UTEP Disposes UTSA 78-65

Tom Gonzales-MinerRush

Without its senior star, the UTEP Miners overcame a pesky UTSA team on UTEP's senior night 78-65.

Emotions were running high pregame as coach Keitha Adams said goodbye to the winningest senior class in UTEP history, without its top senior.

The Miners overcame the emotions, and an upset minded UTSA, finishing off their regular season home schedule with a sound 78-65 win.

UTEP jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on this senior night, only to be answered by a 7-0 Roadrunner run that made things tight early.

Senior Kelli Willingham got the Miners going with a three-pointer that gave UTEP a 21-17 lead at the 7:21 mark of the first half.

That long ball started a string of two more three balls from the Miners as Stacie Telles splashed home a trey that gave UTEP 27-19 lead, part of a 9-2 Miner run, Nash buried the prior dagger.

Momentum swung the Miners way during that stretch, finishing the half strong to take a 33-25 lead into the break.

The three ball was good for both teams throughout this one.

Senior Kristine Vitola nailed a deep ball for the Miners first points of the second half, UTEP out scored UTSA 12-6 in the first five minutes of the half to jump out its largest lead of 14, 45-31 at the 15:00 mark.

Though UTSA would not go quietly.

Mathilde Hergott had a huge night for the Runners, scoring 22 points on 5/8 shooting from three.  She would hit a three to cut the Miners lead down to six, then exactly a minute later she canned another one, cutting the deficit to 58-53 UTEP with 7:30 left.

Jenzel Nash carried UTEP through the next couple of minutes with a pair of jumpers, though Hergott again knocked down another three, keeping UTSA within reach at 63-58 with under five minutes left.

UTEP clamped down on the defensive end, and put UTSA away in the final minutes putting an exclamation point on a special night for a special group of seniors.

Nash lead UTEP with 16 points, Stacie Telles had a another solid outing.  She added 13 points on 3/3 shooting from behind the three point line. The Miners fired 7/13 as a team from deep.

The Miners also finished with four in double figures, Vitola scored 13 points, with 4 rebounds, Sparkle Taylor added 11 points, she now has scored in double figures in five out of her last six games.

UTSA's star guard Kamra King added 17 in the losing effort, though was frustrated most of the night by the Miners tough defense, she was 4/12 from the field.

UTEP out muscled the Runners on the boards 40-32, and also forced 18 UTSA turnovers, leading to 17 points for the better orange and blue.

The win also marks the 89th win in the careers of the special K's, Thornton, Willingham, and Vitola.

These three have put UTEP on the map as an every year juggernaut in C-USA, their efforts, and All-World personalities will certainly be missed around here.

After the game, Head Coach Keitha Adams said its very likely UTEP will be without Kayla Thornton again on Saturday when the Miners travel to Houston to face Rice.

You can catch that game on Fox Sports Southwest at 10 AM Mountain Time.

The win tonight improves UTEP to 22-5 overall, and 11-3 in conference play.

The Miners are now a game back behind Southern Miss and Tulane who are tied for second place.

A win against Rice Satruday and UTEP should lock up one of the top four seeds, and also hope to add some more momentum heading into the C-USA tourney.

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