UTEP drops series opener at Charlotte, 62-53

UTEP

CHARLOTTE, NC – UTEP women’s basketball (15-7, 12-5 C-USA) fell behind early in the first half was never able overcome a large deficit as the Miners fell to Charlotte (9-7, 8-3 C-USA), 62-53, on Friday at Halton Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 49ers led from start to finish and capitalized on a 9-0 start to the game to eventually snap a five-game road winning streak by the Miners.

UTEP cut the lead to six with under three minutes to play in the first, but that would be the closest the Miners got the rest of the game. Charlotte took an 18-point lead into halftime and held in the second half despite the Miners fighting back late in the fourth to make it an eight-point game.

The Miners shot 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the field in the loss, while UTEP was 0-of-14 from three-point range. The Miners shot 76 percent from the free-throw line (19-of-25), including going 9-of-12 on free throws in the fourth to stay in the game.

Isis Lopes and Michelle Pruitt reached double figures in the loss, led by Lopes who had 12 points (5-8 FG), three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Pruitt led the Miners on the boards with six rebounds to go along with 10 points. Elina Arike added eight points (4-7 FG) and DejaNae Roebuck had six points on the day. 

Facing an 18-point deficit at the half, the Miners continued to close the gap in the third by outscoring Charlotte, 18-13, to make it a 13-point game heading to the fourth. UTEP put together its best shooting performance of the day in the third, going 6-of-13 from the floor, but Charlotte countered by going 5-of-11 and hung on to a double-digit lead.

In the fourth, UTEP’s free-throw shooting remained strong until the Miners hit their first field goal of the quarter on a Pruitt layup with under five minutes to play. Pruitt would later make it an 8-point game with 50 seconds remaining, but the 49ers hit another free throw with 15 seconds left and was able to close out the victory at home.

Charlotte won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding the Miners, 38-30, in the game, while 38 points came in the paint. The 49ers were 24-of-50 (48 pct.) from the field and 12-of-19 (63.2 pct.) from the free throw line.  

Two players reached double figures for Charlotte with Octavia Jett-Wilson leading all scorers with 21 points and seven rebounds. Jada McMillian added 15 points, while Dara Pearson led the 49ers with eight rebounds.

UTEP will close out the series at Charlotte on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Halton Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. The series finale is set for 1 p.m. MT on Saturday. The game between UTEP and Charlotte will be streamed for free on YouTube, while fans can also tune in to the radio broadcast with Tim Hagerty calling all the action on the UTEP Miners app. The contest can also be heard on ESPN 600 El Paso.

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