Miners advance to the elite eight after topping TCU

Miners+advance+to+the+elite+eight+after+topping+TCU

Angel Ulloa

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

 

The Miners shot an astounding 50 percent from the floor (29-58) in their 79-71 victory over TCU Thursday night in the Don Haskins Center. With the win, head coach Keitha Adams and her squad will advance to the elite eight of the Women’s NIT and host Oregon (23-10) on Monday, March 28.

“We still got a bad taste in our mouth from the conference tournament,” Cameasha Turner said. “I think we are peaking at the right time and our preparation has helped us a lot.”

The stars for the Miners scored heavily in front of a roaring 7,024 fans. Starr Breedlove (21) Cameasha Turner (20) and Jenzel Nash (20) combined for 77 percent of the team’s scoring against the Horned Frogs.

“After our last game, we were very unhappy with how we played,” Adams said. “El Paso, the city, has rejuvenated this team. Coming out and having this fan support has put gas in the tank and they’re loving it.”

Coming into the game, TCU was ranked first in the Big 12 and sixth in the nation for 3-point percentage (39 percent); however, the Miners held the Horned Frogs to 29 percent from beyond the arc. The Miners also outrebounded TCU 38-36 on the night.

“Playing them, you really have to guard them; they can really make shots,” Adams said. “There were some moments on defense we were intense – big time defensive stances.”

In the first quarter, the Horned Frogs came out dropping baskets and took hold of the game early. They finished the first quarter shooting nine of 15 from the floor, hit a pair of threes and led 24-17 over the Miners.

“We struggled in the first quarter,” Adams said. “They were dominating and dictating the game.”

Despite the lackluster start, during the second quarter the Miners woke up. From the nine minute mark to the end of the second quarter, the Miners went on a 24-5 run. The scoring stretch included eight points a piece from Jenzel Nash and Starr Breedlove. They led at the break 41-34.

“We got into a groove on offense – transitioning got going, we were driving the ball and then our defense picked up,” Adams said. “We felt a lot better at halftime than the first quarter.”

After halftime, the Miners locked in defensively, while scoring significant buckets to extend their lead. They shut TCU down from 3-point range (0-5) and held them to 18 percent (2-11) from the floor.
“We knew they shot the ball well,” Turner said. “Coach preached that and we knew we had to stop that. We just had heart tonight. When you make shots, it’s hard for them to make shots.”

The dominant third quarter transitioned into a fourth quarter that merely played the clock. The closest TCU came to the Miners was nine points in the final quarter. Although they committed 11 unnecessary fouls, the Miners’ 21 points in the last 10 minutes was enough for the victory.

Finishing the night with 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals, Nash credits the defense for pulling through with the victory.

“As of lately we’ve been shooting better, so when we get down, we play defense and get stops,” Nash said.

While Nash claimed it was the defense, Turner attributed the energy from the home crowd which fueled the team to a win. In front of the home audience, the Miners are undefeated (19-0).

“It’s a blessing to play in the Don,” Turner said. “Everything happens for a reason. There’s no coincidence that we have more fans here and like coach said, let’s sell out the Don [against Oregon].”

Oregon defeated Utah (73-63) in the ‘sweet 16’ round of the WNIT. Tip off against the Ducks is slated for 7:05 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center on Monday, March 28.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]