The UTEP Miners move on to the WNIT championship game after knocking off South Dakota State 66-63 in front of a capacity crowd of 12,222 at the Don Haskins Center. UTEP will host Rutgers in the championship on Saturday, April 5 at 3 p.m. ET. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network live in HD.
UTEP trailed at halftime 30-26, but used a quick 5-0 run to open the second half. The game went back and forth through most of the second half with UTEP taking a 63-57 lead with 30 seconds on the clock. Two huge three-pointers by SDSU kept the game within reach, but clutch free throws by UTEP down the stretch sealed the win. Mariah Clarin missed a last-second three attempt as the clock expired. The sell-out crowd erupted at the Haskins Center.
UTEP’s Kayla Thornton led all scorers with 22 points and 11 boards and teammate Kristine Vitola netted 18 points and blocked four shots. The Miners improve to 29-7 on the season and are playing in the WNIT for the first time in program history.
Megan Waytashek finished with a team-high 14 points for the Jackrabbits, who finish the season 26-10. Hannah Strop tallied eight points and four rebounds and Gabrielle Boever finished with eight points and three steals.
The sell-out crowd was the second largest ever for a WNIT Semifinal game and eighth overall. Wyoming defeated Kansas State in 2007 in front of 12,225 fans.
UTEP becomes only the second C-USA team to advance to the WNIT championship game (Houston in 2002). The Miners are now 5-0 in WNIT games and have led in attendance in all five rounds.
Rutgers 62, South Florida 52
The Rutgers women’s basketball team advances to the Postseason WNIT championship game for the first time in program history after a 62-52 defeat over South Florida. The Scarlet Knights will face the winner of South Dakota State at UTEP on April 5, at 3 p.m. ET.
Rutgers shot nearly 50 percent from the field hitting 28-of-57 shots, while holding South Florida to 31.2 percent on 20-of-64 from the floor. The Scarlet Knights led most of the first half and went into the locker room with a 30-28 advantage. USF trailed by two points (53-51) with just under three minutes to play before RU went on a 9-1 run to finish the game.
Four Rutgers players scored in double figures including a game-high 22 points from guard Tyler Scaife. First Team All-American Athletic Conference honoree Kahleah Copper finished with 12 points and Briyona Canty pulled down 12 rebounds on top of her 12 points.
Courtney Williams scored 19 points to lead South Florida who ends its season 23-13 overall. Akila McDonald and Inga Orekhova both finished with 10 points. Alisia Jenkins recorded a game-high 14 rebounds and five points.
Rutgers moves to 27-9 on the season and is playing in the Postseason WNIT for the first time in program history. RU and USF split American Athletic Conference play with each team winning on the road. The Scarlet Knights are now 9-3 all-time verse the Bulls and move to 6-0 when playing USF in Tampa.
Wednesday, April 2
Rutgers 62, South Florida 52
UTEP 66, South Dakota State 63
Saturday, April 5
Rutgers at UTEP, 3 p.m. ET