UTEP Edged By Monmouth, 54-49

Nov. 28, 2008

Final Stats

Briana Green and Dietra Caldwell scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, but it wasn’t enough as the UTEP women’s basketball team was dispatched by Monmouth, 54-49, in the opening game for both teams of the Miner Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center Friday evening.

The Hawks (3-1) advance to the championship game of the tournament, where they will take on Utah State (3-2) at 7:05. The Miners (2-3) will square off against Texas State (2-3) in the third/fourth-place game of the event, with tip-off set for 4:35 p.m.

UTEP showed tremendous heart in spite of the setback, fighting back from a 52-42 deficit with 2:36 left in the game with a 7-0 run to make it 52-49 with 25 seconds left. The Hawks, however, knocked down a pair of free throws down the stretch to hold off the Orange and Blue.

MU’s Jennifer Bender contributed a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds, with her effort down low proving to be more than the Miners could handle. MU out-rebounded UTEP 34-25, while also scoring 32 points in the contest compared to 22 by the Miners.

The Orange and Blue were able to hang around all night thanks to pressure defense- they forced 20 turnovers which were converted into 18 points) in addition to buckets at critical times. Timika Williams and Brittnay Jones each tallied seven points while freshman Channing Hillman came off the bench to provide six points.



UTEP did early in the contest, enjoying edges of 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4. Monmouth, though, took control of the tilt by virtue of a 12-1 run to vault ahead by nine (16-7) with 10:12 to play in the half. The Miners trimmed the deficit to seven (18-11) but the Hawks struck back with a 6-3 spurt the next several minutes to secure a 28-14 advantage with 2:34 remaining in the period.

UTEP gained some momentum heading into the halftime with Green sinking three free throws after she was fouled on a three-point attempt. The effort at the charity stripe by Lexington, Ky., native allowed the Miners to climb within 10 (29-19) at the break.

In the second stanza, the Orange and Blue started to heat up. UTEP used an 8-2 spurt to turn a 10-point deficit with 17:53 left into a four-point lead for the Hawks (35-31). Defense was critical in the stretch, with the Miners forcing turnovers on back-to-back possessions. Both led to scores, with the latter forcing MU to call a timeout.

As would be the case all night, though, the Hawks had an answer. It came in the form of a 10-4 run covering a span of five-plus minutes, pushing MU’s lead back to double figures (45-35) with 8:35 remaining. Rather than fold up shop, UTEP dug deep and rattled off seven of the next eight points to once again climb within four (46-42) with 5:04 on the clock.

The Hawks appeared to be in cruise control in the waning minutes, but the Miners’ never-say-die attitude gave them a chance to force overtime or even win it. It was not to be, though, with MU escaping courtesy of the aforementioned free throws.


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