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UTEP women's basketball: Lady Toppers hold off Miners 80-74

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The UTEP women's basketball team fought hard against the 24th ranked team in the nation, but fell short in a 80-74 loss to Western Kentucky.

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The UTEP's women basketball team hit 10 three pointers, out-rebounded WKU 41-35 with 15 offensive boards, but couldn't cut the gap in the second half, falling 80-74 to 24th ranked Western Kentucky Thursday night.

Cameasha Turner scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and handed out five assists, but UTEP turned it over 24 times, and WKU was 30/36 from the free throw line to close out the upset minded Miners.

The long ball would keep UTEP afloat in the first half with Stacie Telles hitting a pair of trifectas, and Anete Kirsteine came up huge with a trio of deep balls in the first half.   But it was Sparkle Taylor who completed an and-one to tie things up at 28 with 1:03 left until halftime.

The Lady Toppers held a 32-30 halftime lead, and scored five straight out of the break, then later in the frame the Toppers went on an 8-2 run to grab a 58-49 lead after Tashia Brown laid one in for a deuce with 8:10 left to play.

Lulu McKinney and Turner would score 15 of UTEP's next 16 points over the next five minutes or so and cut the WKU lead with a three pointer by Turner that brought the Miners within four at 69-65 with 2:40 left.

Kirsteine finished with 15 points on the night all coming via the long ball, and drilled a key three pointer with 21 seconds left to give UTEP some life trailing 76-71.

But WKU would hit 10 free throws in a row in the final minute of the game to seal the deal, and keep their throne a top the conference standings.

Micah Jones was 10/12 from the free throw line, and finished with 22 points and five rebounds, Chastity Gooch added 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven steals.  Tashia Brown chipped in 17 points, and Alexis Govan added 10 points for WKU who shot just 38.3 percent from the field, and were 4/18 from three.

The Miners shot 39.7 percent from the field, and also got 16 points from Lulu McKinney, though only two out of the ten Miners who saw action had less than two turnovers each leaving tons of chances and what if's out on the floor.

The setback dimples UTEP's record to 8-7 overall, and 3-3 in the C-USA slate, WKU improves to 17-2 overall, winning their 14th straight, and start 6-0 in their inaugural C-USA campaign..

While the young Miners struggled with the defensive pressure from WKU, some confidence has to be built by hanging with a team who will surely be a long distance runner in the NCAA Tournament this season.

Keitha Adams' group has grown immensely over the past few weeks, though have now lost two straight, and will be tested with a chance to rebound against Marshall (11-6, 3-3) at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time on the Don on Saturday.