game (4.5), tied ninth in steals/game (1.8), 11th in free-throw percentage (77.1), 14th in defensive boards/game (4.1) and 19th in scoring (12.7),

–  Jenka Hegedus is 30th in C-USA for scoring (10.4).

–  Alexis Gordon is tied for seventh in 3-pointers made/game (2.2)

–  FIU was founded in 1965 but it has grown to the fourth-largest school (enrollment 56,000) in nation.

–  Notable alumni include Andy Garcia (actor) and Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River.

LAST MEETING WITH FIU: at FIU 88, UTEP 87 (1/12/17)

–  Sparkle Taylor drilled a jumper with about three seconds remaining in triple overtime to put UTEP up, 87-85, but FIU’s Kristian Hudson’s desperation heave from about 35 feet went as time expired to sink the Miners, 88-87, in longest game in program history at Lime Court at FIU Arena on Jan. 12, 2017.

–  Taylor paced the Miners with 21 points, but FIU pulled out a miraculous win thanks to Hudson (35 points) and company.

–  Tamara Seda (14 points, 13 rebounds), Najala Howell (19 points), Katarina Zec (10 points), Lulu McKinney (nine points, nine assists) and Zuzanna Puc (eight points, six boards) made quality contributions.

–  UTEP played ahead for 40 of 55 minutes; the game featured 15 lead changes and 13 ties.

–  The Miners set then season highs for free throws made (25) and attempted (32), with Taylor going 9-9.

GOING BACK IN TIME: UTEP 69, Florida Atlantic 59 (2/23/17)

–  Sparkle Taylor (22 points) paced a quartet of Miners in double figures, and UTEP regained its winning ways with a 69-59 conquest of Florida Atlantic on its “Play 4 Kay” night on Feb. 23.

–  The Owls used a barrage of 3-pointers to surge out by 10 (22-12, 00:34 first quarter) but the Miners didn’t flinch. UTEP clamped down defensively, holding FAU to 1-18 shooting in the second quarter, to change the fortunes of the game with an 18-2 run to surge into the lead.

–  The Miners’ margin swelled to as many as 15 (53-38, 2:11 third quarter), and they remained up by 10 (62-52) with 6:27to play. FAU, which entered the game having lost 15 straight and 19 of its past 20, showed off its tremendous heart and spirit by fighting back to within three (62-59, 2:47 fourth quarter) but UTEP got some stops, a Taylor turnaround jumper and free throws to ice the contest.

–  Taylor’s 22 points lift her career total to 1,264, vaulting her to third on the Miners’ career charts.

–  Tamara Seda (13 points), Najala Howell and Katarina Zec (10 points) joined Taylor in double figures while Zuzanna Puc pitched in seven points. The Miners won the boards, 45-36, thanks to Puc’s career-high tying 12 rebounds. Taylor (nine) and Seda (eight) also got after it on the glass. Puc also matched her personal best in blocks (two) to help UTEP accumulate seven rejections.

–  The Miners connected on 41.7 percentage from the floor (25-60), including a sizzling 62.5 percent (10-16) during a huge third quarter (26 points). They took good care of the ball (14 turnovers) and pounded FAU down low with a 38-22 advantage in points in the paint and 18-4 cushion in second-chance points.

–  The Miners have a +2.4 scoring margin (70.7-68.4) and a +5.5 rebounding margin (43.6-37.8) in their 14 home games (6-8) this year. Five of those six victories have been by double digits.

UTEP’s Taylor Tabbed C-USA Player of the Week

IRVING, Texas- After a historic performance UTEP senior guard Sparkle Taylor has been voted as the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, it was revealed by the league office Monday morning.

Taylor scored 34 points against both North Texas (2/16) and Rice (2/18) to become the first player in program history to post back-to-back 30+ point games.

“Sparkle is a great young lady whom I’ve enjoyed coaching these four years,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I’m happy for her to receive this honor.”

Taylor accumulated 68 points (34.0 points/game) on a combined 65.7 percent (23-35) shooting from the floor and 80.8 percent (21-26) at the charity stripe. She also nailed her only 3-point attempt, which was just her second make from beyond-the-arc this year.

Taylor drilled better than 63 percent from the field in both of the games while connecting on at least 75 percent at the free-throw line in each contest as well. The Flint, Mich., native also got after it on the glass by averaging 9.0 rebounds. She had seven boards against North Texas while snaring 11 against Rice for her third double-double this season.

