UTEP Women's Basketball Opens Up Exhibition Season with Win


POSTED: Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 7:43pm

UPDATED: Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 11:49pm

Powered by a solid showing defensively and a balanced approach on offense, the UTEP women’s basketball team rolled past St. Mary’s, 67-37, in an exhibition contest at the Don Haskins Center on Sunday. The Miners lead by 10 (26-16) at the break running over the Rattlers (41-21) in the second stanza.

Five different players scored at least seven points for the Orange and Blue, with Gloria Brown, Briana Green and Kayla Thornton leading the way with 10 points each. Freshman guard Kelli Willingham (nine points), junior forward Erika Warren (eight points) and sophomore post Anete Steinberga (seven points) also got in on the action. Mareta Bailey (15 points) was the top threat for St. Mary’s.

UTEP connected on 47.9 percent (23-of-48) from the floor, including a readout of 57.5 (15-26) in the second half. The Rattlers were baffled by the Miners’ pressure defense throughout the tilt. They sunk only 28.3 percent (13-of-46) of their tries while also being harassed into committing 24 turnovers. The homestanding squad converted those giveaways into 27 points.

Willinghman was a key defensively, pitching in six steals while Green contributed two thefts. UTEP also controlled the glass by out boarding St. Mary’s (34-27), with much credit going to Thornton (seven rebounds) and sophomore forward Kristine Vitola (six caroms).

“There were some positives we can take from today’s game,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We definitely have some things to work on, but I was pleased in some areas.”

The two squads traded baskets early on, and the score was tied (9-9) with 15:04 to play in the opening period. UTEP asserted itself quickly, though, relying upon stifling defense to rip control of the game.
The Miners put together a 13-1 run over the next 10 minutes, with the surge being capped by a long triple from Green. St. Mary’s halted the sequence with a layup by Dominique Crawford to make the score 22-12 in favor of UTEP, but the damage had been done.

The advantage for the home squad reached 14 (26-12) in the waning minutes of the period before the Rattlers pitched in four straight to close the deficit to 10 (26-16) at the break.

The second half started much like the first, with things going back-and-forth early on. That all changed quickly, though, after some encouraging words by Adams during a timeout were reflected in a 7-0 spurt in a span of a little more than a minute.

Brown started the sequence with a layup, which was followed by a three-pointer courtesy of Willingham. The junior-college product then capped the stretch by converting another layup, off a feed from Green.
St. Mary’s trimmed UTEP’s lead to 14 (35-21) with 15:07 to play, but the Miners countered with an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach for good. The Rattlers never got closer 18 down the stretch, with UTEP leading by as many as 32 (67-35).

The Miners will be back in action when they open their 28-game 2010-11 regular-season slate by playing host to UC-Irvine at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday. The contest will be the first of seven straight at home to christen the campaign for the Orange and Blue.

Fans can receive free admission to that game by purchasing a ticket to the UTEP men’s basketball team’s season opener against Pacific, which is slated for 7:05 p.m. on Friday

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