UTEP Women's Basketball: Miners Open League Play With Win


Senior leaders Kelli Willingham and Kayla Thornton lead the Miners over UAB in the opening night of C-USA play.

The UTEP women's basketball team used an almost perfect free throw shooting performance, to compliment a dominating effort on the glass to outlast the UAB Blazers 85-76 Thursday night in Birmingham.

UTEP was a 24 out of 27 from the charity stripe, that also included a 9/12 effort from the line by Kayla Thornton who lead the Miners with 23 points.

Thornton also added 7 rebounds, which now makes her the all-time leader in rebounds in UTEP history, she also sits second in points with 1,284 .

Kelli Willingham had a huge game from 3-point land, as the senior connected on 6 of 8 tries, accounting for all of her 18 points.

Willingham drilled her first attempt of the evening for UTEP's first points, foreshadowing her night while helping the Miners jump out to an early 8-2 lead.

UAB has a trio of solid scorers, two of which went off on the night, and gave UAB a 20-19 lead at the 7: 53 mark of the first half.

Irene Gari would put the Miners back up four with 3-pointer, which ignited a 15-0 run that gave UTEP a 35-20 lead with under four minutes left in the half.

UTEP led 42-32 at the half, and after a Kayla Thornton jumper, the Miners sprinted out to an 18-point, 60-42 lead with 12:51 left in the game.

UAB began chipping away at the UTEP cushion with some huge 3-pointers, Chelsea Black would bring the lead down to single digits by sinking a trey with only 1:23 left.

With this game being only its third true road game of the season, the Miners played road tested, and poised down the stretch.

Thornton went 5/6 from the free throw line in the final minute to improve UTEP to 12-2 on the season, and gave Keitha Adams'her fifth straight conference opening win.

UAB fought tough, and can really score, but drop to 8-6 despite 26 points and 10 rebounds from Karisma Chapman, Black also added 26, including four from behind the arc.

UTEP held a 43-31 edge on the boards, after not hitting a three-pointer against Texas A&M, the Miners rained home 8 on the night to cap off an impressive win to open up the conference schedule.

The Miners return home from their two game road swing Saturday against Tulsa at 1:30 PM MDT in the Don.

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