Taylor set the tone for the week with a career-high 34 points against North Texas (2/16). It was the most points by a Miner in a league game in 26 years (Holly Russ, 35 vs. San Diego State-1/19/91) and tied as the sixth-highest scoring output in program history.

She sunk 11-16 from the floor while also setting career bests for free throws made (12) and attempted (16). The 12 makes tie for eighth most at UTEP while the 16 attempts earned her a share of 10th.

Taylor was especially effective in the third quarter, scoring 13 of UTEP’s 18 points in the frame. That tied as the fourth-most points by a Miner in a quarter. She now has four quarters with 13+ points, the most by any Miner in the four-quarter format era (started 2015-16).

Just two days later and against the top-defensive team in C-USA-Rice entered the game ranked first in the league in scoring defense (58.8) and second in field-goal percentage defense (37.9)- Taylor did it again.  She set the tone early by tallying 10 points and continued to pile them up as the contest progressed.

She drilled 12-19 from the field, including 1-1 from distance, while making 9-10 at the free-throw line. Taylor also had the big rebounding day with the aforementioned 11 boards.

Taylor and the rest of the Miners will return to action with the final homestand of the season. Florida Atlantic will serve as the opponent for UTEP’s annual “Play 4 Kay” game at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday. In an effort to raise the awareness for the battle against breast cancer, all fans who will free will get in free. The Miners will then look to send Taylor out in style on “Senior Day” against FIU at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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North Texas Spoils Taylor’s Career Night, Mean Green top Miners 76-69

Senior Sparkle Taylor erupted for a career-high 34 points (tied for sixth most all time at UTEP) but visiting North Texas used a strong effort on the glass and a balanced attack to hand UTEP a 76-69 setback at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.

Terriell Bradly (18 points, seven boards), Terra Ellison (14 points, five boards) and Tyara Warren (12 points) led the way for the Mean Green (10-14, 7-6 C-USA), who also won the boards, 37-26. The Miners (6-19, 3-10 C-USA) had the huge night from Taylor while also forcing 21 turnovers, which led to 18 points, but it wasn’t enough.

Taylor drilled 11-16 from the floor while setting career highs in both free throws made (12) and attempted (16) before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Tamara Seda (nine points, five rebounds), Najala Howell (seven points, three rebounds) and Lulu McKinney (five points, four assists, four steals) contributed for the Orange and Blue as well.

UNT nailed 45.1 percent (23-51) from the floor, including 44.4 percent (8-18) from beyond-the-arc. The Miners drilled 40.4 percent (21-52) of their shots, in addition to securing plenty of trips to the free throw line. UTEP nailed 25-35 at the charity stripe; it tied as the most makes on the line this year while setting a season high for attempts.

“It was a disappointing loss,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We make things difficult on ourselves. It’s a struggle but we’ve got to have short-term memory. We have to forget about this and get ready for a good Rice team. I feel bad for the kids and wish we could have flipped the script tonight. We need a win. We will learn from it and continue to move forward.”

Fans filled into the Don Haskins Center to see their Miners for the first time since January 28th. The home side was spurred on by the support, bolting out to a 24-16 advantage through 10 minutes of action. UTEP got to the free throw line right away, scoring 10 of its 24 points at the stripe. Taylor led the way with seven points in the frame.

Unfortunately as it has been throughout the entire season, the second quarter was a struggle for the Orange and Blue. They allowed 26 points while scoring 16. UNT’s passed allowed it to bury easy looks; Ellison scored 14 in the quarter alone. The Miners dealt with a scoring drought later in the quarter, but Taylor hit back-to-back jumpers late in the frame to bring them within two at halftime (42-40).

The “Sparkle Taylor” show was back in action during the third quarter with the guard tallying 13 of the Miners’ 18 points in the frame. It tied as the fourth-most points in a quarter by a Miner. North Texas continued to push the pace, though, matching the Miners in the quarter.

Taylor continued her onslaught in the fourth quarter but her night came to a close with the unfortunate foul trouble. After her exit North Texas was able to hold on by taking care of business at the free throw line. UNT excelled, missing only five free throws all night.

The Miners will continue their four-game homestand-their longest in 11 years– when they play host to Rice at 2 p.m.Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for kids, but all military members will get in free with their ID.

