Championship craze causes Miner mania

Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 12:18am

Miner fever is contagious, as the hype surrounding the UTEP women's basketball team has hit a new high.

The Miners will take on Rutgers University Saturday afternoon in the WNIT Championship and fans are doing everything they can to get their hands on those coveted tickets to the sold-out game.

"The players take sacrifices in coming and practicing every day so why can't us fans do that?" said Yesenia Ramirez.

"When I was a sophomore in high school, I played against Kayla Thornton when she went to Irvin. So it's so exciting to see her play knowing that I played against her," said Brianna Melendez.

The Miners will play in the championship game after a win against South Dakota State on Wednesday.

"On Wednesday's game, we were right in back of the other teams, the South Dakotas parents and everything and it was just front and back yelling at each other and it was just so exciting," said Melendez.

Tickets for the historic game sold out in less than two hours.

Local businesses like Menchie's yogurt shop were among those scooping them up.

"We had 10 pairs of tickets, so we had 20 tickets in total, and today our guests were able to come into Menchie's and sign a raffle, and every hour, on the hour, from 4 to 8, we've been giving away two tickets at both of our locations," said Jaya Vaswani, one of the owners of Menchie's. Winners were announced on Menchie's Facebook page.

The Miners snagged a win in their final four matchup at home but the championship game probably wouldn't be played here if not for evangelist Franklin Graham, who had already booked the Haskins Center for an event that same weekend.

"I thought to myself there's no way I'm going to take that court away from those ladies who have worked so hard, and the families that have supported them and the community, the city that's backed them, and I said we'll just take our event outside," said Graham.

Tip-off for the game starts at 1p.m. on Saturday at the Haskins Center.


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