UTEP Escapes with 45-41 win at Rice

Jessica Kuster.

Feb. 5, 2012

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Houston - UTEP broke a 37-37 tie with a late 6-0 run to pull away from Rice and escape with a tough 45-41 Conference USA women's basketball road victory Sunday inside Tudor Fieldhouse.

The Owls (11-12, 5-5) were down six (37-31), but a basket by Amenemope McKinney, a three-pointer from Brianna Hypolite, and a free throw from Nakachi Maduka tied the contest at 37 (4:49). UTEP's Gloria Brown then scored the next three baskets down low to push the Miners ahead 43-37. Brown would finish with a game-high 16 points off the bench.

Jessica Kuster made a difficult shot to bring the Owls to within four (43-39), but UTEP's Kim Smith sank two free throws (:42) to once again make it a six-point game. Kuster scored the Owls' final basket with 31 seconds left, but they could not get any closer.

Owl head coach Greg Williams was impressed by the play of UTEP's Gloria Brown.

"Too much Gloria Brown," stated Williams. "She is the most dominant player in the league on both ends of the floor and she showed it in the second-half."

UTEP (20-2, 9-0) came into the game averaging 68 points per outing, but the Rice defense was stout.

Said Williams, "I am very proud of our team. I thought defensively we played extremely well. UTEP comes in averaging 68 points a game and we hold them to 45. We just struggle to score and today was no different. We missed some easy shots and that comes back to haunt you in a close game."

The Rice defense held UTEP to 27 percent (17-63) shooting from the field. Brown was 6-12, and if not for her production, the Miners would have been 11-51 from the floor (21 percent).

The Owls shot 26 percent (14-54), with its star player, Kuster, making 5 of 12 to finish with a team-high 11 points and eight rebounds. Hypolite was the only other Owl in double-digits with 10 points.

Maya Adetula scored the final five points, all at the free throw line, to give Rice a slim 21-20 half-time lead.

Rice will not be in action until next Sunday (Feb. 12) when its hosts Tulsa at 2 p.m.





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