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Charlotte storms back to beat UTEP 84-74

CHARLOTTE, N.C.- The UTEP women’s basketball team fought hard but was upended in the regular-season finale by a count of 84-74 at Charlotte Saturday evening.

The Miners (8-22, 5-13 C-USA) came out firing to lead by as many as 15 (37-22, 6:49 second quarter) but to their credit the 49ers (20-9, 12-6 C-USA) fought back. They did so primarily at the charity stripe, making 22-25 tosses. UTEP finished at 6-8 from the line, and was tagged for 25 of the 35 infractions in the contest.

The Miners shot 43.7 percent (31-71) from the floor-compared to the 49ers’ readout of 38.4 percent (28-73) and kept it close on the glass (Charlotte, 47-40), yet the discrepancy at the line proved to be too much to overcome.

“I’m proud of our team for playing team ball today,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We executed and passed the ball but got in some foul trouble. We’re closer than what we think. Charlotte is one of the better teams in the conference. We competed and played hard.”

The Miners relied on a balanced offensive attack with seven different players tallying at least six points in the contest. Tamara Seda (17 points, eight points) and Najala Howell (11 points, six rebounds) hit double digits in scoring to key the efforts but there were plenty of other notable performances. Lulu McKinney scored eight points while also dishing out eight assists.

Freshmen Jakeira Ford and Zuzanna Puc also pitched in eight points while senior Sparkle Taylor scored six points to go along with eight rebounds. Freshman Roeshonda Patterson drilled a pair of triples for six points.

Charlotte was top heavy in its play, as Grace Hunter (30 points, 15 rebounds) and Ciara Gregory (26 points) combined for 56 points. No other player reached double figures in scoring for the 49ers, although Lefty Webster (nine points, five boards) and Laia Raventos (seven points, five rebounds, five assists) filled up the stat sheet.

Taylor has now tallied 539 points this season, the fourth-most points ever by a Miner during a campaign. Meanwhile McKinney’s 149 assists in 2016-17 also rank fourth on UTEP’s single-season charts.

The Miners will now flip the script with a fresh start at the 2017 C-USA Championships Presented by MetroPCS. UTEP will be the 11th seed and match-up with sixth-seed Old Dominion in an opening-round contest at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST in Birmingham, Ala. Wednesday.

“We’ve still got a chance to have that ‘ah-hah’ moment where the light turns on for this young team,” Adams said. “It’s frustrating and disappointing but we have to delete everything bad that’s happened in the past. Next week is like a brand new season. We get a chance to play against Wednesday night.”