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Miners Overcome 19-point Deficit to beat Memphis

Sports

POSTED: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 6:16pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 1:13pm

UTEP equaled the biggest comeback in school history, erasing a 19-point halftime deficit to down Memphis, 66-60, in front of a season-best 3,052 fans and a nation-wide television audience (Fox Sports Networks) inside the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon. Freshman Jenzel Nash scored 17 points-all over the final 20 minutes- to help fuel the emotional rally.

The Miners (13-2, 2-0 C-USA) blitzed the Tigers (11-4, 1-1 C-USA) with a 17-0 run to christen the second stanza, making the 41-22 deficit at the half a distant memory. Nash scored nine during the sequence, including the first five, while at the other end of the floor UTEP forced the Tigers to miss 10 straight shots.

UTEP took its first lead of the game (50-49, 8:40 to play) following a pair of free throws by Kristine Vitola. The Tigers halted the sequence with consecutive buckets to regain the advantage (53-50, 6:34 left), but the momentum belonged to the home side.

The Miners ran off eight in a row, with the first six from Nash, to pull ahead for good. Sophomore Kayla Thornton drilled a jumper to put the finishing touches on the 36-12 surge, which made it 58-53 in favor of UTEP with 3:50 remaining in regulation.

Memphis managed to cut the deficit down to two (62-60) with 24 seconds left, but UTEP sealed the comeback by sinking all four free-throw attempts in the final moments.

The come-from-behind triumph is the biggest in terms of league games, eclipsing the prior standard (15) in a 67-64 defeat against UAB on Jan. 18, 2008. Overall it equals the effort by the Miners in 72-71 OT win against Illinois State on Dec. 19, 2004.

"Memphis has a very talented team," UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. "They dominated us in the first half. I'm very proud of how hard we played in the second half. It was a great come-from-behind win! Jenzel Nash was our "Sparkie" today."

Thornton tallied 17 points to share the team lead with Nash in scoring, while Gloria Brown and Chrishauna Parker pitched in eight and seven points, respectively. Vitota added six.

After a challenging first half of shooting the Miners hit on 41.4 percent over the final 20 minutes, which they out-scored the Tigers by a count of 44-19. UTEP finished the game at 33.3 percent (21-of-63), but compensated for that by drilling 81.5 percent (22-of-27) at the charity stripe and also winning the battle of the boards, 49-38.

Brown grabbed 11 rebounds to lead that charge, while Parker and Thornton each had eight.

Jasmine Lee (16 points), Nicole Dickson (15 points) & Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir (10 points) led the way for the Tigers.

Memphis hit 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from the floor in the first half on the way to building that 19-point advantage before the Orange and Blue clamped down in the second stanza. The Tigers hit just 21.2 percent (7-of-33), and concluded the contest at 38.1 percent (24-of-63).

UTEP will be back in action at home against Tulsa at 7:05 p.m. MST on Thursday, Jan. 12.
 

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