Things didn't start, nor end well for Keitha Adams and the Miners as Old Dominion knocked UTEP out of the Conference USA Tournament semifinals with a 66-54 defensive dispatching Friday morning.
UTEP shot an ice cold 28.8 percent from the field in the game, and only scored on 36 percent of their total possessions despite only committing 11 turnovers.
Old Dominion turned it over 21 times, but controlled the boards as UTEP was without leading rebounder Chrishuanna Parker who went down with an injury early in the game after playing only nine minutes.
The Miners just couldn't get in an offensive rhythm, and played catch up virtually the entire game.
UTEP finished the first quarter 4-of-14 from the field, and found themselves down 15-10 after the opening quarter.
The offensive struggle would continue into the second quarter as UTEP missed their first four looks from the field, while ODU extended their lead to 20-10 in the first two and a half minutes of the second quarter.
A 3-pointer from ODU's Rhaven Kemp at the 4:10 mark of the second quarter gave ODU all the momentum, and a 29-12 lead during a 17-2 run in an almost 16 minute span.
Although UTEP found some offense in the final three minutes of the second quarter, ending the half on an 8-2 spurt in the final three minutes but still trailed 33-22 at the half after shooting 22.6 percent in the first half.
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong in the opening half, but things got back to normal early on in the second half.
UTEP outscored ODU 12-4 in the first three minutes of second the half, including an 8-0 run which closed the gap, and trimmed the Monarchs' lead to 38-34 with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
The Miners would finally catch up, a Jenzel Nash free throw tied things up at 40, and then Nash answered an ODU bucket with a tough layup to tie things back up at 42 with two minutes left in the third.
ODU was able to open up a four point lead to end the third quarter which held strong into the fourth quarter despite a 3-minute ODU scoring drought with the Monarchs up 48-44 inside the six minute mark of the fourth.
UTEP went on a 3:46 scoring drought themselves, unable to take advantage of ODU's dry spell, meanwhile the Monarchs broke their drought and scored four straight to grab a 52-44 lead at the halfway point of the quarter.
ODU's Keyana Brown then dropped a 3-point dagger, capping off a 7-0 Monarch run which all of a sudden widened the run and lead to 55-44 Old Dominion with 4:43 left in the game.
UTEP answered with a 3-pointer by Starr Breedlove, and a layup by Cameasha Turner to cut the lead down the seven, but Gianna Smith banged home a triple to go back up by double digits 60-49 with 2:05 to go.
Jennie Simms scored 21 points, and added 10 rebounds for the Monarchs, leading all scorers, as ODU shot just 39.1 percent from the field, but outrebounded UTEP 47-36 which was a major difference in the game.
Turner led UTEP with 18 points, four rebounds, and five assists, Breedlove added 10 points, and Jenzel Nash pitched in 13 points, but shot 5-of-21 from the field. Breedlove was also 3-of-11 from the field.
Clearly a disappointing end to a tremendous bounce back season, but now UTEP's postseason hopes are in the hands of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
UTEP currently has the record, and RPI rating to garner a bid, but the overall resume isn't expected to be attractive despite the Miners passing the eye test.
It appears UTEP would be a top seed in the WNIT with their 26-5 overall record, but the main goal of running through the Conference USA Tournament was dashed in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.
"I feel we are an NCAA team." Keitha Adams said after the game. "26 wins and four losses shows you have something."
The nervous wait to Selection Sunday now starts.