UH women routed at UTEP

February 14, 2008 9:31:24 PM PST
Izabela Piekarska scored 17 points for Texas-El Paso in the No. 24 Miners' 80-55 win over Houston on Thursday night. The Miners (20-2, 11-0 Conference USA) extended their winning streak to 16 and took a three-game lead in the conference.

The Miners had three players in double-digits. Including Piekarska, a 6-foot-5 senior center, senior guard Natasha Lacy put up 12 points and seven steals, while 5-foot-4 sophomore guard Jareica Hughes added 13 points and nine assists.

The Miners were dominant in their debut as the first nationally ranked team in the program's 34-year history, shooting 45 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range.

After Houston (14-11, 8-3) took an early 3-point lead, UTEP took control two minutes into the game and never looked back.

Heading into halftime, the Miners led by 21 and extended the gap to 30 with 13:17 left in the game.

Houston's freshman guard Courtney Taylor led the Cougars with 10 points.

The Cougars, who had been in second place in the conference going into the game, looked hurried on the offensive side of the ball and shot just 26 percent from the field with 20 turnovers. The Cougars knocked down 16 field goals, while making 19 free throws and committing 21 fouls.

Houston cut into UTEP's lead late the second half, bringing the game within 21 points with 2:34 left and most of UTEP's starters on the bench.

UTEP coach Keitha Adams said the Miners did all they could to maintain their ranking, scoring 41 first-half points and putting together what she called a "complete game."

"Normally we've been a second half team, but we put together two really good halves tonight," Adams said. "I was concerned about having a little bit of a letdown (after being ranked) but that didn't happen."

Perhaps most impressive was a three-point from Hughes with 14:11 left in the game. Taking a pass from Piekarska, Hughes drove down the court, stopped just before the arc and put up a shot that sailed over four Houston defenders.

"It's gutsy," Adams said of the play. "Some coaches might get mad at that, but she made the shot."

The Miners will try to extend their winning streak against Rice on Saturday.

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