Rutgers 56, UTEP 54
April 5, 2014 -- Tyler Scaife drove the length of the floor and finished with a layup with two seconds on the clock as Rutgers defeated UTEP 56-54 to win the 2014 WNIT Championship in front of a sold-out crowd at the Don Haskins Center (12,222) in El Paso, Texas.
It was all Rutgers in the first half, using stifling defense to hold UTEP to just 18.2 percent shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers. RU went into halftime with a comfortable 30-16 lead.
The lid finally came off the basket in the second half for UTEP as they used a 12-2 run to pull within three (39-36) at the 11:39 mark. The Miners fought all the way back and took their first lead of the game since the 15:33 mark of the first half going up 50-48 with just over five minutes to play.
Trailing 54-52 with five seconds left, Chrishauna Parker grabbed an offensive rebound and converted on the put-back shot to tie the game at 54s. That’s when Scaife took the inbounds pass and drove coast-to-coast for the winning bucket.
Kahleah Copper scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the win for the Scarlet Knights. Copper was named the WNIT Tournament MVP. Scaife netted 18 points including 10 of the team’s 12 points in the final eight minutes of the game. She was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Kristine Vitola, an All-Tournament Team selection, scored 16 points including making 10-of-11 from the charity line to lead the Miners. Jenzel Nash finished with 11 points and Kayla Thornton added eight points along with nine rebounds.
Rutgers finishes the season with a 28-9 record and were playing in the WNIT for the first time in program history. UTEP was also making their first appearance in the WNIT and end a great season with a 29-8 record.
The sell-out crowd of 12,222 was the seventh largest championship game in WNIT history. The championship game sold out in less than two hours following UTEP’s victory over South Dakota State in the Semifinals. It was the fastest sell-out in WNIT Tournament history, faster than New Mexico in 2001 and Wyoming in 2007. The Lobos sold out The Pitt (18,018) in five hours. Wyoming sold out Arena-Auditorium (15,462) in eight hours.
Kahleah Copper – Rutgers (MVP)
Tyler Scaife - Rutgers
Kayla Thornton – UTEP
Kristine Vitola – UTEP
Courtney Williams – South Florida
Steph Paluch – South Dakota State
April 3, 2014 -- The 2014 Postseason WNIT championship game is set as UTEP (29-7) hosts Rutgers (27-9) on Saturday, April 5 at 3 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. MT at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. The game will be nationally televised live in HD on CBS Sports Network.
The broadcast team includes Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and legendary coach Ceal Barry (analyst). Anderson has worked as a play-by-play announcer for 19 years in basketball, baseball, softball, and football. Barry served as Head Coach at the University of Colorado for 22 years where she compiled a 427-242 record, 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, including six times in the Sweet 16 and three times in the Elite Eight, 13 20-win seasons, four conference championships, and assorted coach of the year honors.
CBS Sports Network is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 221 and Dish Network Channel 158. To find the channel in your area visit: www.cbssportsnetwork.com.
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-The championship game sold out in less than two hours following UTEP’s victory over South Dakota State in the Semifinals. It was the fastest sell-out in WNIT Tournament history, faster than New Mexico in 2001 and Wyoming in 2007. The Lobos sold out The Pitt (18,018) in five hours. Wyoming sold out Arena-Auditorium (15,462) in eight hours.
-The championship contest will mark the fourth straight tilt that UTEP has equaled or set the school’s attendance record. The Miners attracted 8,234 fans in a Round-Three win vs. Colorado (68-60, 3/28/14) before drawing 10,227 in the Quarterfinal triumph against Washington (70-63, 3/31/14). The prior school attendance standard was 7,255 against SMU on Feb. 28, 2008.
- The home match-up for UTEP was possible due to the decision by the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope to move its previously-scheduled event to another location on campus.
-The sell-out crowd of 12,222 will be the seventh largest championship game in WNIT history. UTEP has sold out back-to-back games, which is only the second time this has occurred in tournament history (Toledo in 2011).
-Rutgers enters the game coming off a 62-52 win over South Florida in the Semifinals played in Tampa. The Scarlet Knights improved to 27-9 on the season, which is the most wins since 2007-08 when RU finished the year at 27-7 and played in the NCAA Elite Eight. Rutgers is playing in the Postseason WNIT for the first time in program history holding a 5-0 record and 109-63 all-time in postseason contests.
-Rutgers improved to 10-4 in road games in 2013-14 with its win over South Florida. RU is also 21-2 this season when going into halftime with the lead.
-UTEP is 21-2 all-time, including 19-1 under Keitha Adams, in home games with 4,000+ fans.
-UTEP becomes the second C-USA team to advance to the WNIT championship game (Houston in 2002). The Miners are also playing in the tournament for the first time in program history and carry a 5-0 record. UTEP has led in attendance in all five rounds and has set a program-best five straight games with +4,500 fans.
-Five teams from mid-major conferences have won the WNIT since its inception in 1998: Drexel (2013), Toledo (2011), Wyoming (2007), Missouri State (2005), and Creighton (2004).
-Of the 64 teams selected in this year’s WNIT, 35 teams had recorded 20 or more wins on the season. This was one team shy of tying the all-time WNIT record.
-This year’s field tied the WNIT record for most schools that were crowned regular-season champions in their respected conferences (10 teams): High Point (Big South), Iona (Metro Atlantic), Navy (Patriot), Lamar (Southland), Indiana State (MVC), Colorado State (MWC), Arkansas State (Sun Belt), Green Bay (Horizon), South Dakota State (Summit), and Bowling Green (MAC). SDSU and BGSU made it to the Quarterfinal round of eight teams.
-C-USA led all conferences with six teams selected in this year’s WNIT field. The AAC had three schools selected including two that made it to the Semifinal round (South Florida and Rutgers). The AAC had one or more teams represented in each of the four major postseason tournament Final Fours: UCONN (men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament), SMU (men’s NIT), South Florida and Rutgers (Women’s NIT).
-Marquette’s Katherine Plouffe broke the WNIT record for most rebounds in a game against Indiana State in Round One with 26. The previous record was held by Sophia Young of Baylor with 25 in 2003. Plouffe also broke the record for most defensive rebounds in a game with 20. This mark surpassed Colorado’s Chucky Jeffery who recorded 16 in 2012.
-Jamierra Faulkner of Southern Miss tied the record for most assists in a game with 13 against Lamar in Round One. She joins three other players: Ariana Elegado - Cal Poly (2012), Kelsey Corbin - Ball State (2007), and Dee Dee Pate - Wisconsin (1999).
UTEP 66, South Dakota State 63
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