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Miner women take crucial win over Florida Atlantic

Nina Titovets

One down. One more to go.

UTEP women’s basketball head coach Keith Adams told her team that this was going to be a big week and her team played like it on Thursday night.

The Miners defeated the visiting Florida Atlantic Owls by a final score of 69-59, edging one step closer to securing a spot in the Conference-USA tournament.

“It was a battle. It was ugly,” said Adams after the game with a smile. “But, it’s a great win for this team. We needed it.”

The majority of the “ugly” came from the FAU side of things. The Owls started the game shooting 50 percent in the first quarter and opened up a 10-point lead on the Miners by the 4:38 mark. UTEP struggled to find a rhythm offensively throughout the first half. Still, the Miners were able to open up a lead before the half due to the atrocious shooting of the now 0-15 in C-USA FAU Owls.

In the second period, UTEP tied the game when Jakeira Ford pulled down a rebound and sank a short jumper to knot the game at 24. That bucket began a string of nine unanswered field goals, that would bring the half time score to 31-26.

For 7:37 in the second period, the Owls were held without a field goal, with just two points coming from free throws late in the half. For the second quarter, the last place Owls were 1-for-18 shooting. Making matters worse, UTEP out-rebounded FAU 30-17 in the first half in order to close the 10-point deficit and take the lead.

Lost in all of the misses of the second quarter was almost the fact that UTEP’s 27th and 28th points from the smooth stroke of Sparkle Taylor’s jumpshot moved Taylor into third place all-time on the UTEP scoring list. Taylor now ranks behind only Kayla Thornton (1,679) and Jareica Hughes (1,555) in all-time points with 1,264.

Taylor lead the team with 22 points on Thursday night. Her most important basket came as the Owls attempted to make a run in the waning minutes of the game, bringing the score to within three.

Taylor had not scored for almost five minutes when she drove to the basket, spun between two defenders and put up a jumper–hitting nothing but the bottom of the net.

Teammate Tamara Seda said after the game that there was no doubt that the ball needed to be in Taylor’s hands at that point.

“Even though they were denying her, we know that Sparkle’s going to put it in the hole and we run picks for her and she just has it, man, that touch, it’s just always in,” said Seda, shaking her head.

The Owls did not make another run at UTEP as the Miners opened up their lead more with successful free throws down the stretch.

The Miners will take on Florida International in the second important game of the week, and possibly most important game of the season, on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center. A win for the Miners would all but guarantee a berth in the C-USA tournament.

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Miner women take crucial win over Florida Atlantic