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UTEP women's basketball: Miners squander first half lead, fall to Marshall 76-71

A tough day in Miner Nation to say the least.

The Miners raced out to an early momentum grabbing lead, but Marshall weathered the Miners' storm with a second half run, and got a huge three pointer late that broke open a close final four minutes to beat UTEP 76-71 Saturday afternoon.

Marshall's Norrisha Victrum scored a game high 23 points, and with her team down 71-69 with under a minute to play, she nailed a three point dagger that would prove to be the eventual game winner.

Cameasha Turner scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half as her three pointer at the 10:04 mark of the first half gave UTEP a comfortable 29-14 lead.

The Miners did everything right on the stat sheet, they crushed the Herd on the boards with a 37-29 advantage including 15 offensive rebounds.  They were 20/23 from the free throw line, held a sizable advantage in bench scoring, but would go on a second half scoring drought that gave Marshall momentum and a lead.

UTEP led 41-33 at the half, but would only get two field goals in the first nine minutes of the second half, as Marshall went on a 14-0 run to take a 54-45 lead after a pair of free throws from Victrum.

But the Miners would quickly answer.

Sparkle Taylor would cap off a 9-2 UTEP run with a layup that closed the gap to a 61-60 Marshall lead with 4:07 left to play.

The only other Miner in double figures besides Turner was Lulu McKinney who chipped in 16 points, and the freshman sensation drilled a key three pointer with 2:32 to go that gave UTEP a 67-66 lead during two minutes of back-and-forth action between the teams.

A pair of free throws from Stacie Telles who finished with eight points, and five assists gave UTEP that 71-69 lead with 1:16 left, but after the triple via Victrum, the Miners missed their next two desperation looks at three in the final 40 seconds, and fell to 8-8 overall on the season.

UTEP got a huge first performance from Rudiane Eduardo who scored nine points, but failed to score in the second half, freshman Daeshianna McCants added eight rebounds and six points off the bench for UTEP.

The Herd shot 47.9 percent from the field, as UTEP finished 37.5 percent in large part to the second half scoring drought.

Leah Scott added 21 points, and seven rebounds for Marshall, both teams finished with nine three point makes on the afternoon.

After ending 2014, and starting 2015 on a four game winning streak, UTEP has now lost three of their last four, and drops to 3-4 in conference play.

Things won't get any easier for the Miners as they head out on the road for their next two with stops and UAB on Thursday evening, and then face Middle Tennessee who is tied for first place in the conference Saturday morning.