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Kayla Thornton (20 points, 11 boards) and Anete Steinberga (14 points & 11 rebounds) each registered double-doubles but visiting UAB did just enough to upend UTEP, 61-57, at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon.
In a game where the Miners (14-2, 2-1 C-USA) and Blazers (12-4, 3-0 C-USA) traded big runs, UAB was able to put together a final push to eke out the victory. UTEP led 53-48 with 4:34 to play only to have the Blazers score the next seven points and provide the game’s fourth and final lead change.
UTEP forged ties at 55-55 and 57-57 after the 7-0 push, but the Blazers moved ahead for good on a lay-up by Kayla Anderson with 1:23 to play. UTEP Freshman Irene Gari and Thornton each had open looks on three-point shots down the stretch, but they wouldn’t fall. UAB iced the contest with two free throws by Ashley Grimes, who along with Karsima Chapman, scored 15 points to pace the visitors.
The setback is just the second on the season for the Miners, who also were saddled with their initial home loss (10-1).
Chrishauna Parker buoyed Steinberga and Thornton with nine points and 12 boards while Kelli Wilingham chipped in eight, but no other Miner finished with more than four points.
UTEP had some good moments on offense, but it was unable to ever get into a sustained rhythm. It finished at 28.4 percent (19-of-67) from the floor, but nearly compensated for that through an outstanding effort on the boards.
The Miners outrebounded the Blazers, 57-33, and enjoyed a 23-3 advantage in second-chance points. Destinee LaFountain (seven), Saidah Zuberi Allen (five)and Willingham (five) aided the effort on the glass.
UTEP also took good care of the basketball against the UAB press, committing just 13 turnovers.
UTEP was up 4-3 early before the two sides started to alternate big scoring surges.
The Miners led early (4-3) before the two teams started to trade big scoring runs. UAB got it going with a 10-0 push to snag the 13-4 edge with 14:18 left in the opening period. UTEP stormed back to tie the tilt with a 9-0 run, capped by Parker’s offensive putback.
UAB then peeled off seven straight, which was answered by a 7-0 surge by the home side. The Blazers accounted for the game’s next 10 points, but UTEP got back-to-back buckets to get within six (30-24) at the half.
The Miners kept things rolling to start the second stanza, scoring the first nine points to roar into the lead (33-30, 18:27). Willingham started it with a triple, followed by consecutive treys courtesy of Thornton.
UAB’s Michaelea Kleist converted a lay-up to halt the sequence but UTEP continued to play at a high level. It put together a 16-5 run over the next six minutes to secure its largest lead of the game (49-37) with 11:11 to play.
To its credit UAB was able to regroup and post the come-from-behind triumph.
UTEP will look to regain its winning ways when it kicks off a two-game roadswing at Rice at 6 p.m. MST Thursday. The Miners will also square off at Houston at 12 p.m. MST on Jan. 27 before returning home.
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