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UTEP Women’s Hoops: Miners Crush Northern Arizona

EL PASO, Texas – The UTEP women’s basketball team forced 22 turnovers while also taking care of business at the free-throw line to hold off upset-minded Northern Arizona, 77-66, at the Don Haskins Center Tuesday evening. Playing for the second time in three days, the Miners (2-0) led for 32 of the 40 minutes and did just enough to gut out the win against the scrappy Lumberjacks (0-2).

UTEP relied on a balanced attack with four different players (Sparkle Taylor-15 points, Jenzel Nash-15 points, Starr Breedlove-13 points and Cameasha Turner-12 points) reaching double figures in scoring while junior Tamara Seda pitched in eight. The Miners overcame a slow shooting start to finish at 38.8 percent (26-of-67) from the floor, including 46.7 percent (14-of-30) over the final 20 minutes.

Visiting NAU also had a balanced approach on offense with five players tallying 10 or more points. The Lumberjacks actually finished with a better overall shooting percentage than the Miners, nailing 41.7 percent (25-of-60) from the floor but they were doomed due to difficulties at the line.

NAU was a paltry 47.8 percent (11-of-23) from the free-throw line, compared to UTEP’s solid effort of 70.0 percent (21-of-30). The Miners’ press also played a factor, converting the aforementioned 22 turnovers into 16 points. Second-chance points (18-8), points in the paint (42-30) and bench points (28-19) all favored UTEP as well.

“Give credit to Northern Arizona for playing a hard and spirited game,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We didn’t have our best intensity on the floor today and we lost our composure and let them back in but we recovered and finished it out. We’ll take the win but we know we’ve got to play better.”

Turner wreaked havoc on NAU with five steals while Nash added three of her own. The redshirt-junior also got after it on the glass by grabbing a career-best nine rebounds while Breedlove, Turner and Chrishauna Parker each secured five.

It was a back-and-forth game for most of the first half before the Miners used a 10-1 run late in the second quarter to help grab a seven-point lead (34-27) at the break. UTEP extended the advantage to as many as 15 (52-37) with 3:38 remaining in the third quarter, but NAU refused to go away.

The Lumberjacks slowly chopped away at the deficit, eventually whittling it all the way down to two (58-56) with 4:47 remaining in regulation. UTEP kept its composure, though, with a Nash free throw and an old-fashioned three-point play by senior Lawna Kennedy putting it up six (62-56) with 2:55 to play. NAU never got closer than four the rest of the way out, with the Miners making 11-of-14 at the line in the final three minutes to help put things away.

UTEP will be idle until it plays host to Hampton (free admission) at 2:05 p.m. MST Sunday, but fans are invited to be a part of the first Keitha Adams radio show from 6-7 p.m. MST Wednesday.

The show will be held at Rulis’ International Kitchen (4176 North Mesa Street), with Coach Adams talking all things UTEP women’s basketball with Steve Kaplowitz. There will be a Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m. with the following specials: $4 street tacos, $5 single-topping pizza, $5 nacho charros, $1 off beer and $2 off glasses of wine, Keitha Adams Radio Show Special: 1/2 pound grass-fed burger, and a 16-ounce craft beer for only $10. Those unable to attend can listen live on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio.

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