MINERS
No. 23/25 UTEP's Incredible Season Concludes At No. 4 Stanford

UTEP's Natasha Lacy, right, shoots over Stanford's Candice Wiggins in the first half during the second round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

UTEP's Natasha Lacy, right, shoots over Stanford's Candice Wiggins in the first half during the second round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

March 24, 2008

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NCAA Tournament Central

STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 23/25 UTEP women's basketball team's magical 2007-08 campaign came to an end against No. 4 Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, as the Miners fell to the homestanding Cardinal, 88-54, Monday evening at Maples Pavilion.

UTEP (28-4) simply had no answer for Candice Wiggins. The All American poured in career-high 44 points, matching Stanford's single-game record in the process.

 In a bittersweet moment, senior Izabela Piekarska became the program's all-time leading scorer thanks a 17-point performance (7-of-20). The native of Warsaw, Poland, concludes her stellar career with 1,251 points, to surpass the previous standard of 1,249 held by former great Be Stoney (1977-81).

 

Also playing their final contests of their careers for the Miners were Kasia Krezel, Natasha Lacy, Tasha Marisett and Claudia Porras. UTEP's winningest class in the 34-year history of the program has helped put the Miners on the map.

 

UTEP looked to be in good shape early on, racing out to an early 13-8 edge. Foul trouble (Lacy and Piekarska were each tagged with two infractions in the opening minutes) and an inability to knock down shots allowed the Cardinal a window of opportunity.

 

Stanford took advantage of the situation, utilizing an 11-0 run to take an 18-13 lead with 12:26 remaining. The Miners clipped the deficit to 31-27 with 4:33 to play, but Stanford closed the half on a 9-2 spurt to take a 40-29 edge into the locker room.

 

The Cardinal opened up the second stanza on a 5-0 spurt to vault ahead by 16, and UTEP would never get closer than 14 down the stretch.

 

Despite the setback, UTEP has nothing to be ashamed of. The Miners soared to previous unseen heights this year. Consider the following:

 

·          UTEP achieved its initial appearance in a postseason tournament in the 34-year history of the program, advancing into the second round of the NCAA tournament

·          Won 28 games, to match the highest win total by a basketball team (either men's or women's) at the institution

·          Notched a 28-4 record, including a school and league- best of 23 straight wins

·          Made their initial foray into the national polls; climbed as high as 18th in the AP and 23rd in the Coaches Poll

·          Won the 2008 Conference USA Regular-Season Championship

·          Soared to 16-0 mark in C-USA play, becoming the first team in the league history to accomplish the feat

·          Won the first conference championship in the 34-year history of women's basketball at UTEP and only the second league title for women's sports at UTEP

·          Keitha Adams was named 2008 C-USA Coach of the Year and was a finalist for national coach of the year

·          Sophomore Jareica Hughes was tabbed the C-USA Player of the Year

·          Natasha Lacy was selected as the C-USA Newcomer of the Year

·          Placed a program-best three individuals on the all-conference squads (Jareica Hughes was a first-team All-Conference USA honoree and Natasha Lacy and Izabela Piekarska were second-squad selections).

 

Stanford (32-3) moves onto the Regional Semifinal where it will battle Pittsburgh on March 29.