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UTEP Puts LA Tech Away, Advances To Semis

UTEP rode with stood a pesky run by the Techsters to advance into Friday mornings Semi Final Game.

Tom Gonzales-MinerRush

Kayla Thornton returned in more than a huge way, leading UTEP with 25 points, 12 rebounds, as the Miners advanced to the Conference USA tournament semifinals with a 81-71 win over Louisiana Tech.

The Miners overcame a slow start to the game, in large part to the Louisiana Tech's great zone defense they came out in.

LA Tech jumped out to an early 7-1 lead, though the Miners weathered the early slow start to grab a 28-23 lead at the half.

The first seven minutes of the second half were nip and tuck, with neither team able to stretch a lead past four points.

Though it was JaQuan Jackson who nailed a jumper at the 11:32 to mark to give LA Tech a 48-43 lead.

But an upset was not in the works tonight.

UTEP went on a 17-2 run, sparked by 11 points in that stretch by Jenzel Nash that put LA Tech away for good.

Kayla Thornton laid one in to give UTEP a 14-point margin with 3:41 left in the game setting up the semifinal date.

Nash scored 23 off the bench, Kristine Vitola added 12 points, and 6 rebounds for the victorious three seeded Miners.

Kelia Shelton poured in 25 points for the Techsters, though they committed 14 turnovers and were limited to 36 percent shooting from the field.

After a rugged start, the Miners still managed to shoot 47 percent, and cashed in 13 points off turnovers in the second half.

UTEP has been a true second half team all year, when the Miners dial up the defense, they are tough to beat.

The Miners will now face two seed Southern Miss. who defeated Old Dominion 84-63.

Kayla Thornton just needs five more points to become UTEP's all time leading scorer.

You can find the game on CBS Sports Network at 11 am Mountain Time from the Haskins Center.

Make sure to stay tuned to MinerRush for in depth coverage of the Conference USA tournament, as well as all things UTEP sports. Also, make sure to on Twitter and as always don't forget to like our Facebook Page. Picks Up, and Go Miners!