The UTEP women’s basketball team bolted out to a 28-4 lead over the first seven minutes of the game and never looked back on the way to routing Houston Baptist, 98-63, in its season opener at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon. The 98 points by the Miners (1-0) are the most ever in a campaign opener, while ranking ninth all time at the school.
After giving up 87 points in a loss to the Huskies (0-2) last year, the Orange and Blue were motivated for a better defensive effort Sunday. The desire came to fruition with HBU being held to 32.7 percent (17-of-52) from the floor.
UTEP also turned up the heat with a trapping press that resulted in 33 turnovers by the visitors, which were converted into 33 points and rank tied for the eighth most in a tilt by an opposing team. Rebounding also favored the Miners (36-34), with seven different players grabbing three or more.
The effort on the defensive end was outstanding, but UTEP was certainly no slouch offensively. The Miners drained 54.7 percent (35-of-64) of their shots, with good ball movement (17 assists) and unselfish play helping fuel the success.
Senior Cameasha Turner poured in 20 points to pace a relentless, balanced attack which by game’s end resulted in 14 of the 15 players suited up scoring at least one point. JuniorsSparkle Taylor came off the bench to score 15 points while fellow classmate Jenzel Nash (11 points) made a successful return to the court (redshirted last year) by joining them in double figures.
“We had a good week of practice and I think it showed,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “It felt like this was an important game for us because last year we lost to them. We were excited about playing, fired up. The team’s intensity was great.”
Turner helped set the tone defensively as well, setting a career high with six steals. Overall the Miners finished with 19 thefts, which is one shy of cracking the UTEP top-10 game list.
As a testament to the Orange and Blue’s depth, UTEP’s bench nearly outscored the entire HBU squad. Miner reserves accounted for 56 points, thanks to the likes of Taylor, sophomoreLulu McKinney (nine points), senior Rudiane Eduardo (eight points) and sophomore Daeshianna McCants (seven points). McCants secured six rebounds to top the team, including four on the offensive end alone.
UTEP pounced on Houston Baptist early, bolting out to a 9-0 lead and forcing the visitors to call timeout eat 8:33 of the first quarter. The timeout proved ineffective, with the tenacious defense helping lead to easy points in transition. UTEP scored on 11 of its first 12 possessions, eventually expanding the lead to as many as 24 (28-4) with 2:39 remaining in the opening frame.
HBU got its offense on a track late in the stanza but it still found itself down by 21 (36-15) at the end of the first quarter. To their credit the Huskies refused to fold up shop, outscoring the Orange and Blue, 17-13, in the second quarter to trim the margin to 17 (49-32) heading into halftime.
Any aspirations of a comeback by the visitors were dashed by the Miners in a dominant third quarter. The home side outscored the Huskies, 31-14, in the frame and were able to put things on cruise control the rest of the way. HBU continued to play hard, which allowed it to hold a slight cushion (18-17) in the fourth quarter but it was far too little too late.
UTEP won’t have long to rest on its laurels, with the season-opening six-game homestand continuing against Northern Arizona at 7:05 p.m. MST Tuesday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids.
Fans who are unable to attend can listen live on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio or watch online through MinerTV (subscription required).
Author: UTEP Athletics