UTEP Falls 72-68 in Overtime Thriller at No. 24 Middle Tennessee
EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- For the second time this season, UTEP and Middle Tennessee played an instant classic on Saturday afternoon, this time with the Lady Raiders flipping the script to come out on top 72-68 in overtime in the Murphy Center.
The Miners (19-10, 12-8 C-USA) had initially jumped ahead 65-63 on an Elina Arike 3-point play just over two minutes into overtime, however Middle Tennessee (25-4, 18-2 C-USA) went on to score nine of the final 12 points.
In order to force the extra period, the Miners erased a 15-point third quarter deficit.
Trailing 47-35 at the onset of the fourth, UTEP wasted little time punching back over the final 10 minutes.
Jazion Jackson started things with a 3-pointer, one of her three on the day, just 15 seconds in.
Following a Jalynn Gregory layup to push the Lady Raiders back up 11, the Miners would rattle off eight straight points.
Avery Crouse kickstarted the run with a beautiful dribbling display to weave past the Middle Tennessee defense for the hoop and the harm with 8:33 remaining.
After the Crouse conversion on the 3-point play, Adhel Tac strung together five points in a row of her own to bookend the rally.
Once again, Gregory delivered the response for the Lady Raiders, sinking a jumper to go up five.
The biggest UTEP run of the game followed, with the Miners scoring 10 straight to build a five-point advantage with 2:11 left.
Four different players scored over the stretch. Tac tied the game initially at 55 by draining an open jumper. She then made it 60-55 with an athletic spin move in the paint to clear space for a layup.
Trailing 60-57 with under a minute to play, Middle Tennessee’s Courtney Blakely received an outlet pass into the right side of the key, battling through contact to earn a 3-point play that tied the game at 60. Things then remained even the rest of the way to force overtime.
On the interior, the duo of Arike and Tac combined to score nearly half of the UTEP points.
Arike led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds. Tac was a point away from tying her career high, contributing 16 points with four rebounds and three assists.
Jackson reached double figures with 11 points, while N’Yah Boyd approached triple-double territory with seven points, nine boards and seven assists. The nine rebounds marked a career best.
The effort against the Lady Raiders marked the second time this season that the Miners have pushed the conference champions to the wire, with UTEP coming out on top 65-62 on Feb. 2 in El Paso.
Middle Tennessee ends the regular season a perfect 14-0 at home.
WKU and Rice both won on Saturday, meaning UTEP would have been the No. 4 seed into the C-USA Championships regardless of the outcome against Middle Tennessee. The Miners will play No. 5 seed LA Tech in the quarterfinals next Thursday at 10:30 a.m. MT/11:30 a.m. CT.