Miners ‘pick’ up victory against Charlotte 49ers

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Joel Molina

Guard Jazion Jackson plays offense against Tamia Davis from Charlotte.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners women’s basketball team (12-4, C-USA 5-2) faced the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers (7-9, C-USA 3-4) Monday, Jan. 16 at the Don Haskins Center.  

The Miners entered this game second in Conference USA (C-USA) standing behind Middle Tennesse, who is undefeated in conference play with six wins. UTEP is coming off a home loss to the Rice Owls where the Miners fell 73-62. 

This would break UTEP’s home winning streak of six games. Before that loss, UTEP had won four of its last five games placing the team only two games behind Middle Tennesse in C-USA.  

The opposing 49ers have not had the most successful conference play going 3-3 prior to Monday’s game. Charlotte is coming off a 64-50 loss to UTSA, a game where not a single player managed to earn double-digit points. 

Charlotte is currently in the middle of the C-USA standings and tied with Florida International and Florida Atlantic.  

This game’s starting lineup consisted of junior guard N’Yah Boyd, junior guard Jazion Jackson, junior guard Avery Crouse, sophomore forward Adhel Tac and sophomore forward Elina Arike.  

The Miners started out strong going up 10-4 midway through the first period thanks to a jumper by junior forward Thaniya Marks. The 49ers managed to comeback by scoring 12 unanswered points, changing the lead late into the first quarter of the game. 

After two scores from junior guard Erin Wilson, the Miners closed the scoring gap but could not reclaim its lead at the end of the first quarter with a score of 19-15.  

Both teams started out competitively, keeping the score within five points. The Miners’ offense continued to push the 49ers after Boyd completed a hook shot that placed the Miners within one point of Charlotte, 26-25, with just over five minutes left to play. 

UTEP managed to regain the lead thanks to a trip to the free throw line by Crouse which tied the game along with a three-point shot by senior guard Sabine Lipe to put the Miners up 31-28 with three minutes left in the half. 

Layups by Arike and Tac extended the team’s lead 35-31. Charlotte managed to tie the game thanks to a three-pointer and jumper in the last minute of the half and reclaimed the lead thanks to a layup by Charlotte sophomore guard Aylesha Wade to close out the half. The score at halftime was 38-36.  

Forward Elina Arike reaches for the ball as a University of North Carolina at Charlotte player also goes for it at the Don Haskins Center Jan. 16. (Joel Molina)

The Miners started sluggish going into the second half but bounced back to take the lead thanks to a Crouse three-pointer midway through the third quarter. The defense forced six turnovers during that stretch which led to the critical three-pointer. 

Charlotte did not hold back as the team took the lead back once again with 2:23 left in the third quarter. Two free throws from Jackson tied the game at 50 a piece. After a Charlotte trip to the free-point line, the 49ers managed to walk away with a 51-50-point lead to close out the third quarter.  

The first two minutes of the fourth quarter were quiet for both sides as Charlotte only scored on a layup to give the 49ers a two-point advantage. The Miners responded by scoring two layups including one by Tac to place the Miners ahead 54-53 once again. UTEP continued to score as they pushed its lead to five points with a little over five minutes left in the game. Both teams continued to fight as the clock ticked down with neither team backing down even as UTEP took a 62-56 lead with three minutes left to play. Thanks to a series of fouls against Charlotte, the Miners kept the 49ers at arm’s length for the completion of the game allowing UTEP to win. The final score was 68-60, UTEP.  

Leading scorers for the Miners were Boyd and Tac with 17 points each and Arike also reaching double figures after scoring 11 points.  

The team completed 25 of 60 field goals which included 34 points from the paint. The bench had quite a game as it only scored 11 points compared to Charlotte’s 18.  

This is the Miners’ seventh home win which helps place the team a game ahead of Western Kentucky University in the C-USA standings.  

The Miners now head to Florida to play Florida International University (8-7, C-USA 3-3) at 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami.  

The Miners will be back in El Paso at 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28 in the Don Haskins Center for the team’s “915 Night” against the University of North Texas (5-11, C-USA 2-4).  

Stats provided by UTEP Athletics and Charlotte Athletics. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram.