UTSA’s Tesha Smith came up with a put back bucket with four seconds left in overtime which lifted the Roadrunners over UTEP 83-81 in a thrilling overtime conference opener.
Smith finished with 18 points off the bench as UTSA battled through a rough shooting night by getting to the free throw line 31 times, and pulled in 16 offensive rebounds to start C-USA play 1-0.
UTEP was led by Sparkle Taylor who scored a game high 28 points, Najala Howell also scored 20 points, but UTEP shot 41.5 percent in the end, and couldn’t close out that final rebound in overtime.
The Miners found themselves down 39-30 late in the first half, but ended the final two minutes of the first half with a 7-0 run and trailed 39-37 at halftime.
The lead changed hands 14 times in the game, and went into the fourth quarter knotted up at 61-all.
Things remained nip-and-tuck for the entire fourth quarter, and it was Howell who came up huge when things look liked they were going to slip away from UTEP.
Howell missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left and UTEP down 73-70, but Faith Cook scrapped for the rebound, and kicked it out to Howell who tied the game with .5 seconds left sending things to overtime.
The lead changed six times in overtime period, and Howell’s jumper put UTEP ahead 80-77 with 2:24 left in the extra period. Although UTEP would miss their last four looks from the field, and Smith came away with the go ahead bucket that dismantled a hard fought UTEP effort.
Zuzanna Puc had one last look as time ran out in overtime, but missed as UTEP falls to 3-10 overall on the season.
Lulu McKinney and Tamara Seda each added 11 points for UTEP, although both fouled out. Seda also grabbed 10 rebounds, and McKinney dished out eight assists.
UTEP was also active on the offensive glass with 18 second chance points, and out scored UTSA 40-28 in points in the paint.
The Miners went 5-for-17 from 3-point land, although UTSA hit nine of their 21 attempts from long distance and were led by Loryn Goodwin who scored 26 points, and went 12-for-13 at the free throw line.
Next up, UTEP will host Louisiana Tech next Thursday at 7 p.m. Mountain Time.