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UTEP Women's Basketball: Miners hold off LA Tech 86-80

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UTEP improves to 18-1 overall, with a 9-0 C-USA record.

Once again, the UTEP women's basketball team just finds ways to win, this time without making a field goal in the final seven minutes.

The Miners finished the game 0-of-10 from the field in the final seven minutes, but did not commit a single turnover in the second half to hold off a talented LA Tech team who came in on a four game winning streak 86-80 Saturday afternoon in the Don Haskins Center.

Starr Breedlove scored 20 points, Cameasha Turner added 19 points, and Sparkle Taylor came off the bench to score 10 points.

Turner, and Breedlove each went 7-of-8 from the free throw line, as the Miners finished 24-of-30 from the charity stripe to put the Lady Techsters away from the line down the stretch.

The first quarter saw LA Tech live at the foul line with a 10-of-15 mark, while Cameasha Turner scored eight first quarter points to keep the Miners at bay

But UTEP trailed 24-21 after a fast paced, back-and-forth opening quarter to start to the afternoon.

UTEP shot just 30 percent in the first 12 minutes of the game, but had eight second chance points, and a three pointer by Turner from the left wing gave UTEP a 26-24 lead with 8:13 left in the second quarter.

LA Tech held a 23-8 free throw attempt disparity in the first half, which played part in the longest run of the first half.

With UTEP up 39-35, Lulu McKinney was whistled for a personal foul, then she was hit with a technical which tied things up at 39 after four freebies in a row.

Brandi Wingate would get a bucket on LA Tech's next possession to polish off a 6-0 run and put the Lady Techsters in front 41-39 with 2:10 left until halftime.

That would be the last field goal LA Tech would get in the half as UTEP tightened up their defense and scored four in a row to end the half and take a 43-41 lead at the break.

Wingate scored 19 points in the first half, but Cameasha Turner and UTEP's team defense shut her down in the second half, limiting the the talented post to just three second half points.

The second half started in a much different fashion than the first 20 minutes as patient offense, and key stops helped UTEP take control.

Jenzel Nash would rip a steal that led to a Starr Breedlove three pointer on the other end, then Chrishuana Parker found Tuner right under the basket for a fast break layup to cap off a 6-0 run and their largest lead at that point of 49-41 just two minutes into the second half.

The cushion proved to be the difference for the rest of the third quarter as UTEP held a slim 9-7 rebounding advantage in the quarter and led 68-59 after the third.

A three pointer by Turner at the 7:09 mark of the fourth quarter gave UTEP a 75-65 lead, but that was the last field goal UTEP would get to fall the rest of the quarter.

LA Tech's Ashley Santos completed a three-point play with a nice fade away jumper, foul and the free throw to trim the UTEP lead to 75-68.

Then a UTEP scoreless streak actually proved to be the Miners best defense down the stretch.

The Miners went into an 0-of-8 stretch from the field in two UTEP trips up the floor that took more than three minutes off the clock thanks to a pair of LA Tech turnovers and four UTEP offensive rebounds that kept the clock ticking.

UTEP had plenty of good looks during that stretch, but came up with iron during a wild segment in where UTEP held the ball for 2:40, while LA Tech had a 10 second possession that resulted in a turnover.

Santos would end up knocking down another jumper during the UTEP cold streak to make things interesting with UTEP clinging to a 75-70 lead heading into the final three minutes.

With LA Tech in striking distance, and UTEP reeling to find the net, a flagrant foul on Jasmine LeBlanc virtually sealed the win in UTEP.

In a scrap for a loose ball, LeBlanc would be whistled for a loose ball foul, then appeared to throw her leg at a UTEP player and was ejected after a review by the officials.

Turner split the technical free throws, then Breedlove hit the original called foul free throws to put UTEP ahead 78-70 with 2:06 left to play.

UTEP went 9-of-10 from the free throw line in the final minute of the game to hold off LA Tech who continued to chip away down the stretch.

The Miners used 19 points off turnovers, and 15 second chance points, and out rebounded LA Tech 42-34 in the game.  Chrishuana Parker grabbed 10 rebounds, and Breedlove added seven rebounds.

Those stats proved to be the difference down the stretch as UTEP couldn't get one to fall, but frustrated LA Tech into tough shots, and finished with the defensive board.

Now things get really interesting on the upcoming schedule.

UTEP will face Marshall on Thursday, then will face Western Kentucky in what could be a battle for first place next Saturday afternoon.

But like Keitha Adams said after the game, its one game at a time, the right way to navigate through a possible special season.