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UTEP Women's Basketball: Oregon overcomes slow start to drop UTEP out of WNIT

The Ducks withstood a poor offensive start, and put the Miners away down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

It was another magical ride for the UTEP's women's basketball team, but all good things come to an end as the Oregon Ducks overcame an early deficit, and simply out scored UTEP down the stretch to move onto the WNIT semifinals with a 71-67 win Monday night in front of 9,055.

Each of the Duck's five starters reached double figure scoring numbers, and the nation's leading 3-point shooting team shot 8-of-14 from 3-point land in the game.

Lexi Peterson led Oregon's balanced attack with 16 points, Matie Cazoria, Lexi Bando, and Kat Cooper each added 14 points, and Jacinta Vandenberg added 10 points, and nine rebounds for the Ducks who will move onto play South Dakota in the WNIT semifinals.

The Ducks finished the night shooting 51 percent from the field after a 3-of-19 start from the field, and outscored UTEP 47-37 in the second half.

With the crowd in full throat, and rocking even before the tip, UTEP got off to a tremendous start, and the Ducks look rattled early on by the rowdy Don Haskins Center faithful.

Oregon started 0-of-6 from the field, while UTEP raced out to a 13-4 lead at the 4:04 mark of the first quarter.

UTEP scored five straight to end the quarter, and led 20-9 after the opening 10 minutes.

Lulu McKinney brought the crowd into a frenzy with a 3-pointer to open the second quarter scoring just 19 seconds in to push UTEP's lead to 23-9, but the Ducks found themselves during the second quarter.

The Ducks started 3-of-19 from the field, but finished 5-of-6 from the floor in the final five minutes of the half, as UTEP went on an almost five minute scoring drought during the stretch which helped Oregon close the gap.

Kat Cooper threw in a 3-pointer from the right corner, cutting UTEP's lead to 29-24 with under two minutes left, the Miners would lead 30-24 at the halftime break.

After a 50-percent start from the field in the first quarter, UTEP ended the half shooting 39.4 percent from the field, while Oregon got 10 first half points from Maite Cazorla to match UTEP's hot start.

The third quarter was a physical slug fest, that featured physicality under the baskets, and an exciting sequence of back-and-forth 3-pointers.

Camesha Turner knocked down a 3-pointer to put UTEP ahead 59-50, but Lexi Peterson answered with a 3-ball, then two free throws from Lexi Bando trimmed the UTEP lead to 39-35 at the halfway point of the third quarter.

Jenzel Nash would then hit a 3-pointer to put UTEP ahead 45-37 with 3:10 left in the third, then Oregon scored five straight including another triple from Cooper to bring the UTEP lead to 45-42 with 2:13 left in the quarter.

The 3-point barrage would continue as Breedlove answered Cooper's 3-pointer with a triple, but Bando had the last dagger from deep, then Peterson got inside for a layup with UTEP leading 48-47 in the final minute of the third quarter.

UTEP took a 50-49 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Ducks could not be stopped in the final quarter.

Starr Breedlove came up with a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 60 with 3:19 left after the Miners played catch up in the previous five minutes.

Although the Ducks would go on a 10-0 run in a 1:48 span to grab a 68-60 edge after a dagger 3-pointer from Peterson with 1:07 left which let all the air out of the Don.

Nash would give UTEP some hope with a steal and bucket to cut the Ducks' lead to 70-66 with 20 seconds left, but Turner would split a pair of free throws at the line with UTEP trailing 71-66, and time ran out as the Miners scrambled for a bucket as the final seven seconds ticked down.

Both Breedlove, and Nash scored 17 points each, Turner led the Miners with 19 points, but the Miners shot 4-of-12 from the free throw line for the game.

After that ice cold 3-of-19 start, Oregon finished the game 22-of-30 from the field, and 7-of-10 from 3-point land in the final 15 minutes as they started to cut into UTEP's double digit lead midway through the second quarter.

For the first time all season UTEP lost while forcing 20 turnovers, and 20-plus points off turnovers, cashing in on 28 points off Oregon turnovers in the game.

UTEP's inability to stop the Duck's pick-and-roll, and the Ducks executing their adjustments proved to key in the second half surge by Oregon.

The Miners season ends at 29-5 overall, but once again the Miners captured a fan base's love for their hometown school with a postseason run.