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UTEP women's basketball: Season ends with 63-52 First Round loss to UAB

UTEP couldn't come up with enough plays, and stops throughout, falling to C-USA Tournament host UAB 63-52 in Bartow.

Two winning traits that are desperately needed to especially win in March were just outside of UTEP's grasp Wednesday morning in Birmingham.

UTEP could not consistently muster enough stops, and could not efficiently convert on the offensive end, thus ending their season with a 63-52 set back to UAB in the First Round of the Conference USA Tournament.

The Miners would get off to a sluggish offensive start, committing six turnovers with only two field goals in the first eight minutes of the game, and found themselves trailing 15-5 during the under 12 timeout with 11:17 left in the first half.

But then Anete Kirsteine would connect on a pair of three pointers, followed up by another three pointer from Sparkle Taylor to cap off a 9-2 UTEP run, forcing a UAB timeout with the Blazers leading 17-14 with 7:31 to play until halftime.

Keeping UAB off the boards was a big issue throughout the tilt, the Blazers out rebounded UTEP 47-29 for the game, although Sparkle Taylor would a hit a tough buzzer beater from deep to cut the Blazer lead to 26-20 at halftime despite a rough going for UTEP in the first 20 minutes.

UAB would out score UTEP 11-6 in the first five minutes of the second half, followed by a 5-0 swing for UTEP after that point.  UAB in turn would stretch their lead to 44-30 via an offensive rebound and put back by T'erra Lewis with 12:59 left to play.

The Blazers sustained the double digit lead over the next six minutes, but the Miners kept scrapping, and clawing, eventually cutting the deficit inside 10 points.

Stacie Telles drilled a three pointer from the corner at the 6:25 mark, cutting the UAB lead to 60-53, giving UTEP a huge boost of life support.

UAB's First Team All-Conference selection Janae Smith showed why she was voted all-league; Smith scored a game high 24 points, to go along with 11 rebounds to lead the Blazers.

Chelsee Black added 17 points, and sharp shooter Miranda Burroughs nailed four three pointers for all 12 of her points for UAB.

Smith converted a dagger three point play as UAB reeled off five straight after UTEP got within single digits, stretching the advantage to 55-43 Blazers with time ticking under 4:30.

The Miners could not enough make enough plays and magic down the stretch to keep their season alive, as UAB sealed UTEP's trip back home in the final four minutes.

Sparkle Taylor was the only Miner to score in double figures pouring in 22 points; Stacie Telles ended her UTEP career with nine points, and five assists, while Cameasha Turner had a rough shooting night, but managed eight points, and collected four steals.

The Miners shot 30.2 percent from the field compared to the 46 percent UAB shot, the Miners forced 23 turnovers, but went 8/23 from behind the three point line.

UTEP ends their season with a 12-16 record, but the future is bright with a number of key contributors returning.   Also expected back is Chrishuanna Parker who missed the entire season with a concussion, and former C-USA Sixth Player of the Year Jenzel Nash who has been with back with the team recently.

It was a struggle, growing pain like 2014-15 season, but sometimes you have to die to go to heaven, and with Keitha Adams at the helm, next year holds tons of promise for the Women's program.