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UTEP Women’s Basketball: Defense pushes UTEP past LA Tech 69-62

JORGE SALGADO

Sparkle Taylor scored 25 points, and added eight rebounds, leading a gritty UTEP defensive effort that carried UTEP over LA Tech 69-62 Thursday night.

UTEP held LA Tech to a 27.4 percent shooting night from the field, they also blocked six shots, and dominated the glass with a 51-40 advantage giving them their first C-USA win on the season.

Najala Howell came of the bench and added 14 points, Lulu McKinney also added 14 points. Both were solid at the free throw line going a combined 14-for-16.

UTEP finished the night 21-for-29 at the free throw line as a team, and picked up their third win of the season improving to 3-10 overall.

Both teams traded blows and buckets in a very closely played first half. UTEP’s Ax Bernard hit a 3-pointer with 2:45 left in the quarter, tying the game at 27 which sparked a strong first half finish for the Miners.

A 9-1 UTEP run is how the half would end fueled by a 3-pointer from McKinney, then Taylor came up with a bucket four seconds before the halftime buzzer giving UTEP a 35-28 momentum grabbing lead at the break.

The momentum carried well into the third quarter as a three-point play from Howell pushed the UTEP lead to 46-33 with 4:57 left in the third.

UTEP led 53-43 heading into the fourth quarter, but went 2-of-12 from the field in the final 10 minutes, and the Lady Techsters cut the lead down to 64-60 with 43 seconds left during a 12-3 run in just under three minutes.

McKinney made three free throws in a row in the closing moments, while LA Tech missed on all seven tries from behind the 3-point arch in the fourth quarter.

Taylor went over the 1,000 point career mark in the game, shooting 11-for-16 from the field, she also collected four steals before fouling out.

The Miners will host friendly women’s hoops rival Southern Miss Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center.