Miners Push Chinese Olympic Team To The Limit
Nov. 12, 2007
The UTEP women's basketball team gave the 10th-rated team in the world quite a scare, with the Chinese Olympic team squeaking out 77-75 win at the Don Haskins Center on Monday evening. UTEP had a shot to win it, but Natasha Lacy's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
"We played extremely hard," UTEP had coach Keitha Adams said. "I thought our effort really good. That is a veteran team of ladies which is preparing for the Olympics. For us to compete against that caliber of team makes me really proud."
For most of the night, UTEP showed it could play one of the best units in the world. The Miners trailed by only one at the break, 36-35. In the second half, China looked like it was pulling away as it opened up a 16-point lead (61-45) with 9:24 to play, but the Orange and Blue refused to quit.
Izabela Piekarska, who finished with 16 points and three boards, got things going with a long triple and then a pair of free throws. The two squads traded baskets the next couple of minutes before the Miners went on a furious 16-5 run in a span of four minutes to take the lead at 70-69 with 2:15 left in the contest.
Kasia Krezel was instrumental in the stretch, scoring five of her game-high 23 points while also registering a pair of steals
Team China then moved back ahead with a pair of free throws by Xiaoli Chen, before Natsha Lacy finished a driving lay-up in traffic. The senior, who tallied in 14 points to go along with six boards, hung in the air and dropped the ball into the hoop with her left hand.
Lijie Miao had an answer for China, as she calmly drained a triple to afford the squad a lead it would not relinquish. Miao burned the Miners for 21 points, including 12 from three-point land. China extended its advantage to four (76-72) courtesy of a jumper by Xiaonia Zhang with only 18 seconds left, but UTEP would not go down without a fight.
Freshman Alyssa Faubion displayed nerves of steel with a triple from the corner with five seconds left to make it a one-point ball game. Xiaoyun Song split the ensuing free throws, which gave Lacy the chance.
Throughout the game, UTEP's pressure defense gave China fits. The Miners scored 21 points on 24 giveaways, while doing a good job of executing on offense with 14 assists compared to only 11 giveaways.
UTEP had 22 second-chance points, which was aided by 19 offensive rebounds against the much taller China team. The Miners connected on 39.2 percent of their shots, including 9-of-18 from three-point land.
The Miners will be back in action for its home opener against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.