Sunday's game featured two of the top defensive teams in Conference USA, so its no surprise the winner would have to survive a defensive slug fest.
Keitha Adams made the key move on the chess board as she unleashed UTEP's signature full court trapping 2-2-1 press that proved to be the difference with UTEP forcing more than 20-turnovers for the 11th time this year in a 62-54 win over UAB.
UAB turned it over 25 times, shot just 35.1 percent from the field in the game, and were outscored 41-26 in the second half to drop the Blazers to 7-7 overall, and 0-3 in C-USA play, while UTEP charged ahead to 13-1 overall, and 4-0 in conference play.
Sparkle Taylor led all scorers with 21 points, on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, Jenzel Nash added 14 points, and six rebounds for UTEP who shot just 37.1 percent from the field and were out rebounded by UAB 43-40.
UAB controlled the first half with stellar man-to-man defense, and actually led for almost thirty minutes.
UTEP turned it over five times in the first quarter, and shot just 29.4 percent from the field, while UAB's Chelsee Black hit a pair of three's to give UAB a 15-11 lead after the first quarter.
Using their tough to figure out man-to-man as the UTEP cold spell continued into the second quarter. UAB forced UTEP into a 2-of-14 stretch from the field in the second quarter, while UTEP scored on just 28.9 percent of their first half possessions trailing the Blazers 28-21 at halftime.
Even though the shots weren't falling, UTEP's own defensive play kept them within striking distance.
The Miners used 10 points off 13 forced turnovers in the first half, and were 7-of-11 from the free throw line in the opening half.
UAB held a 42-36 lead after the third quarter even though UTEP cut the lead to just two twice in the quarter. But T'erra Lewis and the Blazers had an answer for every UTEP spurt with Lewis scoring all 10 of her points in the third quarter.
Sporadically using full court pressure in the third quarter, UTEP's fourth quarter execution with the 2-2-1 press got the offense going via a slew of UAB turnovers. It also got Sparkle Taylor's jumper going.
Taylor would force a steal, and then finished a fast break with a layup for a 9-2 UTEP run putting the Miners in front for the first time since the opening minutes of the first quarter for a 47-45 lead at the 7:18 mark of the fourth quarter.
The run would be stretched to 13-5 after a Jenzel Nash jumper from the right wing, then a pair of free throws from Sparkle Taylor saw UTEP grab a 51-45 lead with UAB turning over five straight times in a four minute stretch during the run.
The Blazers cut it to four twice in the final four minutes, but UTEP scored on their final six possessions to put UAB away for their ninth straight home win.
Cameahsa Turner flirted with a triple-double posting 13 points, 11 rebounds, and eight steals in the win.
UTEP has shown the ability to just blow teams away, play in a nip-and-tuck battle, and now showed the ability to trail for almost thirty minutes, but muster up enough defense to shut a team down all while using efficient execution on their fast break looks for momentum.
The home stand will continue next Saturday as the Miners host UTSA Saturday afternoon in the Don.