UTEP Women Open With Win
El Paso — Junior guard Chrishauna Parker registered a double-double (12 points and 12 rebounds) and UTEP’s bench provided 49 points in a 75-58 season-opening romp against UTPB at the Don Haskins Center Friday evening. Junior-college transfer and El Paso native Stacie Telles matched Parker with 12 points, including nine on triples, in a successful debut in front of her hometown crowd.
The Miners (1-0) led the Falcons (0-1), picked second in the Heartland Conference, 43-23, at the half. UTEP eased off the gas pedal in the second half, as head coach Keitha Adams trotted out several different combinations in an attempt to get a feel for her deep squad.
“We got quite a bit of a margin so I went to our newcomers in the second half,” Adams said. “We are in a learning curve with them. It was a good night to be able to do that. UTPB has a good team and they are going to have a good year in their league.”
Eleven different Miners scored in the game, with senior Kayla Thornton (nine points & nine rebounds) falling just short of a double-double. Freshman Sparkle Taylor pitched in eight off the bench, aided by six makes on 12 tries at the charity stripe.
Senior Kristine Vitola pitched in six points and grabbed seven boards in an efficient 18 minutes of action in her return to the court after missing most of last year with a torn ACL. Sophomore Jenzel Nash, who redshirted last year as well due to a torn ACL, pitched in four points and four boards while battling foul trouble.
There was not a great flow to the game, with 49 fouls combined between the two teams. UTEP, which crushed UTPB on the boards (52-37), connected on 30-of-45 free throws at the charity stripe. The 30 makes rank sixth all time in the single-game standings while the 45 makes check in fifth in UTEP’s record books.
The Miners forced 17 turnover while holding UTPB to 28.1 (18-64) percent from the floor. Giselle Loya (18 points) and Valerie Barriga (12 points) provided most of the offensive firepower for the Falcons, with no other UTPB player finishing with more than four points.
UTEP committed 18 miscues of its own while connecting on 37.7 percent (20-of-53), but it compensated for that through the big effort on the glass and at the free-throw line.
The Miners jumped out to a 9-0 lead before consecutive baskets by the visitors trimmed the lead to 9-5. UTEP countered with a 15-2 run over the next six minutes. Kelli Willingham capped the surge with a beautiful coast-to-coast lay-up with the left hand after picking the pocket of Brianna Dominguez.
UTPB whittled the deficit down to 12 (31-19, 5:36 1H) after a triple by Keyondra White but the Orange and Blue put together a 12-4 run to close out the stanza.
The Falcons continued to battle in the second half, but the home side maintained control and a double-digit lead throughout the final 20 minutes.
UTEP will continue its season-opening six-game homestand when it plays host to I-10 rival NM State at 7:05 p.m. MST Tuesday.