POSTED: Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 11:20pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 11:44pm
Junior forward Gloria Brown notched her third straight double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) while also blocking six shots to help the UTEP women’s basketball team topple Tulsa, 65-62, in overtime in the regular-season finale for both squads inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center Thursday evening.
Brown’s final blocked shot of the game was her biggest, coming with 40 seconds remaining in OT and the Miners (15-13, 7-9 C-USA) up 63-62. The Golden Hurricane’s (5-19, 1-15 C-USA) Virginia DeWare appeared poised to propel her squad into the lead with a short jumper but Brown came out of nowhere to swat the attempt.
The Miners tracked down the loose change and ran the clock down to less than 10 seconds before Tulsa managed to get the ball back off a steal. It could not convert on its final possession, though, and junior guard Dietra Caldwell iced the contest by calmly sinking two free throws with one second left.
The effort ensures UTEP’s school-record fifth straight season with a winning percentage of .500 or better. It also allows the Miners-winners of two of their past three- to enter the upcoming 2011 Conference USA Championships (March 9-12) with some momentum.
Kayla Thornton (11 points, eight rebounds) had a strong game, while Erika Warren (10 points) also got into double digits for the Orange and Blue. Ashley Milian and Caldwell each pitched in nine points while Kelli Willingham chipped in six points and three assists in a career-high 43 minutes played.
UTEP connected on 39.3 percent from the floor, including 46.2 percent in an impressive first half of action. The Miners out-rebounded Tulsa, 45-42, while also enjoying an advantage (30-16) in points in the paint.
Nothing came easy for the Golden Hurricane on offense, with a variety of looks by the Orange and Blue effectively stifling the home side’s approach. Tulsa was held to just 28.3 percent from the floor, but it did hit on 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from three-point land.
Chanice Scott led her team with a double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds), while Taleya Mayberry contributed 14 points before fouling out. Amanda Mason and Jermaine Kermis each registered nine points.
It was a back-and-forth affair early on, with Tulsa leading 9-8 at 16:05 of the first half. UTEP began to put things together, though, using a 14-2 run to stake a 22-11 advantage with 10:35 to play in the period. Tulsa managed to whittle it down to five (23-18) with 6:13 left in the first half but the Miners scored seven straight to re-instate a double-digit advantage.
The lead at the half was eight (33-25), but Tulsa used some steady defense while living at the free-throw line early in the second stanza to trim it three (38-35) at 12:56. UTEP regrouped nicely, and eventually extended its advantage to as many as 13 (55-42) with 3:42 remaining in regulation.
To their credit the Golden Hurricane continued to fight, and they would close out the period on a 14-1 push to force overtime. Mayberry capped the stretch by making two free throws with 14 seconds left. The Miners had a chance to win it in regulation but could not get the shot off before the buzzer sounded.
Brown set the tone for her squad in the extra period, with an old-fashioned three-point play giving UTEP a 59-56 edge on its second possession. The advantage remained three (61-58) with 2:52 in OT before Tulsa tallied four straight points to take its first lead since early in the game.
It was short-lived, however, with Kim Smith drilling a pair of free throws to put the Miners back on top for good. The Golden Hurricane had a couple of chances late, but couldn’t get it done thanks to the effort of Brown and company.