MINERS
UTEP Finishes Perfect In Conference USA With 65-50 Victory Over Tulsa

UTEP's Kasia Krezel, right, drives against Tulsa's Destanie Gardner during the first half. Gardner was called for a foul. (AP Photo/El Paso Times, Victor Calzada)

UTEP's Kasia Krezel, right, drives against Tulsa's Destanie Gardner during the first half. Gardner was called for a foul. (AP Photo/El Paso Times, Victor Calzada)

March 1, 2008

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No. 19/23 UTEP raced out to a 9-0 lead and enjoyed a 20-point edge at the half on the way to a defeating Tulsa, 65-50, becoming the first team in league history to go unbeaten in Conference USA play as result.

 

The Miners' 21st consecutive victory sent the 2008 senior class of Kasia Krezel, Natasha Lacy, Tasha Marisett, Claudia Porras and Izabela Piekarska out in style. It also afforded UTEP its initial perfect record at home in program annals, as the Miners posted a 14-0 mark in El Paso this year.

 

With the triumph, UTEP concludes the regular season at 25-2 and 16-0 in C-USA play, while the Golden Hurricane finished with respective records of 10-19 and 6-10.

 

"This is a special, special group," UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. "We've been focused all year long. I'm very proud of the team and proud of the support that El Paso's given us this year. Words cannot express how great we are feeling," Adams concluded.

 

It was only fitting that the Orange and Blue's top-five scorers were seniors. Krezel led the way with 13 points, followed by a balanced effort of 12 points, six assists, three steals and three boards by Lacy.  Piekarska and Porras chipped in eight points apiece while Marisett provided plenty of energy off the bench with hustle plays and defense.

 

UTEP forced Tulsa into 27 turnovers, and converted those giveaways into 25 points. The Miners' bench also factored in, adding 20 points.

 

The Miners' started white hot, holding the Golden Hurricane scoreless the first six-and-a half minutes of the ball game. UTEP had no such troubles, vaulting ahead to an early double-digit edge (14-4) courtesy of a pair of Krezel free throws.

 

The Orange and Blue were just getting warmed up, pushing the advantage to 23-4 as part of a 14-0 run. Tulsa ended the spurt with a pair of free throws, but UTEP responded with a 12-7 spurt to surge ahead by 22.

 

Tulsa converted a lay-up to make it a 20-point deficit at the break.

 

The Miners put things on cruise control in the second half, leading by as many as 22 before holding on for a 15-point victory.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

UTEP will be back in action at the Conference USA tournament in Orlando, Fla., from March 6-9. The Miners will take on the winner of the 8/9 game in the quarterfinals on Friday, at 6 p.m. MST.


 

 

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