The UTEP women’s basketball team played its most complete game of the year to remain undefeated on the season with a resounding 81-52 victory against Lamar inside the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening. Eight different players scored at least seven points for the Miners (7-0), who have matched the 1996-97 team for the best start in program history.
UTEP bolted out to a 39-21 halftime lead, extended it to as many as 36 (79-43) before putting it on cruise control down the stretch against the Cardinals (5-4). The Miners have now won three straight games by at least 29 points against a Division I foe (31, 36 & 29) for the first time in school history. Prior to this stretch UTEP had never posted back-to-back victories by that many points against a division I opponent.
“I was proud of our defense,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We rebounded well, took care of the ball. We were unselfish on offense. That’s good stuff.”
Junior Melisa Mendes tallied 10 points to lead the way for the Miners, in a game which showcased their depth and balance. Sophomore Kelli Willingham and senior Erika Warren pitched in nine points. Senior Gloria Brown, junior Kristine Vitola, sophomore Kayla Thornton and freshman Jenzel Nash all had eight and junior Anete Steinberga chipped in seven.
UTEP shot a crisp 46.6 percent from the floor (34-of-73), registering 23 assists on 34 field-goals made. Thornton posted a career-high four assists to lead the way, while senior Kim Smith registered three. Six other Miners had two helpers each.
The Miners overwhelmed Lamar on the glass, with a 52-30 advantage in rebounding. UTEP racked up 22 offensive rebounds, which played a big role in 25 second-chance points.
At the other end of the court, the Miners simply stifled the Cardinals. UTEP kept the visitors to just 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the floor, while forcing 18 turnovers.
The Miners took care of business in the specialty stats, with a 42-24 advantage in points in the paint, 24-9 edge on points off turnovers and 25-3 cushion on second-chance points. UTEP’s bench poured in 43 points compared to 26 by Lamar’s reserves.
UTEP will be idle for more than a week before it heads up the road to square off against its I-25 rival New Mexico inside the Pit in Albuquerque, N.M., at 2:05 p.m. MST on Saturday, Dec. 10.