UTEP Drops Cal State Fullerton in Double-OT 92-91

FULLERTON, Ca.- Tamara Seda posted a huge double-double (career-high 30 points, 12 rebounds) to help the UTEP women’s basketball team outlast homestanding Cal State Fullerton, 92-91, in double overtime Friday night.

The game featured six ties and eight lead changes, with the final one coming after Zuzanna Puc banked home a runner in the lane to put the Miners (8-4) up by one with 15 seconds left. The Titans (5-8), who had their three-game winning streak snapped, misfired on a baseline jumper as time expired.

UTEP connected on 54.0 percent (34-63) of its shots, won the boards (35-33) and committed a season-low tying 14 turnovers. Katarina Zec poured in 21 points to buoy Seda while Najala Howell (16 points) and Puc (12 points) also reached double figures in scoring. Faith Cook tallied five points to go along with a team-high four assists.

Jade Vega registered 24 points to lead a quintet of Cal State Fullerton players in double figures for scoring.

“Does tonight’s game not speak to the resiliency of our team?” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We won that game about four or five different times. Luckily we pulled it out in double overtime. I’m very proud of our team. What a great game. It’s a shame anybody had to lose it but I’m glad we came out on top.”

After an early 2-2 tie the Miners ripped off seven straight points to surge ahead at 9-2 with 6:37 to play in the first quarter. Cal State Fullerton fought back to trim the deficit to two (14-12) but UTEP countered with another 7-0 surge. Howell was instrumental in the sequence with five of the points. China Henderson knocked down a jumper to halt the sequence but the Orange and Blue tallied the final three points in the period to lead by 10 (24-14) after 10 minutes of action. It marked the highest scoring first quarter of the year for the Miners.

Cal State Fullerton managed to get within six (30-24) with 6:52 to play in the half but the Orange and Blue had an answer. It came in the form of an 8-0 push, including back-to-back triples from Zec. The two sides traded baskets over the remainder of the stanza, with UTEP holding a comfortable 16-point cushion (48-32) at the half. The 48 points established a first-half season high for the Miners.

The home side came out firing to start the third quarter, using back-to-back triples early in the frame to power a 10-0 run and cut the Miners’ lead to eight (52-44). Seda stopped the sequence with a strong post move to reinstate a double-digit advantage (54-44). The cushion swelled to as many as 15 before a jump shot from Cal State Fullerton’s Xinavane Forman made it a 13-point contest (63-50) heading to the fourth quarter.

The Titans peeled off 15 straight points over the first eight-and-a-half minutes of the frame to take the lead. Cook nailed a long two to tie the tilt with 1:32 left in regulation. UTEP then pushed ahead by three with a jumper from Zec and a free throw by Jordan Alexander. The Titans tied the game on a triple by Triann Thompson with six seconds left. A giveaway by Cook got the home side the ball back with 0.6 seconds, but a potential game-winning jumper was waived off after an official review to send the contest to overtime.

UTEP surged ahead by six (77-71) in overtime before Cal State Fullerton used a five-point trip to make it a one-point game. Hannah Thompson sunk a trey and Carolyn Gill hit two free throws as the result of a simultaneous foul away from the ball. After Seda scored to put the Miners back up by three the Titans forced double overtime on Vega’s homerun ball.

In double overtime it went back-and-forth with six lead changes but thanks to Puc and company the Miners pulled out the win. She scored six of her 12 points in the period, including the eventual game-winning shot. Another big play in the double overtime period was a straight away triple from Cook to put the Orange and Blue up by two with 2:08 to play.

UTEP will wrap up non-conference play while playing for the second time in as many days in California when they lock up at UC Riverside at 5 p.m. PST/6 p.m. MST Saturday.

The contest will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz on the call.

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