BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Old Dominion women's basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS with an 80-70 triumph over UTEP on Wednesday evening at Bartow Arena.
Trailing 61-55 at the end of the third quarter, Old Dominion (17-13) outscored the Miners, 25-9, in the final quarter, as Jennie Simms scored 10 fourth-quarter points and the ODU defense held UTEP (8-23) to 21 percent shooting in the final quarter.
"We were tough and resilient. I credit UTEP for how tough they play and it was a battle. I’m proud of this team and how they stayed together," said head coach Karen Barefoot. "Jennie (Simms) was a great leader and she made the team until we took the lead. We’re a team that showed a lot of effort and is tough and played with a ton of passion."
Simms finished with 29 points and eight rebounds, while Annika Holopainen and Gianna Smith also recorded double-figure scoring games with 12 points each. Simms, now at 2,118 career points, also passed Celeste Hill for fifth on the ODU all-time scoring list.
The Miners got off to a hot start, shooting 60 percent from the field in the opening quarter to lead 23-21 at the end of one. UTEP carried that momentum into the second, as the Miners opened the quarter with a 10-2 run to extend its lead to 33-23. UTEP pushed the margin to as much as 11 at 40-29, but ODU closed the first half with a quick 7-2 run to close the margin to 45-40 at the half.
UTEP shot 56 percent in the first half, while holding ODU to 35 percent. Sparkle Taylor paced UTEP in the opening half, scoring 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Taylor upped her scoring total to 30 by the end of third quarter, as the Miners carried a 61-55 lead into the fourth. However, the Lady Monarchs held Taylor to just two points on 1-of-4 shooting in the fourth and ODU utilized a 12-0 run midway through the quarter to seize the come-from-behind victory.
"I think we changed into a defense that worked for us and we were able to matchup with it," said Barefoot. "We kept Sparkle (Taylor) under control. We were able to keep UTEP to one possession and we dug deep."
UP NEXT The Lady Monarchs play No. 3 seed Southern Miss in the quarterfinals tomorrow at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT at Bartow Arena. The game will streamed on Campus Insiders and live on Twitter.
C-USA FIRST ROUND RESULTS #8 North Texas 65, #9 UAB 62 (2OT) #5 Charlotte 71, #12 Marshall 66 #10 Rice 75, #7 UTSA 63 #6 Old Dominion 80, #11 UTEP 70