Teal Battle scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds in her UTEP debut, while Destiny Thurman also tallied 16 and dished out four assists, leading the Miners (1-0) to an 81-47 dominating victory over Incarnate Word (0-1) in Thursday night’s season opener at the Haskins Center.
Katia Gallegos added 12 points and a team-high five dimes, and Eliana Cabral, in her debut, was the fourth Miner in double figures (10 points).
The Miners forced 25 turnovers and snagged 11 steals. UTEP outrebounded the Cardinals, 38-29. UTEP also tallied 17 assists to only 13 turnovers.
“I was mainly pleased with our defense,” fifth-year UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “Anytime you hold anybody to 47 points, you’ve done a pretty good job. [In the third quarter] those were points off steals, points in transition. We got out and ran a little bit, which is what we’re really good at. It was helpful, because we weren’t scoring in our half-court offense.”
The second half was all UTEP, as it outscored UIW, 44-19, including 26-9 in the third quarter. The Miners held UIW to 18-of-45 shooting, while in the third quarter the Cardinals shot 16.7 percent (2-12).
UTEP got off to a slow start, finding itself down 4-3 early. But Thurman started a 15-0 run on a pair of made free throws, while Elina Arike capped the run on a layup from a Gallegos pass.
UTEP shot over 47 percent from the floor (30-63), including over 38 percent from downtown (7-18).
Avery Crouse tallied five points, seven rebounds and two assists. Erin Wilson added seven points in her debut, while Mahri Petree (five points), Arike (four points), Dagne Apsite (four points) and Brenda Fontana (two points) got into the scoring action.
Baker went deep on the bench. Grace Alvarez, the team’s lone true freshman, saw action and recorded a pair of assists, while Adhel Tac registered a rebound in her debut.
The UTEP bench outscored UIW, 28-16.
“It’s always good when you can get players experience off the bench,” Baker added. “I thought our bench came in and played really well.”
The 34-point win was the largest in a season opener during the Baker era, while it was the second-largest margin of victory over a Division I school in the season opener in program history (98-63 vs. Houston Baptist in 2015).
The Miners scored 28 points off turnovers to UIW’s two points, and tallied 13 points off fast breaks.
The Miners will host North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 13 with tip set for 1 p.m. Miner fans can listen live on the UTEP Miners with Adrian Broaddus calling the action. UTEP will also host NM State (Nov. 17, 7 p.m.) and Northern Arizona (Nov. 20, 7 p.m.) during the four-game home stand to open the season.
Photo gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post