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Who run the court? Girls.

Angel Ulloa
The Miners defeated the Howls (74-68) to advance to the third game of the Women’s NIT.

After being up by as much as 14 points over Arkansas State in the fourth quarter, the Miners found themselves in a last-minute battle Monday night, March 21. With 45 seconds left on the clock, the game was tied at 68. The season was on the line and they answered as the Miners hit six unanswered points in the last 30 seconds, defeating the Howls 74-68 in the second round of the Women’s NIT.

The first bucket was a go-ahead jumper from Agata Dobrowolska. Then, after a Jenzel Nash steal, the Miners finished the game from the charity stripe and captured the win.

“The girls in the huddles got amped up,” head coach Keitha Adams said. “Cameasha was in their ear about playing defense and what we needed to do. I think we just elevated our intensity down the stretch when we needed it.”

Even though the Miners got off to a slow start in the first quarter, it didn’t take them long to get into the swing of things. With NIT fever in the air, the Don Haskins Center was filled with energy as the Miners started to rally  after taking the lead at the end of the first quarter 19-14. The Miners dominated the second quarter, leading by as much as 14 points. Cameasha Turner carried the Miners as the leading scorer with 11 points in the first half.

“In the first half, we had some possessions where we weren’t matched up and they got shots that were uncontested,” Adams said. “That’s uncharacteristic of our team, we’ve been pretty good at guarding the ball at all times and being all over it, but we weathered it and just got a tremendous win.”

Starting out the second half with an eight-point lead, the Miners took their foot off the gas as ASU was determined to make a comeback. The Howls took the lead at 2:52 with a score of 67-66. Although ASU’s determination was evident, the Miners outlasted the Howls in the end.

Leading the Miners in points was Sparkle Taylor, scoring 18 points off the bench, followed by Jenzel Nash and Cameasha Turner with 16 points each. Turner shot a pair of 3s, went 6-for-12 from the floor and finished with eight rebounds.

“She (Taylor) got the hot hand, and when she gets the hot hand, it can get contagious,” Adams said. “I just kept trying to dial things up for her, getting her the ball because I knew she had the hot hand. She really stepped up big for us.”

Ignited by Taylor’s 18 points, the Miners totaled 28 points off the bench.  Lulu Mckinney and Tamara Seda also combined for 10 points off the bench to give the Miners a boost.

Although they are notorious for their defensive pursuit, the Miners did not show their true defensive colors.  They were negative two in the turnover margin and had trouble stopping the Howls’ leading scorer Audrea Gamble. She recorded 21 points, followed by Khadi Brown-Haywood with 19 points and Amanda Lawson with 11 points.

Some key takeaways on the defensive end was the Miners and their 21 points off of turnovers, 19 defensive rebounds and nine steals.

“They are very good offensively,” Adams said. “Not our best defensive game we’ve had this year, no question.”

Next the Miners will host TCU at the Don Haskins Center on Thursday, March 24 in the third round of the WNIT.

Charles Desouza may be reached at [email protected].

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Who run the court? Girls.