POSTED: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 10:20pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 11:41pm
Gloria Brown registered her ninth double-double of the season (14 points, 12 rebounds) to lead a trio of players in double figures, and UTEP executed on both ends down the stretch in an eventual 64-54 win against Tulsa at the Donald W. Reynolds Center Thursday evening.
The Miners (23-2, 12-0 C-USA), who led wire-to-wire, closed the contest on a 9-2 run to stay perfect in Conference USA play while sealing their 13th consecutive victory overall. It marks the 12th straight triumph in the series against the Golden Hurricane (10-13, 5-7), who drop to 8-4 at home in 2011-12.
UTEP connected on 42. 4 percent from the floor, including hitting 9-of-18 from beyond-the-arc. It registered 14 assists to 13 turnovers, and made 5-of-7 at the free-throw line.
Kelli Willingham tallied 12 points, all on first-half treys, while Anete Steinberga added 10. Sophomore Kayla Thornton tallied nine points, with five of them over that final 2:49. She buoyed Brown in the rebounding department with 11 boards, helping the Miners control the glass to the tune of 41-34.
“It was a good road win for us,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We had a nice combination of inside-out on offense, and got stops when we needed them.”
Taleya Mayberry had a game-high 18 points while Taylor Hooker finished with 13, but no other Tulsa player contributed more than six points. The Miners varied their defensive looks, and kept the home side to 36.2 percent (21-of-58) from the floor.
It was back-and-forth early on, with UTEP holding an 11-7 lead at 15:45 of the first half. Things changed quickly, though, with the Miners ripping off eight straight points as part of an eventual 17-4 surge to secure a 28-11 lead with 10:55 left.
The margin was 14 (37-23) with 3:13 to play, but TU managed to get it going. It scored eight of the final nine points of the period to trim the deficit to seven (38-31) heading into halftime. It continued to chip away in the second stanza, reducing the edge to one (44-43) with 12:47 remaining in regulation.
Steinberga sank consecutive free throws, though, which were the first two points of an eventual 8-0 run. To its credit Tulsa continued to play hard, and it managed to get back within three (55-52) with 2:49 to play.
Adams’ squad never panicked, though, with Thornton sinking a long two and then her second three pointer of the season to reinstate an eight-point cushion (62-50). TU never got closer than six from that point, with the Miners closing out the contest in style.
UTEP will play its second straight game on the road when it takes on Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion at 12 p.m. MST on Sunday.