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UTEP Falls At Southern Miss 73-48

HATTIESBURG, Miss. Sparkle Taylor (16 points) and Jakeira Ford (career-high tying 13 points) both reached double figures in scoring but turnovers and a tough day on the boards added up to a 73-48 setback at Southern Miss Saturday afternoon.

The Miners (6-18, 3-9 C-USA) trailed by just two (31-29) with 2:03 to play in the first half before the Lady Eagles (16-9, 8-5 C-USA) scored eight straight to enter the locker room up by 10 (39-29). USM continued the surge in the second half, tallying 11 in a row. The 19-0 run wrapped around halftime put UTEP in a big hole from which they could never recover.

UTEP (19-52, 36.5) shot a comparable percentage to USM (26-66, 39.4) but aspirations of securing its fourth consecutive win in a visit to Reed Green Coliseum were dashed as result of turnovers and rebounding. Southern Miss, which leads C-USA and is 7th nationally for turnovers forced/game, harassed the Miners into making 26 giveaways (led to 23 points). USM also controlled the boards (48-31), aided by securing 25 offensive rebounds. The 25 offensive rebounds tie as the most by an opponent in the Keitha Adams era; UCF also did so on Feb. 19, 2009.

Brittany Dinkins (26 points), Jayla King (13 points, seven boards) and Lashyra Cotton (seven points, 12 rebounds) led the way for USM.

“It was an extremely tough game today,” Adams said. “That’s two games in a row that we got dominated on the boards and the opposing team just outplayed us and played much harder than we did. Lack of heart, lack of rebounding. Southern Miss has a good team. They really guard people. We got some young kids that got some experience today, a lot of freshmen on floor in the second half, so that’s a positive from a negative.

“I’m embarrassed by today’s performance,” Adams said. “We’ll get home and get it corrected. It’s been a tough season and we’ve got the wind knocked out of us. But now, who are we and what are we about?”

All 12 Miners logged at least nine minutes of action, with Roeshonda Patterson (17) and Jessica Barbosa (13) both setting career highs in playing time. Adams went to a youth-laden roster in the second half, with the Miners finishing the contest with five freshmen (four true, one redshirt) on the court.

Things looked promising early on, with Taylor asserting herself extremely well in the first quarter. The senior scored 10 points in the frame to help keep the Miners in striking distance (17-14) through 10 minutes of action.

USM managed to extend its advantage to eight (26-18) early in the second quarter but the Miners dug deep and held the home side scoreless for almost four minutes to climb back within two (28-26, 3:18 2Q). The deficit remained two (31-29) as the half wound down before USM initiated that aforementioned game-changing run.

UTEP will look to put this result in the rearview mirror when it returns home to play host to North Texas at 7:05 p.m. MSTThursday. There will be free admission to the game as part of the annual National Girls & Women In Sports Day Celebration. There will also be a postgame autograph session on the concourse level.

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Heartbreak! Miners Fall In 3OT At FIU 88-87

MIAMI, Fla.- Senior Sparkle Taylor drilled a jumper with about three seconds remaining in triple overtime to put UTEP up, 87-85, but FIU’s Kristian Hudson’s desperation heave from about 35 feet went as time expired to sink the Miners, 88-87, in the first 3OT game in program history at Lime Court at FIU Arena Thursday evening.

Taylor paced the Miners (4-12, 1-3 C-USA) with her fourth straight 20+ point effort (21)-the longest such streak at the school in nine years– but the Panthers (4-11, 2-2 C-USA) pulled out a miraculous win thanks to Hudson (35 points) and company.

“We looked like we were in the driver’s seat at the end but they hit the big shot,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I feel really bad for the team because they played really hard. We just have to hang in there and stick together. It was a great game and a crazy one. A lot of things can happen out there. I’m proud of our players.”

Tamara Seda (14 points, 13 rebounds), Najala Howell (19 points), Katarina Zec (10 points), Lulu McKinney (nine points, nine assists) and Zuzanna Puc (eight points, six boards) all made quality contributions to buoy Taylor.

The game featured 15 lead changes and 13 ties, with the Miners playing from ahead for 40 of the 55 minutes. UTEP’s biggest advantage was 13 (56-43, 1:00 3Q) but the feisty FIU squad refused to quit. The Panthers put together a 13-1 run to trim the UTEP cushion to one (57-56, 2:334Q) before a jumper by Taylor and McKinney’s steal and score seemingly reinstated order.

