POSTED: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 11:10pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 11:41pm
Behind stifling defense, the UTEP women’s basketball team cruised past New Mexico State, 63-27, to complete the sweep of the Sonic Battle of I-10 series at the Don Haskins Center Tuesday evening.
It marks the largest margin of victory in the series for the Miners (6-0), who can match the program standard for best start to a season with a triumph against Lamar at 7:05 p.m. MST Thursday.
It was a historic defensive night for UTEP, which set program records against a division I team for fewest points allowed in a half (eight) and game (27) and field-goal percentage defense (18.4 percent). The home side led the Aggies (1-6) 23-8 at the break and was up by at least 30 over the final 10 minutes of the contest.
Additionally, the Orange and Blue have now registered consecutive victories by 30 or more points against a division I foe for the first time in school history. The Miners crushed previously unbeaten Denver, 80-49 on Nov. 26 before pounding the Aggies tonight.
“That was some good defense,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “It was a great effort and I’m really proud. If we guard and then move the basketball on offense, good things can happen.”
The effort affords the Miners their first sweep of the series since 2007-08 and ninth overall. Five of the sweeps have come during Adams’ tenure. UTEP is now 13-9 against the Aggies under Adams, making her the lone coach in school history to have a winning record against their Sonic I-10 rivals.
Kelli Willingham tallied 13 points while Kayla Thornton pitched in 12 points to lead the offensive efforts for the Orange and Blue. Freshman Chrishauna Parker pitched in eight off the bench while Ryah Lacy chipped in seven, but the night belonged to the defense.
UTEP limited NM State to just 9-of-49 shooting from the floor, including 1-of-11 from beyond-the-arc. The Miners also harassed the visitors into committing 25 points.
Kristine Vitola was a key cog defensively, with a pair of blocked shots to go along with a career-high 10 rebounds and two steals. Willingham registered a trio of steals.
The Miners won the rebounding battle, 39-37, to move to 4-0 on the season when doing so. UTEP out-scored NM State, 38-12, in points in the paint, 21-6 in points off turnovers, 12-8 on second chance and 10-0 in fast-break points.
Tabytha Wampler paced NM State with eight points, but no other player pitched in more than four points.
UTEP will wrap up its five-game home stand while looking to match the 1996-97 squad for best start to a season in program history when it plays host to the Cardinals (5-3) on Thursday.