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UTEP used swarming defense and an offensive outburst in the second half to storm past Tulsa, 50-35, in front of a season-best 4,006 fans at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
The Miners (17-2, 5-1 C-USA) held the Golden Hurricane (7-13, 2-5 C-USA) to the lowest field-goal percentage (20.6) and fewest points (35) by a conference opponent in the 39-year history of the program. Additionally, it marks the first double-digit victory by UTEP in a game when scoring 50 or fewer points.
The visitors hung around for a while, and led 22-17 with 17:31 to play before the Miners got it going across the board. UTEP torched TU to the tune of 18-2 in a scintillating six-minute surge to rip control of the contest for good. The Golden Hurricane could get no closer than seven from that point on, with the Orange and Blue extending their advantage to as many as 18 (50-32) late in the tilt.
It marks the third straight win for the Miners, who are now 17-2 on the year, including 11-1 at home. Additionally, UTEP moves to 46-6 overall since the start of last season.
“We grinded it out and got a good win,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well but we played hard and did enough to get the win. Now we have to get ready for a very good SMU team.”
Kayla Thornton scored 16 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, but it was her defense on Taleya Mayberry that stood out the most. Mayberry, who entered the game with 18.7 points per game and 4.1 assists per game, was held to 13 points (5-of-13 shooting) and zero assists.
Senior Anete Steinberga registered a double-double (13 points, 10 boards) for the third straight and fourth time in the past five games. Sophomore Chrishauna Parker had her standard all-around contest, with seven points, a career-best 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 31 minutes of action.
The Miners, who led 17-16 at half, heated up after the break. UTEP out-scored the visitors 33-19 over the final 20 minutes, aided by hitting 51.7 (15-of-29) percent from the floor.
UTEP outrebounded TU (48-47), with Parker, Steinberga and Thornton accounting for 33 of those boards. The Miners forced 18 Golden Hurricane turnovers, which led to 19 points. UTEP also pounded TU down low, with a 34-18 advantage for points in the paint.
Points were at a premium for both sides in the first half, with neither squad able to secure an advantage of more than four points. The Miners got a driving lay-up by Parker late in the period, which afforded them the one-point edge (17-16) entering the locker room.
Tulsa scored the first six points of the second half, but UTEP came alive by tallying 18 of the next 20 points in the contest. Parker, Steinberga and Thornton accounted for 12 of the points in the stretch, while Irene Gari (four) and Kelli Willingham (two) also got in on the act.
The Miners will wrap up the homestand when they play host to C-USA leader SMU at 1:05 p.m. MST Sunday. All fans who wear an athletic jersey will get free admission to the contest. Otherwise, tickets are just $5 for adults and $3 for kids.
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