The home side had other ideas, tallying back-to-back scores to get within one. McKinney split two free throws with 11 seconds left only to have FIU get a lay-up from Janka Hegedus (10 points) to send it to OT. The Panthers carried that momentum into the first extra session, with Tianah Alvarado (21 points) nailing a triple to put her side up, 65-62.

McKinney (two free throws) and a Seda lay-up reinstated the Miners’ lead (66-65) but Alexis Gordon (15 points) nailed a trey. After UTEP misfired at the other end, Hudson was fouled. She split the pair to put the Miners down three again (69-66) before Howell took over. The sophomore splashed home a step-back triple to beat the shot clock before converting on a lay-up off a steal. FIU tied it with free throws from Hudson. The Miners pulled ahead by two twice, but both times FIU had an answer, to force double OT.

In the second OT FIU raced out to a four-point lead (79-75), its largest advantage of the tilt, before the Miners scored the next four points at the free-throw line. Defense dominated the rest of the stanza, sending the game to a third-and as it turned out-final OT.

UTEP struck first thanks to Taylor before a Gordon triple. Jumpers by Taylor and Howell put the Miners up three (85-82) but Gordon came through again with a clutch trey. The score remained tied, 85-85, until Taylor’s shot silenced the crowd. Unfortunately for the Orange and Blue faithful it was short-lived, with Hudson somehow managing to sink the game-winning triple.

UTEP will wrap up its stay in the “Sunshine State,” by playing at Florida Atlantic 3 p.m. MST/5 p.m. EST Saturday. Tim Hagerty will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso.

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Miners Down Louisiana Tech 69-62

Senior Sparkle Taylor poured in 25 points to join UTEP’s 1,000- point club (1,010) and the Miners stifled Louisiana Tech defensively in a 69-62 victory at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.

The Miners (4-10, 1-1 C-USA) held the Lady Techsters (6-7, 1-1 C-USA) to 27.4 percent (17-62) from the floor, their second-lowest percentage of the year (25.7 percent vs. Nichols State), while also winning the rebounding battle decisively (51-40).

Tamara Seda pulled down a game-high 14 boards to lead the charge on the glass while Najala Howell (14 points, career-high six assists) and Lulu McKinney (14 points, five assists) also made key contributions.

“We just played hard and we’re fortunate to get the win,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I thought our defense was tremendous tonight. The rebounding was the key; when you rebound the ball, good things happen. We are going to enjoy this one tonight and then tomorrow start to get ready for Southern Miss.”

While Taylor’s career scoring achievement grabbed the headlines, she also got after it on defense with four steals.

“That’s a monumental thing (1,000 career points) but what I’m really, really proud of her tonight is her defense. What a great night to get 1,000-career points, one when you also know you played your tail off on defense.”

Louisiana Tech came out firing, racing out to a 12-6 lead midway through the first quarter. Howell stopped the surge by converting all three free throws after she was fouled on a triple attempt from the left wing. That play sparked a run for the Miners, who closed out on the first quarter on a 15-6 surge to pull within one (18-17) after 10 minutes of action. Taylor was instrumental with six points in the sequence.

UTEP’s defense picked up in the second quarter, only allowing LA Tech to score 10 points while the Orange and Blue tallied 18 to take a 35-28 advantage heading into the locker room. It was also in the second quarter where Taylor hit 1000 career points on a jumper with only four seconds left in the half, a feat that only 12 other Miners have reached.

After UTEP only allowed three offensive rebounds in the first half, the Miners gave up six in the third quarter. But UTEP did enough things well in other areas, and were still able to outscore (18-15) the Lady Techsters in the quarter. Howell provided a spark off the bench with eight to help UTEP extend its lead to 10 (53-43). Katarina Zec, who had missed the prior six games with a knee injury, sent the quarter out in a style with a long triple to give UTEP that aforementioned 10-point lead.

Going into the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, the Miners continued to tack more onto their advantage. The resilient Lady Techsters stormed back and brought it back down to six (64-58) with 00:51 remaining. Feeling the loss of Taylor, who fouled out with 2:04 left in the game, the Miners looked to their defense for a final stand. The stop troops delivered and after a technical foul on LA Tech, McKinney converted on both free throws, to essentially end the game.

The Miners will wrap up their three-game homestand by playing host to Southern Miss at 2 p.m. Saturday. As part of “Superhero Saturday” first responders, medical professionals and law enforcement will receive $3 admission. All other tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for kids.

