Big Second Half Sends UTEP Past Texas Southern, 87-61

Irene Gari

Dec. 29, 2013

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EL PASO, Texas –Kayla Thornton poured in 23 points and UTEP used a huge second half to topple upset-minded Texas Southern, 87-61, at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon.

The Miners (11-1) led by five (34-29) at the break before unleashing a lethal full-court press that befuddled the Lady Tigers (3-8). The visitors committed 18 of their 26 turnovers in the second half, which led to 26 of UTEP’s 53 points in the stanza.

The effort keeps the Miners undefeated at home (9-0) while moving them to 11-1 for the second straight year and third occasion in program history. It is also the 10th double-digit victory this year, marking the eighth season in the Keitha Adams era that the Orange and Blue have recorded 10 or more such triumphs.

Kristine Vitola (12 points, eight rebounds), Chrishauna Parker (12 points, six rebounds) and Irene Gari (10 points, season-high seven rebounds) all joined Thornton in double figures while Cameasha Turner (nine points, four boards) and Stacie Telles (seven points, four rebounds) also got involved in the attack.

Thornton also grabbed five rebounds to move into second place all time on the Miners’ career list with 795. She is closing in on Kim Watts’ school standard (810), which has stood for 30 years.

UTEP shared the ball well with 16 assists on 29 field goals while making 43.9 percent (29-of-66) from the floor. It also took care of business at the free-throw line (26-of-38, 68.4 percent).

TSU played hard throughout the tilt, with Brianna Sidney (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Jazzmin Parker (15 points) leading the way. It was done in though, by the aforementioned 26 turnovers while also being outrebounded by the Miners, 49-41.

“I’m happy that we won but I’m not happy with how we played,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We were good enough today to get beat. We need to get better this week.”

UTEP scored the first four points of the game and led 10-5 with 15:46 to play in the first half. TSU struck back with a 9-4 run over the next two minutes to secure its first advantage of the contest.

The two squads traded blows over the remainder of the stanza before the Orange and Blue scored the final five points to grab the five-point advantage (34-29) heading into halftime.

The visitors were hanging around early in the second half before the press started to take effect. UTEP went on a 23-7 run to turn what was a four-point advantage into a 20-point cushion (67-47) in a span of six minutes.

The margin swelled to as many as 31 before a late push by the visitors got it down to 26.

UTEP will wrap up non-conference play while ringing in the New Year by venturing to SEC territory for a match-up at national power Texas A&M at 5 p.m. MST on Thursday.



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