2016 Preseason All C-USA team honoree Sparkle Taylor poured in 18 points while sophomore Najala Howell added 11 off the bench to help the UTEP women’s basketball team knock off St. Mary’s (Texas), 72-54, in an exhibition contest Friday evening.
UTEP connected on 39.1 percent (27-69) of its shots from the floor, including a crisp 46.7 percent (7-15) during the aforementioned strong second quarter. The Miners crushed the Rattlers on the glass (55-35), with redshirt-junior Tamara Seda leading the way with 10 boards. UTEP’s depth also factored into the contest, with the Miners holding a 36-8 advantage from reserve scoring.
“It was not a bad first outing,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We have a lot of young players and lot to learn. We had some moments where we did some good things that we’ve been working on in practice and then we obviously have some areas that we really need to work on. A lot of our new, young players were a little bit nervous for their first big outing under the lights, but I like our kids. We just have to settle in and as they get more comfortable we’ll be better.”
Things went back-and-forth early with four ties and five lead changes over a competitive first quarter of action. UTEP seized control during the second quarter, with Taylor coming alive for eight points to lead a 16-7 charge that afforded the Miners a 12-point cushion (37-25) at the break. St. Mary’s scored the first six points of the third quarter to cut the lead in half (39-33) but the Orange and Blue peeled off eight straight to put away the Rattlers for good. St. Mary’s never got closer than 14 the rest of the way, with the margin swelling to as many as 22 (65-43) at one point.
Adams did a masterful job of spreading the wealth with playing time; all 14 Miners earned at least seven minutes of action, but Taylor (24 minutes) and junior-college transfer Axelle Bernard (20 minutes) were the only players to have 20+ minutes.
It was also a balanced scoring attack with Seda (eight points) and freshmen Roeshonda Patterson (eight points) and Jakeira Ford (seven points) buoying the efforts of Taylor and Howell. The same could be said of the boards, with Ford securing seven rebounds while junior-college transfer Chanel Khammarath and Taylor each grabbed six.
St. Mary’s was led by 14 points from Tyra Cormier and 13 by LaBraile Fields.
The Miners will now turn their focus toward final preparations before officially tipping off their 43rd season as a program when they play host to Northern Arizona at 7:05 p.m. MST Nov. 11. That game will be the first of three straight at home for the Miners, who will also face Texas Southern (2 p.m. MST, Nov. 13) and Western New Mexico (7:05 p.m., MST, Nov. 17).
Season tickets remain on sale and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-6150.