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Taylor and Miner Offense Come Alive But UTEP Falls To Alabama, 78-60

NICEVILLE, Fla.- Sparkle Taylor posted a game-high 20 points and UTEP shot its highest percentage (51.9) vs. a division I foe on the year but Alabama forced 24 turnovers and unleashed a barrage of three pointers (11-25) to post a 78-60 victory in the final game of the Patrick Harrington Classic Tuesday evening.

The Miners (2-9) dug themselves a big hole (25-13) after 10 minutes of action against the Crimson Tide (11-1) but refused to fold up shop. Alabama’s margin over the final three quarters was only +6 (53-47), with the youthful Miners battling to the final whistle. UTEP closed out the contest on a 16-4 run, with freshmen accounting for 14 points in the sequence.

UA was held to a lower percentage from the floor (44.6 percent) than the Miners but compensated by the aforementioned turnovers forced in addition to crashing the offensive glass (17 offensive rebounds). Free throws were also a factor with Alabama making 9-15 compared to UTEP’s 1-3 from the line.

Lulu McKinney (10 points) joined Taylor in double figures while Zuzanna Puc (nine points), Najala Howell (seven points) and Faith Cook (career-high tying five points) also got involved in the offense. McKinney dished out a game-high tying six assists. UTEP connected on better than 50 percent from the floor in all four quarters of action, and finished with its second-best three-point percentage (5-12, 41.7 percent) of the campaign.

Hannah Cook (19 points, four rebounds), Jordan Lewis (17 points, six assists), Shaquera Wade (14 points, seven boards) and Meoshonti Knight (10 points, six rebounds) led the way for the vaunted SEC program.

“This is the toughest non-conference schedule we’ve ever had (school-record five power conference teams), but we’re going to reap some benefits somewhere down the road” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I think the biggest positive is that our kids are still a team; they’re really being very supportive of each other. I thought we played hard tonight. We’ve been through the shredder, and it’s been very humbling and difficult. We had five freshmen on the floor at the end of the game vs. Alabama.

“There’s a lot of things that we have to get better at. We shot the ball well tonight but we had 24 turnovers. If we take better care of the basketball you’re probably right where you want to be. It irritated me that we gave up offensive rebounds at the free-throw line. We’re not aggressive or physical enough but we’ll keep working on it.”

The two sides traded scores to start the game, and it was tied at six with 6:58 to play in the first quarter. But UTEP got a bit careless with the ball, making five turnovers in the final 5:30 of the period. To its credit Alabama took advantage, ripping off a 19-7 run to close the period with a 12-point (25-13) cushion.

The momentum carried into the second quarter, with the Crimson Tide tallying the first five points of the frame to extend their advantage to 17 (30-13, 6:59 2Q). Adams called timeout, and UTEP outscored Alabama 11-7 the rest of the quarter to whittle the deficit down to 13 (37-24) at the break. Howell got things going with a soft touch on a jumper before McKinney used a long triple and a driving lay-up to help ignite the run.

UTEP continued to get after it in the third quarter, three times reducing the deficit to 11 points but it was unable to ever get it into single digits. In the final frame Alabama managed to push its lead out to as many as 30 (74-44) but the Miners stayed united as a team and continued to try to execute the game plan by Adams and her staff. The result was the 16-4 surge to close things out but it was too little too late.

UTEP will now take a break for Christmas before wrapping up non-conference play at home vs. CSU-Bakersfield with a special matinee match-up at 1 p.m. on Dec. 28 (Wednesday).

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UTEP Falls To Pitt 71-46 at Patrick Harrington Classic

NICEVILLE, Fla.- Sparkle Taylor (15 points) and Jakeira Ford (11 points, career-high nine rebounds) both reached double figures in scoring but UTEP couldn’t keep pace with ACC juggernaut Pitt in a 71-46 setback in the first game of the inaugural Patrick Harrington Classic at The Arena at NWF State College Thursday evening.

Brenna Wise (18 points, 10 rebounds), Brandi Harvey-Carr (18 points), Aysia Bugg (10 points) and Kalista Walters (10 points) led the way for the Panthers (8-3), who connected on 44.3 percent (27-61) from the floor. The Miners (2-8) finished at 32.7 percent (17-52) from the field, which was affected by going 2-18 (11.1 percent) from beyond-the-arc.

