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Hot Shooting Helps Charlotte Knock Off UTEP 92-86

UTEP could not stop the offensive attack of the Charlotte 49ers, dropping their second straight conference game.

Jenzel Nash
Jenzel Nash
Al Carillo-AC Photo

Keitha Adams summed it up in one statement, "It just wasn't our night". And it was true on both ends of the floor as the Miners dropped a key C-USA game 92-86 Saturday night to Charlotte.

The Miners hot three-point shooting continued early on, Kelli Willingham knocked down a trey, then Cameasha Turner would sink one to give UTEP an early 14-8 lead with 14:58 left in the first.

Charlotte would respond with huge buckets by Gabby Tyler who was a perfect 6 out of 6 from the field in the first half, stepping toe to toe with the heavily favored Miners.

Jenzel Nash would hit Kristine Vitola off a nice driving pass for an easy layup, giving UTEP its largest lead of nine points 32-23 with 6:28 until halftime.

Ny Hammonds would rip a steal, leading to a Charlotte layup, starting a 14-4 49er run in the process that gave them a 40-38 edge going into the halftime break.

The second half, and pretty much the whole night belonged to Charlotte guard Hillary Sigmon.

Sigmon would break a 50-50 tie with her second three-pointer of the half with just under 15 minutes left, after a rapid pace of a second half start for both teams.

Another bomb from Sigmon would cap off a 15-5 run for the Niners who took a 65-52 lead at the 10:32 mark, as the Miners went cold, falling to the tough deficit.

Sigmon scored a game, and career high 32 points, including all of Charlotte's five three-pointers on seven attempts.

UTEP just could not stop Charlotte in the paint down the stretch, the 49ers scored 46 points in the paint for the game, most coming from Gabby Tyler who scored 20 points, and grabbed 12 rebounds, on 10 of 11 shooting from the paint.

Charlotte ripped the nets, and the Miner defense for a 61.8 percentage from the field, while UTEP struggled with a 37.8 percentage.

Willingham would hit another three-pointer to trim the lead to 67-62 with 7:41 left in the game, prompting a 49er timeout.

Though missed layups, and un-characteristic lapses on both ends of the floor lead to buckets for Charlotte, stretching the lead back to ten at 79-69 with a little under three minutes left.

Anete Kirstiene would bring the fighting Miners back within five at 89-84, with an NBA range three-pointer with 24 seconds left, though the 49ers were able to hang on from the free throw line in the final minute to give the Miners their first loss of the season at the Don.

To render the deficiencies on defense, UTEP managed to have five players score in double figures, led by Kayla Thornton who scored 18 points, adding in 9 rebounds.

A frustrated Keitha Adams had to this to say after the loss:

"I'm extremely upset. This is an experienced ballclub and it was very disappointing we played with no composure. Three things I wrote on the board, No defense, no composure, and by golly we better believe in each other, and believe in ourselves and stick together. I know I can coach, I know the kids can play, we've got to keep our confidence and trust in each other."

Jenzel Nash had 17 points, as did Kristine Vitola, Kelli Willingham and Chrishauna Parker both had 10 points, Parker also had 13 boards.

Turnovers plagued the Miners again, committing 15 turns, but to the Miners credit they did force 22 49er turnovers to keep within fighting distance in the last five minutes of the second half.

Keitha Adams ripped her teams poise in her post game comments, expect the Miners to have a animated coach in the Foster-Stevens Center this week with the conference schedule getting more challenging each week.

The Miners fall to 13-4 overall, and an even 2-2 in C-USA play. UTEP will host Southern Miss on Wednesday continuing their two game home stand at 7:05 PM MT.