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Everything you need to know: UTEP vs. Rutgers WNIT championship

By: Jesse Martinez, Sarai Bejarano, Krista Garvin 
EL PASO, Texas - The University of Texas at El Paso women's basketball team took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for the Women's National Invitational Tournament championship Saturday.

The game began at 1 p.m. at the sold-out Don Haskins Center. 

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights dominated the first half of the game with Rutgers leading by 30 to 16 at halftime. The UTEP Miners came back at the end of the game and tied the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 48 points with five minutes left in the game. The UTEP Miners then tied once more with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights with eight seconds left in the game. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights won the game, 56-54. 

About two hours after UTEP's win in the WNIT semi finals, the championship game sold out. The sold-out crowd of 12,222 at the Don Haskins center will be the seventh largest championship game in WNIT history.

UTEP's record for the highest attendance in a single women's basketball game was 7,255 vs. SMU on Feb, 28, 2008. That record was broken this year three times starting with the March 28 game in Colorado with an attendance of 8,234.

The UTEP Miners were 29-7 in the regular season and Rutgers was 27-9.

UTEP is 19-1 under Head Coach Keitha Adams in home games with more than 4,000 fans.

Rutgers has only played in front of 10,000-plus fans twice this season and lost both games, which were against teams that were No. 1 and No. 3 in their conference.

In the last three games of the tournament, UTEP squeezed by winning by no more than eight points. In Wednesday's semi finals, UTEP topped South Dakota State by just three points.

Originally, the location of the WNIT championship game was unknown due to the fact that the Don Haskins Center was booked on Saturday for more than a year.

Earlier this week, Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is hosting the Festival of Hope, said it would give up the venue if the team makes it to the championship game - and they did.

"We will gladly give up the arena and will move our 6 p.m. event to another location on campus. We want everyone who has been a part of planning this festival, including more than 200 area churches, to also be a part of UTEP Women's Basketball," Franklin Graham said.

Franklin Graham said if the Miners make it to the championship game, he and his festival team would be in the stands cheering, and he hopes that students and fans will join him and their musical guests at the Greater El Paso Festival of Hope.

That event will be Saturday and Sunday with free admission. For details on the Festival of Hope, visit http://elpasofestival.org/.




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