UTEP kept things competitive on the glass (41-38, Pitt) with the much larger Panthers but it was hindered by an inability to knock down shots with consistency. Tamera Seda and Ford paced the squad in rebounds with nine apiece while Zuzanna Puc secured six caroms.

“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We really struggled with our shooting and had a lot of missed opportunities. They just outplayed us. We had a horrible offensive outing, and it’s going to be very difficult if we can’t find a way to put up more points.”

Pitt took an early 6-0 lead before the teams traded scores. Taylor drained a jumper to make it 10-4 but the Panthers got four straight points to take their first double-digit advantage (14-4) of the contest. The deficit was eight (16-8) through 10 minutes of action.

The Orange and Blue got a score to start the second stanza, again from Taylor, only to have Pitt put together an 18-6 run to grab a 34-16 advantage cushion with 2:48 remaining in the half. Defense dominated over the final three minutes of the half, but UTEP still faced a 17-point deficit (37-20) heading into the locker room.

UTEP played its best period of the contest in the third quarter, going back-and-forth with the Panthers for all 10 minutes of action. Both teams compiled 19 points in the frame, allowing Pitt to maintain a 56-39 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

UTEP continued to play hard down the stretch but it was unable to get any closer. The Panthers closed out the contest on an 8-2 run.

The Orange and Blue will wrap up play at the Patrick Harrington Classic by locking up with Alabama at 6 p.m. MT/7 p.m. CST on Tuesday. Fans can listen live to Brandon Cohn on 600 ESPN El Paso. The Miners will then take a break for Christmas.

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Nash And Taylor Tabbed To C-USA Preseason Team

IRVING, Texas- UTEP women’s basketball seniors Jenzel Nash and Sparkle Taylor have been voted to the 2016-17 Conference USA Preseason Team, as announced by the league office Wednesday afternoon. Additionally the Miners were picked fifth in the annual C-USA women’s basketball preseason poll. Both the preseason team and poll were voted upon by the league’s 14 head coaches.

Western Kentucky, which along with UTEP advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2016 WNIT, was voted first in the poll. The Lady Toppers will be led by preseason Player of the Year Kendall Noble.

Defending C-USA tournament champion Middle Tennessee placed second with Old Dominion (third), Charlotte (fourth) and UTEP (fifth) rounding out the top five.

Nash, a 2016 All C-USA first-team honoree, led the regular-season league champion Miners in points/game (13.8) while rating second on the squad in assists/game (2.8), rebounds/game (5.6-20th C-USA), steals/game (2.8-second C-USA/18th nation) and third in free-throw percentage (.714-13th C-USA/246th nation. She reached double figures in scoring a team-high tying 25 games while recording at least three steals in 20 contests.

Taylor, the 2016 C-USA Sixth Player of the Year, put up 9.8 points/game in only 17.3 minutes/game. She nailed 47.2 percent (126-267) of her shots from the floor to place second on the squad in field-goal percentage.

Taylor was the top scorer off the bench for the Orange and Blue 17 times overall. Included among that were 10 of her total 15 games played during C-USA action.

UTEP is in its first week of practice to prepare for the 2016-17 season. The Miners will tune up for the year by playing host to St. Mary’s (Texas) in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. Season tickets continue to be available for purchase.

Fans may call (915) 747-6150 or e-mail seasontickets@utep.edu to secure theirs today.

The complete preseason all-conference team and preseason poll are listed below.

2016-17 C-USA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

Lefty Webster | Charlotte | Junior | G | Norfolk, Va.

Ty Petty | Middle Tennessee | Senior | G | Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Alex Johnson | Middle Tennessee | Sophomore | F | Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Jennie Simms | Old Dominion | Junior | G | Accokeek, Md.

Jenzel Nash | UTEP | RS Senior | G | Houston, Texas

Sparkle Taylor | UTEP | Senior | G | Flint, Mich.

Tashia Brown | WKU | Junior | F | Lake Park, Ga.

*Kendall Noble | WKU | RS Senior | G | Hazard, Ky.

*Denotes Preseason Player of the Year

2016-17 C-USA PRESEASON POLL (#) first-place votes

1. WKU (6)

2. Middle Tennessee (5)

3. Old Dominion (2)

4. Charlotte

5. UTEP

6. North Texas

7. Rice

8. Southern Miss

9. UAB

10. Marshall

11. UTSA (1)

12. Louisiana Tech

13. Florida Atlantic

14. FIU

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