UTEP Wins the C-USA Championship in Double Overtime
The UTEP women's basketball team defeated Charlotte 94-91 in an epic double overtime thriller which enabled them to cut down the nets to celebrate their 2015-2016 C-USA championship at the Don Haskins Center on Saturday afternoon. It was the third C-USA regular season championship under coach Keitha Adams, as the 2008 and 2012 squads also won the title.
The Miners went out with a bang on senior day by celebrating their first ever C-USA crown at home in the history of the program, and finished the season 16-0 at the Don Haskins Center. With the victory, the Miners moved to 25-2, 16-1 in C-USA as they continue their "payback tour," which concludes next Thursday March 3, at UTSA.
What makes this conference championship so sweet is that UTEP was picked to finish 5th in the C-USA standings coming off of a 12-16 campaign last season. An energetic crowd of 4,012 fans witnessed a game that will go down as one of the more memorable ones in UTEP women's basketball history.
The game was extremely close and competitive throughout featuring eight ties and six lead changes. Charlotte came to El Paso on a five game winning streak, and had won their last three road contests. The Miners forced 30 turnovers, while committing only 12, and shot 42.2 percent from the field on 33-64 shooting. The turnover differential played a significant role in the Miners' victory as they scored 43 points off of the 49ers' blunders. UTEP's bench was exceptional as they outscored Charlotte's reserves 34-3.
Charlotte looked like they were on the verge of spoiling the Miners' perfect home record as they led 72-70 with 15 seconds to go in the game, and had possession of the ball. That's when the magic happened as Nash stole the inbound pass and was fouled. Nash went to the line and sank both free throws to tie the game. The two teams couldn't settle things in the first overtime as they scored a combined eight points.
The second OT became the Lulu McKinney show as she nailed two three pointers and scored 12 of her 18 points in the crucial extra session. The Miners controlled the game the rest of the way to solidify the win.
Four players scored double digit figures for the Miners as Jenzel Nash led the way with the best game of her career scoring 31 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Lulu McKinney tallied 18 points, Starr Breedlove added 13 points and Cameasha Turner contributed with 12. Chrishauna Parker had 7 key rebounds for the Miners as well.
There is a major difference between a good team and a great team; a great team always finds a way to win, despite the circumstances. It goes without saying that the 2015-2016 UTEP women's basketball team is a great team, one that deserves tremendous credit for their accomplishments. All their hard work, dedication, and perseverance paid off with a conference championship.
The sky is truly the limit for this squad, which will be remembered for years to come when it's all said and done. A team that deserves a legendary status for the adversity and obstacles they have overcome this season, is both humble and grateful for all they've accomplished, and the support they have received. Dreams can come true if you aim high and have a tremendous work ethic, the Miners are proof of that.
UTEP will conclude their regular season at UTSA next Thursday at 6:00 p.m. before heading to Birmingham, Alabama as the number 1 seed in the C-USA conference tournament championships the following week. You can listen to those games on 600 ESPN El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz.