Kayla Thornton has been selected as the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Co-Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday.
The junior posted a monstrous double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) in UTEP’s 52-50 victory at previously unbeaten Kansas State on Dec. 16. She played a team-high 37 minutes, and she came up big down the stretch. She had an offensive rebound and putback to tie the game for the second time (50-50) with 1:02 remaining.
After UTEP got a stop, Thornton secured the defensive rebound. She raced coast-to-coast on the way to being fouled after securing a rebound on her missed lay-up. She sunk the free throw that gave the Miners the lead, and proved it also be the game winner.
Her efforts helped UTEP close the game on a 14-2 run to erase a 10-point deficit with 5:27 to play.
“Good things happen when you play hard,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said.
Her presence on the court also aided UTEP to a 26-16 advantage in points in the paint and a 47-38 cushion for rebounds.
The victory was the third in as many tries this season for the Miners against members from a power conference. UTEP is now 6-35 all time in such contests, with four of the wins coming during the Adams era.
The effort also snapped Kansas State’s 17-game home winning streak against non-conference foes. The Wildcats, who advanced to the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, slipped to 100-10 in the Deb Patterson era at home in such contests.
Thornton and the Miners will return to action at home against New Mexico at 7:05 p.m. MST Thursday. Tickets are just $5 for adults and $3 for kids.