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UTEP women's basketball: Gari Leads UTEP Over Rice

Junior guard Irene Gari put on a solid performance to help UTEP win their fourth straight and start 2-0 in C-USA action.

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Irene Gari recorded her first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds pushing UTEP over Rice 54-51 to win their fourth straight.

The Miners shot 43 percent in the first half, and went into the half with a 29-25 lead after Gari completed a three point play to end the first twenty minutes.

UTEP would outscore Rice 10-4 to open the second half, and held their largest lead of the game after a three point play from Sparkle Taylor gave UTEP a 39-29 lead with 14:09 left in the game.

A pair of free throws from Marta Miscenko held the UTEP lead at bay with 10:43 left in the second half as UTEP led 42-34.

Though the Miners suddenly went four minutes without a field goal from the 8:18 mark, and Rice went on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 49 with 2:07 to play.

Cameasha Turner put UTEP back in front at 51-49, then Rudiane Eduardo put back home an offensive rebound to give UTEP a 53-49 edge as time ticked to under a minute to play.

Rice would get a pair of free throws after Maya Hawkins was fouled on a three point attempt to come within a possession, but trailed 54-51 with 17 seconds, and needing a turnover.

Turner would be called for a travel on a loose ball during the ensuing possession, giving Rice two looks for a tie.

Although in the final eleven seconds of Rice desperation Stacie Telles blocked a three point try by Hawkins, and Christal Porter missed one final look for a tie as UTEP escaped with a 2-0 start to the C-USA slate.

Hawkins led Rice with a game high 23 points, the Owls held a 47-40 edge on the boards, and had 19 second chance points, but shot 31 percent from the field in the second half.

Gari was the lone Miner to score in double figures, though Turner added 4 points, three rebounds, and four steals, while Lulu McKinney added 5 points, three rebounds, and three assists.  Sparkle Taylor added 7 points in 11 minutes.

UTEP pounded the paint outscoring Rice 32-14 in the paint, and frustrated the Owls into a 2/13 mark from behind the three point line, and forced 18 turnovers.

The Miners win their fourth straight, and improve to 7-4 overall, and sport an early 2-0 mark to start the Conference USA portion of their schedule.

It may not be the cleanest way Keitha Adams wants to grab wins in the past few triumphs, but this young group has continued to find ways to win with Haskins style defensive principles and plain ole heart.

Things won't get easier as the Miners embark on a two game road swing starting with Louisiana Tech on Thursday, and Southern Miss. next Saturday.