The Prospector

UTEP women come back from 15-point deficit to beat Charlotte

Junior+guard+Najala+Howell+looks+to+make+a+pass+around+Charlotte%27s+defense.++
Junior guard Najala Howell looks to make a pass around Charlotte's defense.

Junior guard Najala Howell looks to make a pass around Charlotte's defense.

Gaby Velasquez

Gaby Velasquez

Junior guard Najala Howell looks to make a pass around Charlotte's defense.

Jeremy Carranco, Sports Editor

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From what was an ugly start, the UTEP women’s basketball team was able to comeback and claim the win using a 23-6 third quarter to push past Charlotte, 67-58, in UTEP’s Conference USA home opener and first home game since Dec. 2.

The Miners (11-5, 2-1 C-USA) trailed the 49ers (6-10, 2-1 C-USA) 25-10 midway through the second quarter before using a 36-10 run that carried to the end of the third quarter. The run gave the Miners the lead for good, completely shifting the game into UTEP’s favor.

“We had a lousy first quarter but won every quarter after that,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “One of the hardest things to do in basketball, in any sport, is when you get off to a slow start is ‘can you overcome it?’ and this team always seems to be so tough and they overcome adversity all the time. I’m really proud of them.”

UTEP won the shooting percentage battle, notching 43 percent (23-53) to Charlotte’s 39 percent (22-56).

In the fourth quarter, the 49ers shot over 50 percent (55 percent, 10-18) but the Miners shot even better, nailing 58 percent (7-12) from the floor to hold off the Charlotte rally.

Junior guard Najala Howell looks to make a pass around Charlotte's defense.

Tamara Seda earned her eighth double-double on the season with a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Seda also finished a perfect six-for-six at the charity stripe in the win.

“When you’re home after a long road trip you have to turn it around,” Seda said regarding the second half comeback. “We had to pressure the ball more this game which helped us score buckets in transition.”

Najala Howell also captured 16 points to tie with Seda while earning six boards.

Zuzanna Puc (12 points) joined Seda and Howell in double figures for scoring while Faith Cook added nine points and six assists and Katarina Zec pitched in seven points and four dimes.

The 49ers were able to make a comeback themselves after the 36-10 run by UTEP, starting on an 8-0 spurt to start the fourth quarter before Howell rattled off five straight points to help the Miners stay in control.

A big plus for the home side in the momentum shifting third quarter was four steals, including one from Howell where she was able to lay one up and in off a reverse.

In total, UTEP notched a season-high 11 steals in the contest, seven which came in the second half that led to the Miners’ highest-scoring second half (44) of the season.

“All week coach (Baker) was stressing on how much our defensive intensity was going to help us,” Howell said. “Our defense gave us the offensive momentum in that third quarter.”

The Miners won on the boards as well, 39-30 but Baker still credited the size advantage Charlotte had inside.

“Their size bothered us in that first quarter,” Baker said. “The fact that we were able to push and able to score after the slow start against their size was the story of the game.”

The 49ers were led by Laia Raventós with 20 points, including a three-for-five day behind the arc.

UTEP will be back at the Don Haskins Center to host C-USA preseason favorite Middle Tennesee (9-7, 1-2 C-USA) this Saturday, Jan. 13 at noon.

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UTEP women come back from 15-point deficit to beat Charlotte