Louisiana Tech's improbable run in the Conference USA Tournament came to an end Thursday night but not before the Lady Techsters gave the host UTEP Miners a scare.
Tech (12-20), which made history Wednesday night when it became the lowest seed (14) to ever advance to the quarterfinals of any conference tournament in Division I women's basketball history, turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 48-43 lead with 11:10 to play.
However, the Miners (24-6) turned up the pressure on the defensive end as their full-court pressure forced Tech into some costly turnovers as UTEP went on a 17-2 run to push its advantage out to 60-50 with just under eight minutes to play.
The lead grew to as many as 14 at 72-58 before the Lady Techsters made one final run. Tech eventually cut the deficit to 78-72 with less than a minute to play but the Miners hit some free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Louisiana Tech came out of the starting blocks fast, building an early 7-1 lead against the Miners. However, UTEP fought back and took its first lead of the game at 12-11 before a Whitney Frazier jumper at the 11:45 mark put Tech back on top at 13-12.
It was the last field goal Tech would make until less than two minutes to play in the half when Quanny Jackson's three-pointer with 1:20 to play cut the UTEP lead to 21-20. The Miners took a 28-23 lead into the halftime lockerroom.
After hitting only 27 percent of their field goals in the opening 20 minutes, Tech caught fire early in the second half as the Lady Techsters hit 9 of their first 15 field goals in building the five-point lead. However, UTEP guard Jenzel Nash and forward Kayla Thornton were monsters in the final 20 minutes combining to score 34 points as the Miners outscored Tech 53-49.
UTEP hit 69 percent (18-26) of its field goals in the second half.
Kelia Shelton led Tech with 25 points, while Frazier added 17 points, 13 rebounds and five steals. Jackson chipped in with 15 points.
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