The UTEP women’s basketball team opened the game on a 27-0 run and never looked back on the way to a 93-46 conquest of division II program Western New Mexico at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
The Miners (1-2) set program single-game records for both total rebounds (66) and rebounding margin (+45) while the 47-point margin of victory ranks eighth on the charts. UTEP connected on 61.2 percent (41-67) of its shots-the fourth-best effort at the school- while holding the Lady Mustangs to 22.4 percent (15-67), the 11th lowest by a foe.
UTEP dished out 26 assists (tied seventh) on 41 made field goals (tied fourth). Additionally, the Orange and Blue outscored WNMU, 58-0, for points in the paint while more than doubling up the visitors with bench scoring (48-21).
“It was a really good bounce back win for us,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We’ve had two days of really good practices. For our team we understand we are just going to go to work. We’re getting after it and with our hard work we’re going to grow as a team. We are going to really believe in each other; no matter what, that isn’t going to waver. This team is going to be OK with time. We’ve got a lot of work to today. We showed some improvement with today’s game. We’ve worked a lot on our defense, on rebounding, on being more physical. We’re still not there yet but we’re getting there. I’m really proud of the ladies.”
Freshman Zuzanna Puc led the way with a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds, but she had plenty of support. Sparkle Taylor (13 points, 11 rebounds), Najala Howell (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Tamara Seda (10 points, 14 boards) all posted double-doubles while freshman Jakeira Ford added a career-high 13 points in just 14 minutes of action off the bench.
Lulu McKinney dished out a career-high nine assists-while committing only one turnover- to help direct the squad’s offensive efforts. Freshmen Katarina Zec (11 points), Roeshonda Patterson (six points), Faith Cook (five points) also set personal highs in scoring while redshirt-freshman Jessica Barbosa scored two points and had two boards in her collegiate debut.
Jeylynn Fields keyed the efforts for WNMU with 19 points while Jade Botelho added nine.
UTEP came out of the gates on fire, forcing the Lady Mustangs to burn a pair of timeouts in the opening quarter. The Miners connected on 14-of-16 shots (87.5 percent), with 12 assists on those makes, in the dominant first frame that resulted in a 32-6 cushion after 10 minutes. Perhaps most impressive was the balanced effort in the frame, with Zec (nine points), Puc (eight points), Taylor (five points), Cook and Ford (three points), McKinney and Seda (two points) all getting in on the action.
At the other end of the court the Miners held WNMU to 1-14 shooting (7.1 percent), putting the visitors in a hole from which they’d never recover. The Lady Mustangs did manage to whittle the deficit to 21 (45-24) at the break but a 24-5 advantage by the Miners in the third quarter put the game out of reach for good
UTEP will now turn its attention to preparation for competing at the 2016 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Miners have a tremendous opportunity for growth with match-ups against LSU (1:15 p.m. MST, Nov. 24), NC State (1:15 p.m. MST, Nov. 25) and Kansas State (1:15 p.m. MST, Nov. 26).