Blue Raiders Frustrate Miners 69-58

Anthony Salom-MinerRush

The UTEP Women's Basketball team dropped their first Conference USA contest of the season at Middle Tennessee.

The Miners came out of the gates firing from deep equaling to some crowd quieting success, with four of their first six field goals being from deep, though Middle Tennessee had an answer all night as they knocked off UTEP 69-58.

Wednesday's tilt featured the top two teams in C-USA, and the first half live up to that notion leading to a hard fought 31-all tie at halftime.

Despite a 9-0 run by the Blue Raiders and 13 first half turnovers, the Miners still shot 56 percent from the field to keep even in the first frame.

Ebony Rowe helped a 15-0 run that would begin at the 2:53 mark of the first half, and carry into the second thanks to a huge three-pointer from Laken Leonard to put Middle Tennessee up 39-31 at the 17:30 mark of the second half.

UTEP would keep fighting, but could not avoid turning the ball over on offense, adding in some questionable calls that hampered any chance of a Miner come back.

Jenzel Nash would cut the lead to six with a layup at the 12:12 mark, making it the closest the Miners would get in the second half.

Middle Tennessee forced 25 UTEP turnovers on the night, leading to 27 points off turnovers, making life difficult for the Miners who have a done a superb job of taking care of the rock in their first two conference games.

Kayla Thornton would foul out with 5:08 left in the game, and UTEP trailing 60-49.  She finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, before being whistled for a very questionable offensive foul that led to her exit.

Rowe finished with a game high 23 points, adding 10 rebounds in all 40 minutes of the game for the Blue Raiders who had four players score in double figures.

Olivia Jones played also played 40 minutes for Middle, powering her way with 17 points and 10 rebounds, 8 coming on the offensive end.

Kelli Willingham was a perfect 4/4 from behind the three-point line for all of her 16 points for the Miners, who also had four players score in double figures.

Even winning the rebound margin (43-36) was not enough to muster up a come back with the turnover issues, and UTEP allowing 16 offensive rebounds.

It's back to the practice floor for Keitha Adams and the Miners, with Charlotte coming into El Paso Saturday night, Charlotte lost to UTSA 61-60 Wednesday night.

UTEP is now 13-3 overall, 2-1 in conference on the season, Middle Tennessee improves to 14-3, and 3-0 in conference, something tells me we will see these two again in El Paso come March.

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