UTEP surged out to a 34-22 halftime lead but UTSA rode the hot hand of Crystal Chidomere to rally past the Miners, 58-55, at the Don Haskins Center Friday evening.
Chidomere tallied 23 of her game-high 29 points in the second half to help the Roadrunners (7-19, 5-10 C-USA) slip past the Miners (14-12, 5-8 C-USA). UTEP has now dropped four straight games by a combined 12 points.
Najala Howell registered 17 points to pace the Miners, but her potential game-tying 3-point shot in the waning seconds rimmed out as UTSA completed its comeback. Tamara Seda scored 11 points to join Howell in double figures while Jordan Alexander added nine points.
UTEP shot 44.0 percent (22-50) to UTSA’s 41.5 percent (22-53) but made 19 turnovers while also being outrebounded, 35-29. Marie Benson recorded 14 points to buoy the efforts of Chidomere.
“First of all I want to say thanks to all of the people who came out tonight for ‘Hoops For the Cure,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We had a lot of people here and for a good cause. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short today.”
It was a slow start offensively for both sides, with the contest knotted at two four minutes into the opening frame. UTEP adapted and found its rhythm, resulting in an 11-0 run to surge out to a 13-2 advantage with 1:53 to play in the first quarter. UTSA finally halted things with a lay-up but a Seda lay-up reinstated an 11-point cushion (17-6) through 10 minutes of action.
The Miners stretched their lead to as many as 15 on a couple of occasions during a back-and-forth second quarter. And even with UTEP going without a field goal for the final 3:06 of the frame, it was able to carry a 12-point lead (34-22) into halftime.
UTSA went to work in the third quarter, unleashing a 12-3 run over the first seven-plus minutes to trim the Miners advantage down to three (37-34). The Miners put a stop to it with back-to-back baskets from Seda and Katarina Zec to get a little bit of breathing room. After the Roadrunners got within four (44-40), Zec drained a corner triple to afford the Orange and Blue a seven-point margin (47-40) heading to the fourth quarter.
The visitors came out firing to start the final frame, ripping off eight straight points over the first five minutes to secure their first lead of the contest at 48-47. Seda knocked down a jumper to put UTEP back on top. After a lay-up from Benson, Zuzanna Puc made a lay-up of her own to once again give the Miners a one-point edge (51-50). Consecutive jumpers by Chidomere allowed UTSA to regain the lead (54-51), and it would not relinquish it. UTEP had chances, but couldn’t knock down any of its final three shot attempts.
The Miners will now turn the page to prepare for a 1 p.m. MST/2 p.m. CST match-up at Southern Miss Sunday. Duke Keith will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso.