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Miners hold off upset-minded Golden Eagles for 18th straight win

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Kasia Krezel scored 21, Jareica Hughes added 19 and Texas-El Paso (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) held Southern Miss scoreless for the final 3:36 of regulation in a 73-72 overtime victory Friday night. The win guaranteed the Miners a share of the Conference USA title.

Hughes hit two of UTEP's three 3-pointers during a 9-0 run to tie it at 65 at the end of regulation. Krezel added another 3 in overtime as the Miners (22-2, 13-0 C-USA) outscored the Golden Eagles (15-11, 6-7) to win their 18th straight game -- eighth in a row on the road.

Izabela Piekarska had three of her five points in overtime, including the go-head free throw with 1:07 left. Southern Miss' Andrea Barber missed a shot as time expired.

UTEP, which achieved its highest-ever ranking in the Top 25 early in the week, clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and is guaranteed at least a share of the regular-season title with SMU.

Southern Miss, which had won four of five coming into the game, led 35-30 at halftime and kept that margin through much of the second half. The Golden Eagles rallied and took a 65-56 lead with 3:36 remaining, but the Miners held them scoreless the rest of the way.

Hughes hit two straight 3s in a 55 second span and Natasha Lacey, who had 17 points, tied the score with 50 seconds left in regulation on another 3.

Stephanie Helgeson led Southern Miss with 19 points, while Kendra Reed, Amber Eugene and Pauline Love each chipped in 14.