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UTEP Shuts Down FIU 83-62

The Nation's leading scorer came up empty in the Haskins Center as Cameasha Turner and UTEP masterfully shut down FIU 83-62 Saturday night.

Al Carillo-AC Photo

Coming into Saturday nights game, all the focus was on two time All-American Jerica Coley from FIU.

After the game the focus turned to Cameasha Turner who shut her down, and the Miners running away with a 83-62 thumping of the Golden Panthers.

Turner drew the task of manning Coley, taking great pride, with outstanding effort in shutting down the talented guard.

Both teams started ice cold in the games first five minutes.  Coley was the poster child of the frigid start, going 2/10 from the field, frustrated by the matching quick first steps of the Dallas native Turner.

It was a back and forth physical affair in the first half once things got going.

UTEP found its self down 18-15, though a Kelli Willinghm triple would finish off a 9-0 UTEP run, flipping the lead 24-18 in favor of the orange and blue with 4:11 left in the first half.

Pounding the paint was a point of emphasis all night as UTEP took a 18-4 scoring advantage in the paint into the halftime break, along with a slim 30-25 lead.

The second half was all about Sparkle Taylor, and the relentless defense from the Miners that lead them to pull away from FIU.

Taylor scored 15 of her game high 16 points in the second half, UTEP as a team dominated all the hustle points including a 20-4 second half, second chance point margin.

Kayla Thornton notched her school record 14th double-double of the season, with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Taylor powered the Miners with a couple of hard fought three point plays that would fire up the crowd, and her teammates, she also added five rebounds.

In fact, the Miners hit their first 14 free throws of the night, and used a 30-15 second half run to jump out to their largest margin of the night at that point, 62-44 with a little under eight minutes left.

The Miners largest lead was 25 when Anete Kristiene high arched a 3-point dagger home to ice the cake with UTEP leading 78-53 as the game reached the two and a half minute mark.

Coley, who came in averaging 30.2 points per game, was held to 10 points, on 4/18 shooting, she had 7 until a late three pointer put her in double figures with under a minute left to play.

UTEP turned defense into offense, parlaying a 15-3 fast break domination, which the Miners would use in the last five minutes to put the Golden Panthers away, marking a sixth straight win for the home standing Miners.

Keitha Adams called it the best defensive performance of the season, and rightfully so.

FIU was bothered by the Miners smothering pressure, and length.  FIU shot 31 percent from the field for the game, and was out scored 53-37 in the second half by the defensive minded Miners.

Kristine Vitola added 12 points to the Miners domination in the paint, she also grabbed 6 rebounds, and was a perfect 4/4 from the charity stripe, she also swatted away 3 shots.

The emergence of Sparkle Taylor at this point of the season is just what the Miners need to be able to put teams away, has been a huge part of the home sweep of LA Tech and now FIU this past week.  I would expect a C-USA freshman of the week honor from the Miners talented freshman.

UTEP owned the boards with a 48-36 edge, and finished with 50 points in the paint, compared to 14 for FIU.

The win is also the 16th double digit scoring margin of the season, as the Miners charge on, but sit in a three-way tie for second place in the C-USA.

Next up is a two game road swing that will take the Miners to Old Dominion on February 15th, and North Texas on the 19th.

Playing in front of a season high 5,102 pink cladded Miner Maniacs, UTEP improves to 19-4 overall, and 8-2 in the conference.