EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Senior Ariona Gill posted a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), and UTEP defended with furor in a 65-45 vanquishing of I-10 rival NM State to complete the season sweep of the Aggies at the Don Haskins Center Saturday evening.
The Miners (4-1) led wire-to-wire in the 20-point victory against the Aggies (1-5). UTEP held NM State to 33.9 percent (21-62) from the floor, including a paltry 6.7 percent (1-15) from 3-point range. The Miners also forced 19 turnovers, which led to 19 points, and crushed the Aggies on the boards, 51-30.
“I’m very pleased with the way the we defended,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “I’m also exceptionally proud of two things. I’m proud of our team in the way we battled today, but I’m also proud of the crowd that came out tonight. We really appreciate that.”
Freshman Katia Gallegos turned in an outstanding all-around effort. She scored 10 points while setting career highs in rebounds (seven), assists (six) and steals (four) in 29 minutes of action. Senior Katarina Zec also hit double digits (11 points) in scoring for the fifth time in as many games on the year while freshman Avery Crouse netted eight points.
UTEP shot 41.5 percent (27-65) from the floor, including 52.9 percent (9-17) during a second quarter where it outscored the visitors, 20-10. But the Miners’ defense stole the show. UTEP set season bests for fewest points allowed (45) and 3-point percentage defense (6.7 percent). The Aggies had 25 points through three quarters before putting up 20 points in the final frame, when the outcome was already decided.
NM State was paced by 18 points from Gia Pack, with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
It was back-and-forth over the first 12 minutes of the contest, with UTEP leading by one (14-13). The Miners heated up and closed the half on an 18-4 run to go into the locker room up by 15. NM State never got closer than that the rest of the way, with the lead ballooning to as many as 32 at one point before UTEP settled for the 20-point win.
The Miners will return to action with the Eighth-Annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic from Nov. 29-30 at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners will play twice in as many days, squaring off with Western Michigan (3:30 p.m., Nov. 29) and Georgia State (7:30 p.m., Nov. 30). In the other match-ups for the classic, NM State will face both Georgia State (1 p.m., Nov. 29) and Western Michigan (5 p.m., Nov. 30).