UTEP Claims Share Of C-USA Crown With 71-51 Win At Houston

Feb. 19, 2012

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HOUSTON, TEXAS – Four different Miners reached double figures in scoring to help UTEP down Houston, 71-51, and secure at least a share of the 2012 Conference USA crown in the process in front of a very partisan Miner crowd at Hofheinz Pavilion Sunday afternoon. The Miners (24-2, 13-0 C-USA), coupled with UAB falling to Marshall, also wrapped up the No. 1 seed at the upcoming C-USA Tournament (March 7-10).

UTEP led 20-19 with 7:46 to play in the first half before outscoring the Cougars (2-23, 1-12), 51-32 the rest of the way to extend their winning streak to 14. Included in that was a dominant 40-16 surge spanning roughly 15 minutes to effectively put the game out of reach.

Anete Steinberga recorded her first double-double of the year (10 points, 10 boards), with Gloria Brown (14 points, six boards), Kayla Thornton (10 points, nine rebounds) and Kristine Vitola (10 points, four boards) also getting involved.

The Miners connected on 37.1 percent from the floor (26-of-70), which was aided by making shots at a clip of 40 percent (14-of-35) over the final 20 minutes. UTEP crushed the Cougars on the glass, 52-36, and out-scored them by a count of 34-10 in points in the paint.

UTEP’s reserves produced 43 points, nearly matching the efforts of the entire UH squad in the process.

Houston opened up by draining 6-of-12 before the Orange and Blue tightened things up considerably. The home side hit just 9-of-34 from the point, and it finished at 32.6 percent (15-of-46) from the floor for the contest.

C-USA scoring leader Roxana Button tallied 20 points but she had to take 16 shots to do so. Amanda Lawson buoyed her with 12 points, but no other Cougar play chipped in more than seven points.  

UTEP jumped out to respective leads of 4-0 and 8-4. UH countered with a 7-2 run to grab its first advantage of the game, and was up 14-13 with 11:38 to play following a triple by Button. The Miners used their own 7-2 run to regain the advantage, one they would never relinquish.

Houston did its best to hang around, though, trailing 20-19, before UTEP elevated its energy at both ends of the court. The result was a 15-6 surge to close the period, which was a part of the eventual game-changing 40-16 run.

The advantage was 60-35 with 8:50 to play before UTEP put it on cruise control down the stretch. The Miners were treated to a special moment over the final 30 seconds of the game, with the large contingent of UTEP fans in attendance rising and changing “UTEP” in unison.

UTEP will be back in action with a chance to claim the C-USA outright championship when it plays host to SMU at 7:05 p.m. MST on Thursday. There will be free admission to the contest, as part of the celebration surrounding National Girls & Women In Sports Day.



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