EL PASO, Texas – WKU erased a 19-point fourth quarter deficit to stun UTEP 77-75 on Saturday afternoon in the Don Haskins Center.
After one of the biggest wins in program history on Thursday, a 65-62 handling of No. 21 Middle Tennessee, the Miners (14-7, 7-5 C-USA) continued the positive momentum over the first three quarters, taking a 69-50 advantage into the fourth over the second-place team in the conference.
Over the second and third quarters, UTEP outscored the Lady Toppers (13-9, 10-3 C-USA) by a 50-27 tally, dominating the middle portion of the game.
In the fourth, the visitors kept the offense in check for the Miners while getting hot in their own right, stringing together a 16-0 run over the first 5:20 to make it a one-possession contest.
The run was bookended by a banked in left-wing 3-pointer by Alexis Mead and a Jaylin Foster splash from the perimeter of her own.
“WKU is a team that can score in bunches, so I never felt safe even with a 19-point lead,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “So that’s also why if anybody is wondering I held on to timeouts. I’ve watched them play a lot, and this is what they do. I wasn’t going to give up timeouts because I thought we were going to need them late.”
WKU shot 5-of-11 from downtown in the fourth while holding UTEP without a made field goal.
With 24-seconds left, Elina Arike hit a pair of free throws. She earned the trip to the line on the drive to the cup to push the Miners to a 74-73 advantage.
A Mya Meredith triple on the next possession that was dialed up from straightaway swapped the lead back to WKU at 76-74.
UTEP had a chance to even it up when Erin Wilson was fouled with 8.5 seconds left. She would split the free throws, with the Lady Toppers gathering the defensive board and calling a timeout.
Following the break, WKU managed to run a significant amount of time off the clock before the Miners were able to commit a foul with under two-seconds left.
Foster split her free throw attempts, making the first and missing the second. UTEP would bring down the rebound but was not able to get a shot off at the horn.
“Any time that you give up 27 points in a quarter, whether you score six or not, you are probably not going to win,” Baker said. “And we gave up 23 in the first quarter and 27 in the fourth, and that’s not really who we are. It’s one of those things where we lost momentum. There was about a four-minute span where we couldn’t get a call. That hurt us, and kind of took us out of our rhythm. Then we started to turn it over because they were allowed to body up on us. I think we had nine turnovers in the fourth because they were allowed to do pretty much whatever they want, and then they started shooting it well. Hats off to them. If you are going to come in her to a place where we don’t lose very often and have a comeback like that where you shoot about 50 percent in the fourth quarter, I’d say you deserve to win.”
Jazion Jackson put together the first double-double of her career for the Miners, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds.
“I just thought we didn’t take care of the ball down the stretch,” Jackson said. “Defensively, we let them get open a few times. We also gave up some offensive rebounds. The little things caught up with us in the fourth quarter.”
Elina Arike had a team-high 16 points with 11 rebounds to string together a double-double of her own.
Additionally, Sabine Lipe had an impressive game off the bench, drilling four 3-pointers to score 12 points with five rebounds. Erin Wilson netted 14 for her fourth straight game in double digits, while Adhel Tac grabbed 11 boards.
The Miners posted a +30 margin on the boards, outrebounding WKU 52-22, the fifth-largest margin in program history.
UTEP played the game in front of 1,403 fans, the largest home crowd for the program of the season and the most since 1,532 were in the Don for a game against FIU on Feb. 25, 2017.
N’Yah Boyd returned to action after missing the last two games and contributed seven points and four assists off the bench.
UTEP hits the road for a game at Charlotte on Wednesday at 4 p.m. MT/6 p.m. ET.