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Buoyed by Anete Steinberga's double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) and a sizzling second half of shooting, UTEP soared to a 65-54 road conquest of Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion Sunday afternoon. The Miners (16-2, 4-1 C-USA) shot 58.7 (17-of-29) after the break while defending with tenancy throughout to turn a 22-21 deficit at the break into a distant memory.
There were four ties and 11 lead changes, with the last one coming after an 11-2 Miner run midway through the second half. It afforded UTEP a 50-43 advantage, and the Cougars (9-9, 3-2 C-USA) never threatened down the stretch.
UTEP improves to 4-1 on the road this year, including 3-0 within C-USA play. It has won the 12 straight league road games, which has helped it post a record of 15-2 over the past 17 road contests overall. Furthermore, the Miners are 45-6 since the start of the 2011-12 campaign.
“Great win today against Houston and I’m really proud of our team,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I thought we executed really well down the stretch. The effort was tremendous. It was a good trip to Houston this week to come out with two road wins.”
UH was held to 28.1 percent and made 15 turnovers that led to 15 UTEP points. The Miners also owned the boards, with a +19 margin (50-31) in that area.
While Steinberga stole the show by drilling 9-of-17 from the floor, she did have some help. Kayla Thornton overcame foul issues in the first half to finish with 10 points in five rebounds while Kelli Willingham added nine points and a trio of helpers.
Sophomore Chrishauna flirted with a triple double (8 points, 10 rebounds & 7 assists).
UTEP got some nice contribution from its bench. Freshman Jamie Madden set career highs for minutes (18), points (seen) and assists (two) while fellow classmate Saidah Zuberi Allen pitched in six points and eight boards in 20 quality minutes of action.
Three Cougars reached double figures, with Marche' Amerson leading the way with 11 points.
It was a defense-dominated first half, with both teams struggling to knock down shots. The Cougars used consecutive triples from Alecia Smith to break a 5-5 tie and grab their biggest advantage (11-5) midway through the period. The Miners regrouped before the deficit grew, using a post score from Steinberga and a fast-break finish from Parker to get back into the thick of things.
Neither side managed to secure a lead of greater than three the rest of the stanza. Madden used a quick first stop and finished her driving lay-up at the rim to make it a one-point game (22-21) at the break.
The two sides traded blows over the first nine minutes of the second stanza before UTEP started to put things together. The Miners scored six straight points to help fuel the aforementioned 11-2 surge, and Houston didn’t recover.
UTEP secured its initial double-digit lead (58-47) of the contest with 2:37 left. It pushed it out to as many as 15, and cruised down the stretch.
The Miners will return to action when they play host to Tulsa at 7:05 p.m. MST Thursday. It will be the first of two home games on the week for UTEP, which will challenge SMU at 2:05 p.m. MST on Feb. 3.
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