UTEP forced 22 turnovers, and held UC-Riverside to 34.5 percent shooting from the field to hold off UC-Riverside 68-57 and move into the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic Championship Game tomorrow evening.
The Miners shot 40 percent from the field, led by Camaeahsa Turner with 11 points, while Starr Breedlove was the only other Miner in double figures with 10 points to help UTEP start the season 4-0.
Despite four UC-Riverside players scoring in double-figures, and a UTEP four minute scoring drought with the Miners holding a 17-point lead in the final four minutes of the game. UTEP cashed in on 23 points off turnovers, and scored 40 of their points in the paint mixed with a tough defensive stand late in the third quarter.
Back-to-back layups by Jenzel Nash capped off a 9-2 Miner run that started late in the second quarter, and lasted after Nash's pair of buckets gave UTEP a 39-29 lead with 7:35 left in the third quarter.
Simone DeCoud would hit a pair of free throws for the Highlanders two minutes later and cut the UTEP lead to 47-43 at the 2:33 mark of the third quarter.
Then UTEP turned it on.
Outscoring UC-Riverside 17-5 after UC-Riverside cut into the lead. the Miners took a commanding 64-48 lead thanks to a layup from Daeshianna McCants with six and a half minutes left in the ball game. UTEP led 68-51 with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter.
A group effort helped UTEP out rebound UCR 46-33, led by Nash who had seven boards for UTEP.
UTEP will face Idaho State at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow in the Don Haskins Center.