EL PASO, TEXAS - Seniors Kristine Vitola (21 points, 14 rebounds) and Kayla Thornton (20 points, 13 boards) each recorded double doubles, and UTEP downed Washington, 70-63, in a WNIT Elite Eight contest in front of a staggering program-best 10,227 fans at the Don Haskins Center Monday.
The Miners (28-7) advance to the WNIT Final Four and will play host to South Dakota State (26-9) at 7 p.m. MT Wednesday. Semifinal tickets will go on sale at 8 a.m. Tuesday with the following prices: $15 floor, $10 general admission & $5 students. Call the UTEP ticket center for complete information at (915) 747-5234.
It marks the second victory in three days against a Pacific-12 school, and the Orange and Blue have now equaled the second-most triumphs (28) at the school in program history. UTEP could match the single-season school record against the Jackrabbits Wednesday evening.
"It was an amazing night!" UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. "I'm proud of our players and so proud of our fans. Wednesday Night, let's get 12,222 for the Final Four!"
It was far from easy, though, with the Huskies (20-14) leading by as many as eight in the first half and continuing to sport a three-point advantage (57-54) with 5:26 remaining in regulation. Spurred on by the fantastic crowd, which shattered the 8,234 in the March 28 triumph, UTEP once again put together a big run late.
The Miners blitzed the Pac-12 WNIT automatic qualifier with a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to lead 64-57 with 2:22. Super sub and C-USA sixth player of the year Jenzel Nash came alive with seven of her 12 points in the sequence.
Talia Walton, who paced the visitors with 22 points, halted the sequence with a long trey. Jasmine Davis made it a two-point tilt with 58 seconds left (65-63) but the Miners closed the contest out in style by taking care of business at the charity stripe.
It was a defensive-minded contest with both the Miners (22-of-63, 34.9 percent) and Huskies (24-of-63, 38.1 percent) shooting less than 40 percent from the floor.
UTEP smashed UW on the boards, 50-36, which helped contribute to a big advantage at the charity stripe The Miners drilled 22-of-28 free throws while the Huskies connected on 6-of-11 tries.
Thornton moved past 1,000 career rebounds for her career while Kelli Willingham dished out four assists in her program-best 115 career start.