Laia Raventos dribbles around a defender. Photo by Chris Crews

Charlotte led by 15 points in the first half but could not maintain the lead as the Niners fell to the UTEP Miners 67-58. This loss marks Charlotte’s first defeat in conference play this season.

Laia Raventos had a solid stat line tonight, scoring 20 points along with six assists, five rebounds and four steals. Octavia Wilson also poured in 11 points and six rebounds for the Niners. The Miners were lead by Tamara Seda, who recorded a double-double, with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Najala Howell also put up 16 points and Zuzanna Puc tallied 12 points off the bench for the Miners.

Charlotte (6-10, 2-1 C-USA) started off the game strong, scoring 14 of the game’s first 19 points, including a quick 4-0 start to the game off of great defensive plays from Raventos and Dara Pearson. Both teams kept trading buckets for the rest of the quarter as the Niners went into the second quarter leading 18-10.

The 49ers opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run off of made buckets from Pearson and Raventos. Wilson made a pair of free throws to increase the lead to 25-10. With 6:18 remaining in the second quarter, Charlotte held their largest lead of the night, 25-10. However, the Miners started to mount their comeback led by Seda and Puc. The duo combined to score 10 points, as the Miners outscored the Niners 13-4 for the rest of the quarter. Charlotte was still in the lead 29-23 going into the second half. Wilson scored 10 of her 11 points in the first half.

Charlotte started the third quarter off with a three-pointer from Amaya Ransom, which pushed the lead to nine for the Niners. After Ransom’s made three, Charlotte struggled to make shots for the rest of the quarter as the Miners went on a 9-0 run to tie the game up a 32-32 off of a made triple from Katarina Zec. Wilson made a free throw to end the Miners run and take the lead back. However, UTEP did not take their foot of the gas, as the Miners scored the next nine points to take an eight point lead. Raventos made a mid-range jumper to end the scoring drought for Charlotte. However the Miners scored the last five points in the third quarter, as UTEP led 46-35 going into the final quarter.

The Miners lead by 15 points in the second quarter, Charlotte was outscored by 26 points through the third quarter. During that span, The Niners only shot 3-for-18 from the field and committed nine turnovers.

The 49ers opened the fourth quarter by scoring the first seven points off of jump shots from Pearson and Lauren Harley. With the deficit down to four points, Charlotte missed their next three shots and committed a turnover which costed the Niners. UTEP converted points off of the 49ers misses, as the Miners lead by nine points with over five minutes remaining. Raventos helped the Niners stay in the game as she scored nine consecutive points for Charlotte, including a made three-pointer which cut the deficit down to four points with three minutes remaining. Charlotte could not get the defensive stops they needed down the stretch as both teams continued to trade baskets. Raventos scored a jumper with a minute remaining but UTEP dominated the final minute of the game, as Charlotte fell to the Miners on the road.

Charlotte will remain in Texas to finish off their three-game road trip when they take on North Texas on Saturday Jan. 13 at 4 p.m.