UTEP Wins a 57-54 Nail Biter at Southern Miss
In a game that came down to the final seconds, UTEP defeated Southern Miss 57-54 in Hattiesburg, snapping their perfect 11-0 mark at home. Despite struggling down the stretch and missing key free throws, the Miners displayed brilliant resiliency by knocking off the Lady Eagles in a hostile environment. The Miners played without Sparkle Taylor who is battling the flu, and Lulu McKinney is also getting over being sick as well.
UTEP improved to 22-2, 13-1 in C-USA, and still holds a one game lead for first place in the conference standings. It was the third time this season that the Miners have ended an opponent's lengthy home winning streak as they stopped NMSU's 17 game home winning streak and WKU's 15 game streak too.
Cameasha Turner led all scorers with 20 points, Starr Breedlove tallied 12 and had five steals as well to enable the Miners to get a crucial win on the road. UTEP improved to 7-2 on the road this season. Jenzel Nash contributed with 9 points, while Chrishauna Parker and Tamara Seda had eight boards. Momentum was on the Miners' side early in the game as they came storming out to take an 18-7 lead in the first quarter, and took a 29-19 advantage into half time.
UTEP'S lead ballooned to 41-23 with 3:33 remaining in the third quarter, and they maintained a 53-43 edge with 3:32 left in the game before Southern Miss went on a furious run to end the game. The Lady Eagles scored nine consecutive points to cut the Miners' lead to 53-52 with 1:04 left in the contest. Starr Breedlove and Cameasha Turner then split a pair of free throws to increase UTEP's lead to three with :22 seconds left.
USM's Tajanay Veiga was then fouled and made both free throws to cut the deficit to 55-54 with six ticks left on the clock when the Lady Eagles fouled Lulu McKenney and she was cool as a cucumber by sinking both free throws to give the Miners a 57-54 edge with just four seconds to play in the game. Southern Miss had one final chance to potentially tie the game with a three but Starr Breedlove came to the rescue and stole the inbound pass to solidify the win for the Miners.
Overall the Miners struggled offensively by shooting 21-59 for 35.6 percent and committed 21 turnovers, but did out rebound the Lady Eagles 43-37. UTEP made 10 of 22 free throw attempts at a rate of 45.5 percent. Their defense was intense though as is always the case as they held USM to 18 of 50 shooting at a rate of 36.0 percent, and forced the Lady Eagles into committing 25 turnovers.
Winning isn't always pretty, but the bottom line in any game is get a W anyway you can. The Miners seem to be able to continuously overcome any obstacle that comes in their way, and no matter the environment or scenario, their championship qualities enable them to get the job done.
UTEP will have another tough assignment as they will now take on Louisiana Tech, who is 9-3 at home, and has the reigning C-USA sixth player of the year in Brandi Wingate. You can listen to that game from Ruston, LA on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. MST on 600 ESPN El Paso.