In an incredibly electric and rowdy atmosphere, 4,517 fans witnessed the UTEP women's basketball team continue their magical season with a 66-62 win over Abilene Christian in their opening round matchup of the WNIT tournament.  The Miners extended their school record home winning streak to 17 games.

UTEP knew this would be a challenging game to say the least considering that ACU came into the contest with a 26-3 record, and were crowned Southland conference champions.  The Wildcats were also riding an eight game winning streak.

Following a strong first quarter where the Miners led 17-10, ACU stepped up their game in the second and trailed UTEP 30-23 at the half.  The second half was tense as ACU put together a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the game at 52-49 with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter.  The Miners continued to fight as they have all season long and went on a 9-1 run of their own over the next three minutes to solidify the win.

UTEP's smothering defense forced 18 turnovers and held ACU to 27.6 percent shooting throughout the contest, while their bench outscored the Wildcats' bench by a 25-7 margin.  The Miners shot an efficient 44.1 percent from the field, and maintained a tremendous advantage over Abilene Christian in the paint by outscoring them 44-18.  UTEP also dominated fastbreak points by outscoring the Wildcats 16-0.  One improvement that the team will be working on is free throws as they shot 50 percent for the game, making 13-26 from the charity stripe.

Photo by Brandon Cohn
Photo by Brandon Cohn

Starr Breedlove led all scorers for UTEP with 16 points, 4 boards, and 2 steals, while Cameasha Turner added 12 points and 7 rebounds, and Tamara Seda had her first career double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.  Lawna Kennedy also chipped in with 6 points, Jenzel Nash scored 7, and C-USA sixth player of the year Sparkle Taylor tallied 6 points.

With the win the Miners improved to 27-4 on the season, and advanced to the round of 32 in the WNIT to face Arkansas State on Monday night at 7:05 p.m.  You can listen to that game with Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller on 600 ESPN El Paso.