UTEP Rally Falls Short At Memphis
Kayla Thorton poured in a career-high 32 points, including 22 in the second half, but UTEP's comeback bid fell short in a 76-71 setback against Memphis in the FedEx Forum Sunday.
The Tigers (16-11, 7-6 C-USA) used a barrage of three-point shots to build a seemingly insurmountable 25-point lead of 55-30 with 13:17 to play.
The Miners (19-7, 7-6 C-USA) refused to fold up shop, though, determined to make a game of it.
Using a scrambling, trapping defense and an attacking mentality on offense, UTEP ripped off a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to give legs to its rally efforts.
Nicole Dickson, who paced a trio of Tigers in double figures with 27 points, halted the surge with two free throws.
The Miners went back to work, getting within single digits (61-52, 7:55) after Thornton drilled one of her six triples in the game.
The deficit remained at nine (69-60) with 5:26 to play before the U of M tallied seven in a row to secure a 16-point lead.
With only 2:50 left, UTEP continued to compete. It accounted for 11 of the game's final 12 points before time simply ran out on the rally.
Anete Steinberga buoyed Thornton with 16 points while Kelli Willingham and Cameasha Turner each pitched in seven. The seven points establish a career high for Turner, who made her second straight start.
Chrishauna Parker was held to four points but she did secure a team-high 10 rebounds while also pacing UTEP with six assists.
The Miners finished at 33.3 percent (23-of-69) from the floor but compensated for that in other ways.
They drilled 17-of-19 from the free-throw line and also won the battle of the boards (39-36).
It forced 19 turnovers, which led to 23 points, in addition to holding a 16-5 cushion in second-chance points.
Memphis' high-octane offense was fueled by Dickson, with Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir (19 points) and Ariel Hearn (10 points) also getting involved.
It connected on 48.1 percent (25-of-52), including 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from beyond-the-arc.
The Tigers were held to just nine field goals in the second half, with only four in the final 14 minutes.
They were able to hold on thanks to 17 free throws, 15 of which were rewarded in the second half.
UTEP will return to action when it plays host to Rice in a nationally-televised contest (CBS Sports Network) at 7 p.m. MST Thursday. There is free admission to the game as part of National Girls And Women In Sports Day.