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Thornton Powers UTEP Past Arkansas State

Kayla Thornton showed the home crowd she isn't ready for her UTEP career to be over, leading UTEP in a 74-64 win over Arkansas State.

Tom Gonzales-MinerRush

El Pasoan Kayla Thornton scored 28 points, to go along with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 7 steals to lead UTEP into the WNIT round of 32, with a first round, second half thumping of Arkansas State 74-64.

Things were air tight in the first frame, until Arkansas State jumped out to a seven point lead thanks to a 7-2 run.

Hanna Qedan sank a triple, giving the Red Wolves an early 18-11 lead with 12:42 to play, after a true March Madness themed start to the evening.

UTEP would go on to score the next six points, including a triple from Thronton, though Aundrea Gamble's jumper would give Arkansas State a 22-17 lead right at the ten minute mark, finishing off four straight from the Wolves.

The Miners would outscore Arkansas State 14-8 in the last six minutes of the half, as both teams went into the break tied at 33, after the first twenty minutes saw five ties, and six lead changes.

Then the tide turned fully into the Miners way.

UTEP dug in on defense, jumping passing lanes, and held Arkansas State scoreless for a five minute stretch to open the second half, leading to a charging 16-4 UTEP run, giving UTEP a 49-37 lead after Sparkle Taylor split a pair of free throws at the 13:33 mark of the second half.

Thornton snagged four of her game high seven steals in the second half, leading the Miners' All-Time Leading Scorer to three break away layups in the contest that got the home crowd going.

The closest Arkansas State would sniff the rest of the way was 53-47 when Brittney Gill got free for a layup, though UTEP continued to get key stops, turning 17 Red Wolves turnovers into 22 points, 13 of those points were given up in the second half surge by UTEP.

Sparkle Taylor finished with 12 points on 5/8 shooting from the field, while Chrishauna Parker also added 12 points, recording a double-double with 11 rebounds.

Thornton nailed a jumper that gave UTEP is largest lead 66-50, with 5:16 remaining, part of a 7-0 UTEP run to put Arkansas State away, and advance UTEP into the next round of the WNIT.

The Red Wolves shot 33 percent in the second half, and were led by Gamble's 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists, Qedan added 15 for Arkansas State.

UTEP (25-7) moves on the the round of the 32 where they will face St. Marys (California), on Monday 7:00 PM in the Don Haskins Center.

Doing what you have to do to win in March, making shots, and get stops, UTEP looked very strong and determined lead by their senior leader.

The Miners did what they normally do in their 20th win by double digits on the season, force turnovers, and get out an run, a deep postseason run looks to be in the works for Keitha Adams' bunch.