UTEP Knocks Off Tulsa, 63-53, To Stay Tied For First Place In C-USA

Feb. 26, 2009

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Behind a barrage of three pointers, the UTEP women's basketball team downed Tulsa, 63-53, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center Thursday evening. Head coach Keitha Adams earned her 250 career victory as a collegiate head coach, with 123 of those coming at UTEP to put her tied for first place at the institution with Sandra Rushing.

The Miners' (18-10, 11-4 C-USA) sixth straight victory keeps them in the driver seat for defending their Conference USA crown, as they can secure the No. 1 seed for the league tournament and guarantee a postseason bid with a win at SMU at 1 p.m. MST on Saturday. The Mustangs and Southern Miss also stand at 11-4 in league action, but UTEP owns the tiebreaker with the Lady Eagles. At the very least, UTEP is already ensured of a first-round bye at the upcoming league tournament.

On this night, though, UTEP's focus was solely on Tulsa (7-20, 3-12 C-USA), with the Miners overwhelming the Golden Hurricane on the strength of filling up 11-of-22 from beyond the arc. UTEP didn't have much drop from inside the arc (10-of-37 for 27% on twos) or from the free-throw line (10-of-18, 55.6%), but it proved to be a moot point thanks to the three-point bombardment and stifling defense (33.3 percent from the field by Tulsa).

Timika Williams keyed the charge, connecting on 4-of-5 from downtown while Dietra Caldwell (3-of-6), Sviatlana Trukshanina (2-of-6), Brittnay Jones (1-of-2) and Jareica Hughes (1-of 3) all joined in on the fun. Hughes finished with a game-high 17 points and six assists, while Williams poured in 16, Caldwell contributed 11 and Trukshanina chipped in eight.

In what was a game of runs (eight ties and 11 lead changes), it was a 10-2 UTEP spurt midway through the second half that proved to be the decisive sequence. Trailing 39-37 with 11:29 left following a triple from Kara Vaughan (who finished with 13 points and 10 boards), the Miners struck back in a big way to take control for good.

Hughes ignited it by burying her lone triple of the contest, which was followed by a make at the free-throw line. The junior then found Williams alone in the corner, who nailed her third triple of the tilt.

Tulsa halted the sequence with two free throws from Vaughan, but Hughes silenced the crowd with an old-fashioned three-point play. She filled up a lay-up in traffic despite getting hit hard from Meoshi Bradley, and then connected on the ensuing free throw.

Bradley made up for the mistake by drilling a three pointer of her own to make it 47-44 UTEP with 8:16 left, but Williams answered with her final home run ball of the night to reinstate the six-point advantage.

The Golden Hurricane continued to battle, but could get no closer than four from that point on. That is not to say there was not drama, though, as TU was down just five (53-48) with 4:01 remaining. The Miners would seal the deal, though, thanks to a 5-0 run over the next two minutes.

When it was all said and down, the Orange and Blue enjoyed their initial double-digit advantage of the evening (58-48) with 2:41 left, and TU was effectively demoralized.

The Miners will conclude the regular season when they take on the Mustangs inside Moody Coliseum at 1 p.m. MST on Saturday. The game will be carried live on KHRO 1150 AM in El Paso.  



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