While the Rainbow Wahine played tough defense, they could not overcome a stagnant offensive effort that resulted in the team's lowest point total in nearly 30 years. The 39 points was the worst output since a 35-point outing versus Alaska-Anchorage in 1975.
The Miners (9-6, 4-2 WAC) won their fourth straight game and defeated the Rainbow Wahine for the first time in 13 meetings. UH (4-11, 2-4) meanwhile lost for the seventh time in the last nine games.
Despite trailing by 11 points with six minutes left in the game, UH still had a fighting chance. Two free throws by Jade Abele cut the UTEP lead to 42-39, with a little over a minute remaining. It seemed Hawaii would get one last shot as Brittany Grice rebounded Vaida Zagurskyte's missed shot with 16 seconds left. However, as Milia Macfarlane attempted to push the ball to the frontcourt, a hustling Zagurskyte poked the ball back in the Miners possession.
Ultimately, an officiating gaffe helped prevent any hope of a UH comeback. The Rainbow Wahine committed three consecutive fouls in a two-second span in an attempt to get the ball back. But because the officials missed the first bonus situation, UTEP was allowed consecutive one-and-one opportunities. Noni Wharmate's two free throws with seven seconds left sealed the game. Angie McGee missed the front-end of her opportunity but UH could just get one final 3-pointer off before time expired.
Abele, hobbled by a right foot injury suffered the day before the game, showed no ill effects as she made her first three shots of the game and finished with 18 points. She was one of just four players to score for the Rainbow Wahine. Grice added a career-high 12 rebounds and four blocks. Zagurskyte led UTEP with 13 points.
The Rainbow Wahine held the Miners to just 28 percent shooting for the game, including 21 percent during a second-half comeback. But despite shooting a little better than the Miners (31 percent), ice-cold stretches of their own befuddled Hawaii. UH scored just two points in a 12-minute stretch of the first half and trailed 24-17 at the break. The Rainbow Wahine opened the second half by going scoreless for nearly five minutes.
The Rainbow Wahine look to pick up its second road win of the season when it travels to Boise State on Saturday, January 24. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. MST.