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UTEP Women’s Basketball: Rice holds off UTEP 80-76

JORGE SALGADO

UTEP got another outstanding performance from Sparkle Taylor, but could not close the gap late as Rice escaped with a 80-76 win Saturday afternoon in the Don.

Taylor posted her second straight 30 point effort scoring 34 points to go along with 11 rebounds, but inconsistencies on the offensive end hurt UTEP despite a hard fought effort.

Rice was led by Nicole Iademarco who scored 23 points and Maya Hawkins who scored 25 points helping the Owls shooting 45.1 percent from the field, and 27-for-37 from the free throw line.

Taylor scored 12 first quarter points, but the Owls started 9-for-13 from the field to win the first quarter 22-20.

The Owls went on a nearly six minute scoring drought in the second quarter, but ended the quarter on a 7-2 run thanks to a UTEP drought and led 39-30 at halftime.

UTEP came out strong to open the second half, and took a 42-41 lead after a 3-pointer from Lulu McKinney at the 5:42 mark of the third quarter.

It remained a close game well into the fourth as a bucket from Tamara Seda made it 58-56 UTEP with 6:49 left in the fourth, but the Owls had an answer for seemingly UTEP counter.

Rice was able to get back the lead, but a jumper from Sparkle Taylor cut it to 62-60 with just under six minutes to play, then Hawkins and Iademarco dropped the game sealing daggers.

Each would hit a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions stretching the lead out to 68-60 with 3:50 left in the ball game.

The Miners kept chipping away as a late 3-pointer cut it to 78-76 with 20 seconds left, although Rice was poised at the line throughout the fourth quarter.

Tamara Seda also recorded a double-double with 13 points, and 10 rebounds, while Lulu McKinney scored 11 points, and added four assists and four rebounds.

UTEP shot 38.6 percent from the field, but also cashed in at the free throw line going 26-for-33 on the evening. Dropping to 3-11 in C-USA play, UTEP remains in 12th place in the league standings now having lost six in a row.

UTEP continues their four game homestand next Thursday against Florida Atlantic.