File photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
SAN ANTONIO – Avery Crouse poured in a career-high 21 points, Ariona Gill posted a monstrous double-double (17 points, 18 rebounds), and Katia Gallegos (17 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) and Michelle Pruitt (14 points) also got after it as UTEP used a huge fourth quarter to post a convincing 85-59 win at UTSA Thursday evening.
Gill’s 18 boards are the second most in a road game by a Miner, in addition to tying as the fifth-highest total ever in program history.
The Miners (14-11, 7-7 C-USA) led by four (56-52) after 30 minutes of action before outscoring the Roadrunners (6-19, 2-12 C-USA) 29-7 in the fourth quarter to cruise to the road victory and get back to even in league play.
UTEP won the boards (46-36), forced 22 turnovers that led to 28 points, piled up 56 points in the paint and shot a solid 45.0 percent (36-80). UTSA was a respectable 40.7 percent (22-54) from the floor, but it was held to just 20 percent shooting during the decisive final frame. Conversely, the Orange and Blue connected on 65 percent (13-20) over the final 10 minutes of action.
“Our team kept battling and everything kind of fell in place in the fourth quarter,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We finally killed their momentum offensively, and we kind of took over with what we do on offense on our end.”
UTEP shared the ball effectively by piling up 20 assists while committing only eight turnovers. Gallegos keyed the charge with seven helpers, while Katarina Zec dished out a quartet of assists and Crouse added three. The Miners piled up 22 offensive boards, with 10 of Gill’s career-best 18 rebounds coming at that end.
UTEP used a jumper by Zec and a triple from Crouse to vault out to a 5-0 lead one minute into the contest. The Roadrunners struck back with a 9-2 push to take the lead, but UTEP had a response. It came in the form of a 9-0 run, with five from Gallegos, to propel the Miners out by seven (16-9) with 2:35 to play in the opening quarter.
The differential was eight (21-13) late in the quarter before UTSA scored five straight to cut the Miners’ lead to three (21-18) at the end of the first quarter.
It was a similar story in the second quarter, with UTEP pushing the lead out to seven on numerous occasions, only to have the Roadrunners do just enough to hang around. After a Sabine Lipe jumper with 3:44 to play that made it 35-28 in favor of the Miners, UTSA closed the half with a little 6-2 push to trim the UTEP margin to three (37-34) heading into the locker room.
The two sides traded scores in the third quarter, and the differential was four (56-52) going into the final quarter of play. UTSA aspired to rally, but the Orange and Blue snuffed that out by dominating all facets of the game on the way to outscoring the home side by 22 (29-7) over the final 10 minutes.
The 29 points in the fourth quarter marked the second-highest scoring fourth quarter at the school.
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