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UTEP Cruises Past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 69-49

UTEP played well in all facets off the game in a convincing 69-49 victory against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Don Haskins Center Saturday evening.

The Miners (2-0) shot 54.3 percent (25-46) from the floor while stifling the Islanders to a readout of 31.1 percent (19-61), including 4-15 (26.7 percent) from distance. UTEP won the boards (38-30), racked up 19 assists compared to 14 turnovers and led for the majority of the contest.

Najala Howell paced the Orange and Blue with 19 points-one shy of a personal best- while also dishing out a career-high seven assists. Katarina Zec (12 points), Tamara Seda (11 points) and Jakeira Ford (10 points) all joined her in double figures for scoring while Jordan Alexander pitched in seven points.

Four different Miners grabbed at least five rebounds, with Ford leading the way with six caroms.

UTEP led by two (14-12) after the first quarter before outscoring the visitors 35-16 over the next two frames to blow open the game.

Dae Dae Evans came off the bench to lead the Islanders with 13 points.

“To coach against Coach Chadwick was an honor,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “He’s a class act and does a great job and has for 30 years. I thought it was a complete game and probably our best game start to finish all year. We practiced really hard this week. We put in a lot of effort to prepare, and I thought it paid off in a really, really big way for our team.”

Visiting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi raced out to a 5-0 over the first two minutes of the game, and it was up by 6 (10-4) midway through the opening stanza. UTEP had an answer, though, in the form of 9-0 run to surge into the lead. As it turned out, the Miners would never trail again.

Howell got things going with the old-fashioned three-point play, which was followed by a baseline jumper from Ford. After the Miners forced a turnover, Faith Cook drilled a transition triple.

The Islanders regrouped and were within two (16-14) with 8:42 to play in the second quarter before UTEP ripped off seven consecutive points. The margin swelled to as many as 11 (27-16) before the Orange and Blue entered the locker room leading by 10 (28-18).

The Miners carried that momentum into the third quarter by scoring the first seven points of the frame to lead by 17 (35-18). The margin was 16 (40-24) with 3:13 left in the period before another 7-0 ballooned to Orange and Blue advantage to 23 (49-26). Texas A&M-Corpus Christi continued to battle the rest of the way but it could never get closer than 19 points down the stretch.

The Miners will return to action when they play host to the sixth-annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic Friday, with Arkansas, NM State and Texas Southern comprising the field.

Fans can get a preview of that event while also getting caught up on UTEP’s 2-0 to the season with the Kevin Baker Radio Show from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Courtyard Marriot Airport (6610 International Dr.).

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