Women prepare for UTSA

Head+coach+Keitha+Adams+coached+her+team+to+a+16-0+homestead+this+season.+

Charles Desouza

Head coach Keitha Adams coached her team to a 16-0 homestead this season.

Charles Desouza, Staff Photographer

After defeating Charlotte 94-91 Feb. 26, and being named Conference USA regular season champions, the Miners will travel to San Antonio to face UTSA in their last game of the regular season.

The squad currently received 14 votes in the Associated Press poll and 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Miners stood their ground in a nail-biting (94-91) double-overtime win against a tough UNC-Charlotte. Head coach Keitha Adams and the Miners finished this season with an undefeated (16-0) record at home, which was a great way to celebrate on the last home game of the season.

“Today was an extremely hard-fought game against a very talented Charlotte team. It was two very good teams playing each other,” Adams said. “I’m really proud of our players for protecting our home court; that’s why I let them cut the nets because they protected the home court the whole year. They earned it and got the championship outright. I’m just really happy for our players.”

Over their last stretch of home games, the Miners had back-to-back intense games.  They went head-to-head against Old Dominion and won 70-64. By the Miners sticking to their guns and playing a defensive game, they held Old Dominion’s C-USA leading scorer Jennie Simms to 4-11 from the field and 15 points. Senior Starr Breedlove and Cameasha Turner combined for 34 points, 12 rebounds and eight steals against Old Dominon, but it was the contribution from the bench that was the determining factor in their success. The Miners’ bench combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Although Charlotte out-rebounded the Miners 50-36, it was again the Miners’ defense that forced 30 turnovers. The offense’s shooting made 42.2 percent (35-83) from the field.

Junior Jenzel Nash lead the way with a career-high 31 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals in the win.

This match was like a heavyweight title fight as the Miners went blow-for-blow down the stretch of the fourth quarter.  Charlotte seemed convinced that they were going to hand the Miners their first home loss of the season, as they were leading 72-70 with 15 seconds in the fourth quarter. With little time left on the clock, Nash came up with a steal and managed to draw a foul, which led to two big foul shots that sent the game into overtime.  With only eight points scored in the first overtime, neither team could pull away with the win, forcing the game into double overtime. The Miners woke up during the second overtime as Nash started off with a 3-pointer, followed by two more bombs from beyond the arc by Lulu McKinney.  The back-to-back scoring by the Miners became too much for Charlotte as their defense started to collapse. The Miners managed to walk away with the (94-91) win over Charlotte, making their record 25-2, 16-1 C-USA, and giving them an undefeated (15-0) home record.

The Miners will be going to San Antonio to play UTSA in their last game in the regular season.  Despite UTSA having a losing record (9-18, 5-12), they have to prepare for UTSA’s Akunna Elonu. She is fourth in rebounds in C-USA.

Adams and the Miners will have their hands full with developing and executing a game plan to keep her off the boards. UTSA’s leading scorer Tesha Smith will have the job of playing against the best defense in C-USA.  Although the Miners will not have the home court advantage, one factor they can lean on is having a seven-game winning streak, opposed to UTSA’s five-game losing streak.

“Honestly, we aren’t worried about the next game,” Breedlove said. “We play our game, play hard, listen to coach ­— not really worried about what’s next.”

Turner, Breedlove and Nash all combined for 17 steals in the last two games.

The Miners have one more regular season game ahead of them, but Adams and the Miners have their taste buds ready to feast on the opponents standing in the way of the C-USA tournament, which will be held in two weeks. With only one conference loss to Marshall University (79-64), the Miners have a very good chance of bringing home the C-USA Championship trophy. Winning the C-USA Championship is very important to Adams and the Miners because it would put them in a good position to enter the NCAA tournament in March.

Charles Desouza may be reached at [email protected]