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UTEP's Second Half Rally Blasts Tulane 86-72

Kayla Thornton turned in another monster performance as UTEP wins it fourth straight game.

Al Carillo-AC Photo

Facing a tough conference road test Saturday afternoon against a solid, efficient Tulane, the UTEP Miners weathered a first half deficit to dominate the second half in an impressive 86-72 standing changing win.

It was a face paced, exciting, game of runs in the first half.

Tulane jumped out to 12-3 lead after a 6-0 start from the opening tip, to be answered with a 19-4 Miner charge, though Leslie Vorphal would cap off a 7-0 Green Wave storm with a 3-point play making it 25-22, with seven and a half minutes left in the first half.

That lead would stretch to 35-28 at halftime, thanks in part to 15 Miner first half turnovers leading to ten fast break points for Tulane giving them huge momentum.

Playing with superb poise in the second half, UTEP would out score Tulane 13-6 to open up the final half, cutting lead down to one after Kayla Thornton banged home a huge three pointer.

That would start a trend of huge three-point daggers that would help UTEP put the Green Wave away, securing this important four game upward trend.

Kelli Willingham started a 17-5 UTEP run with a three-ball, Kristine Vitola and Thornton netted a trey each during that run which gave UTEP 70-59 advantage after a pair of Jenzel Nash free throws.

Great ball control propelled UTEP to a 79-61 lead with just 2:30 left in the game.  UTEP turned it around with only five second half turnovers, flipping the fast break points their way, and cashing in on 22 points off turnovers to out score Tulane 58-37 in the final twenty minutes in the Big Easy.

Kayla Thornton will earn another C-USA Player of the Week award with her 29 point, 18 rebound effort, to go along with 4 assists.

Four Miners scored in doubled figures led by Thornton.  The point guard duo of Kelli Willimgham and Stacie Telles is becoming a lethal combo.

Willingham scored 14 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and handed out 4 assists, while Telles is finding the rhythm they both displayed early in the season with 11 points on 3/4 shooting from three-point land, adding 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Kristine Vitola also stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The Miners dominated the boards 53-40, and flipped 26 assists on 29 field goals, finishing 11 out of 22 from behind three three point line.

Tiffany Dale paced the Wave with 18 points, and 9 rebounds, though as a team they could not find the net from deep, shooting 3/27 from the three.

With four straight the wins the Miners have great momentum, and have displayed great poise to close out games, improving their record to 17-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play. Tulane had hold of second place before this one, and drops to 15-6 overall and an identical 6-2 conference mark.

It's back home to the Don for the Miners as they host LA Tech on Wednesday, and FIU on Saturday next week as conference play moves on.