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UTEP Women's Basketball: Nash helps UTEP pull away from Northern Arizona 77-66

Jenzel Nash and the Miners tenacity on the offensive boards took over down the stretch as UTEP pulled away late from Northern Arizona

Four Miners scored in double figures, while the Orange and Blue shot 46.7 percent in the second half to pull away late from Northern Arizona 77-66 Tuesday night in the Don Haskins Center.

Jenzel Nash scored all of her 15 points in the second half to go along with nine rebounds, and a 8-of-10 performance from the free throw line to help UTEP start the season 2-0.

UTEP would start off super cold from the floor, going 5-of-21 from the field in the first quarter and held a narrow 16-13 lead after a nip-and-tuck first ten minutes between both squads.

Starr Breedlove would get UTEP going in the second quarter with a pair of free throws to break an 18-all tie.   Then a minute later she found Cameasha Turner for a wide open three pointer from the left corner in the midst of a 10-2 UTEP run that saw UTEP take a 28-20 lead with 2:49 left until halftime.

Breedlove would later get free for a fast break layup to give UTEP their largest lead of the half at 32-21 with  1:09 left, scoring 11 points in the first half with eight coming in the second quarter.

Northern Arizona would answer in the final minute of the half with a pair of three pointers from Alyssa Rader and Britiani Lusain that cut the Miners lead to a 34-27 UTEP advantage heading into the halftime break.

But then junior guard Cameasha Turner took over for a third quarter stretch that gave UTEP some much needed separation.

Turner drilled a three pointer, powered her way in for a layup, and then finished off a fast break chance with a layup from a feed from Breedlove to finish off a 14-9 spurt and put UTEP ahead 50-36 at the 4:51 mark of the third quarter.

Although Northern Arizona wouldn't go down quietly.

After a UTEP turnover in transition, Lusain would get the shooters roll from top of the key and cut the UTEP lead to 56-51 just 59 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back turnovers by UTEP, and few missed open looks kept the Miners scoreless for more than a five minute stretch while Passionate Amukamara finished a fast break layup to cap off a 14-2 NAU run, and brought the Lumberjacks within a bucket at 58-56 with under five minutes left in the game.

UTEP's Lawna Kennedy would then pull down an offensive rebound, and put it back home, plus the foul and free throw to put UTEP back in front 62-56 with 2:47 left in the ball game.

The telling stat of the game which would end up factoring in the outcome came from the free throw line.

UTEP shot 11-of-14 from the free throw line in the final two minutes, while Northern Arizona shot 11-of-23 from the charity stripe for the game including a few key misses down the stretch that sealed win number two for UTEP.

Breedlove filled up the stat sheet for UTEP scoring 13 points, and adding five assists, and five rebounds.  Sparkle Taylor added 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor, and Turner added 12 points, five rebounds, and five steals for the victorious Miners.

NAU shot 30.1 percent from the field in the game, and out rebounded UTEP 44-43 despite UTEP's 16 offensive rebounds in which six came from Jenzel Nash.

UTEP used 18 second chance points, led for 32:18 to put the scrappy, and hard fighting Lumberjacks away.

The Miners will host Hampton on Sunday afternoon with a 2:05 p.m. tip off in the Don.