The UTEP women's basketball team swept both games of the 8th annual Thanksgiving Classic to move to 6-1 on the season.  The Miners knocked off Western Michigan 76-46 on Friday and Georgia State 71-68 to not only prevail in their tournament, but also secure the best start in coach Kevin Baker's tenure with the program.

In what was a riveting back-and-forth battle, the Miners forced 20 turnovers, and despite not having leading rebounder Ariona Gill, who was out with an ankle injury, and leading scorer Katarina Zec shooting 2-for-13, UTEP found a way to get the hard fought victory.

UTEP started three freshmen and it certainly paid off as Arina Khlopkova tallied a career-best 20 points, Katia Gallegos added 11 points, a career-high eight rebounds, and Avery Crouse also had a career-best 13 points.  Khlopkova also drew a charge late in the game to help secure the win, and has now scored 34-points in her last two games.

The game came down to the wire as it was tied at 68 with 1:42 to play when Gallegos split through traffic for the go-ahead lay-up.  Georgia State missed a pair of shots to either tie or retake the lead late, and  Khlopkova put the cherry on top for the win with a free throw with seven seconds left.  The Miners had a stellar final defensive stance where they didn't even allow Georgia State to get a potential game-tying three off at the buzzer.

Despite shooting 37.1 percent from the field, the Miners thrived in other aspects of the game such as shooting nearly 80 percent from the charity stripe.  Following the game Coach Baker noted,  "When you have a young team and you're starting three freshmen, you know you're talented, but you're wondering how talented and are you of a championship caliber?  I thought tonight's win showed we do have the grit it takes to be a champion."

The Miners will next host Weber State at 7 p.m. on Thursday.  Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso.



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