Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez
FRISCO, Texas – Six different players hit double figures in scoring as UTEP soared past Florida Atlantic, 95-67, in a record-setting win on Wednesday in the first round of the 2020 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Championships.
“When we get off to a good start, we usually play really well,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “It was crucial the way these young ladies came out of the locker room today, and just played a great game from beginning to end. I couldn’t be more proud of them against a very good FAU team that is extremely well coached. It’s a great tournament win for our team.”
The Miners advance to face second-seeded Old Dominion at 12:30 p.m. MT/1:30 p.m. CT on Thursday. The contest will be streamed by Stadium, and broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso.
The Miners (16-14) broke school conference tournament records for margin of victory (28), points (95 and 3-pointers made (11), while tying the mark for field goals made (33), 3-point percentage (50.0 percent) and overall field-goal percentage (50.0 percent). The effort propels UTEP to the quarterfinals for the third straight year under head coach Kevin Baker, continuing the longest such streak to start a career at the school.
Additionally, the 95 points are the fourth-highest total by any program in C-USA tournament history.
Sabine Lipe (career-high 16 points), Katarina Zec (16 points), DeJaNae Roebuck (13 points), Avery Crouse (12 points) and Arina Khlopkova (10 points) all hit double figures in scoring for UTEP.
The Miners connected on 50.0 percent (33-60) from the floor, including 82.4 percent (14-17) during a dominant first quarter that resulted in them leading by 21 (36-15) through 10 minutes of action. The 36 points scored in the opening framed tied as the most in a quarter in program history. The Miners won the boards (38-31) and forced 22 turnovers that result in 22 points during the wire-to-wire win.
It marked the third time this year that the Orange and Blue have surpassed 90 points without having any individual player tally more than 16 points in a contest.
Crouse, Lipe and Zec all connected on shots to send UTEP out to a 7-0 lead 90+ seconds into the contest, forcing FAU to burn an early timeout. The Owls answered with a 5-0 push, but Zec ended that with her second triple of the tilt. It was a four-point differential (15-11) at the halfway point before UTEP kicked it into high gear.
The Miners ripped off 12 straight points to ignite a 21-4 surge to close the quarter.
The margin swelled to as many as 27 (44-17) with 5:38 to play in the half before the Owls managed to whittle the Miners’ advantage to 20 (48-28) heading into halftime. UTEP continued to control after the break, with FAU unable to get closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Katia Gallegos flirted with a double-double (eight points, eight assists), while Gill pulled down a squad-best seven rebounds. FAU was paced by Crystal Primm’s team-high 24 points.
Gallegos’s eight helpers tied as the second most in a conference tournament game by a Miner.