Strong finish lifts UTEP past ECU in overtime 93-79

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Strong finish lifts UTEP past ECU in overtime 93-79

Jeremy Carranco, Sports Editor

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The UTEP women’s basketball team showed resilience late, ending the Beach Ball Classic on a 18-1 run in overtime to snap East Carolina’s five-game winning streak on Sunday afternoon in Myrtle Beach, SC.

With the victory, the Miners improved to 6-4 all-time against former Conference USA foe East Carolina and have now won the last five matchups.

ECU’s Ariyana Williams hit a three 21 seconds into the overtime period, giving the Pirates their largest lead of three (78-75) but that would be their last bucket as the Miners then scored 18 of the game’s final 19 points.

UTEP (6-3) led 42-30 at halftime after junior Najala Howell knocked down a half-court heave at the buzzer. However, ECU used an inside attack in the third period after senior Tamara Seda was sidelined due to foul trouble to close the deficit and eventually tie the game at the end of regulation (75-75).

The Pirates were the first team this season to beat UTEP in the paint (32-30).

A season-high six Miners scored in double figures in the win led by Howell’s second career double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). Seda fouled out for the first time this season but not before putting together a team leading 16 points alongside Faith Cook (16). Zuzanna Puc set a season-high with 14 points while Jordan Alexander (15) and Katarina Zec (11) close out the list of Miners in double-figures.

“We knew we could attack East Carolina and really get to the rim off the dribble,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “I’ve always loved how this team shoots free throws. They seem to have a knack at the line to finish things off. We know how to win when you look at what we did at the charity stripe down the stretch.”

UTEP set a school record for free throws made, knocking down 42 on 50 attempts for 84 percent. Howell made all 10 of her freebie attempts and used three steals on defense in an all-around effort.

The turnover woes continue for the Miners as they accumulated a total of 23 in the contest which led to 29 ECU points. However, hot shooting compensated for the poor ball handling. UTEP shot 50 percent (23-46) from the floor and won the boards (40-33).

The Miners will have three days off before facing the Samford Bulldogs (4-6) at the Tulane Classic in New Orleans, LA on Thursday. UTEP will face either Tulane or Troy the following day (Dec. 22) as both games will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso.