Freshman phenom leading hometown Miners

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — If you like points — you like scoring — you will love the brand of basketball the UTEP Women’s Basketball team is putting on the floor.

“We are fun to watch,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Baker. “We press for 40 minutes, we get up and down and we’re great in transition.”

UTEP has scored 80-plus points in four consecutive games for the first time in program history. A key part of their success is the play from freshman guard Katia Gallegos.

“I was really nervous coming into UTEP, but once I hit the floor, it was like, ‘I’m good, they got my back’,” said Gallegos.

This time last year, Gallegos was running the floor at Franklin High School while the Miners struggled. UTEP went just 9-22 last season and they’ve already surpassed their win total with 11 at the midway point.

“I think that’s what we’ve been missing all these years is a point guard distributing the ball and seeing the floor well,” said UTEP senior forward Katarina Zec. “I really enjoy playing with her, because she sees everything.”

“Every team is better when they have a great quarterback. This year, we have a great quarterback. She’s [Gallegos] doing a great job playing the point guard position for us this year and we’re feeding off her energy,” said Baker.

Gallegos is leading the Conference USA in assists (80) and assists per game (5.0). The freshman phenom is also averaging 9.9 points per game, but her role on this team goes much deeper. As a hometown girl from El Paso and a rising star on the team, she’s essentially become the ambassador for the program.

“A lot of these young kids, they come in here and they come to see Katia [Gallegos] play. They want to be just like her,” said Baker.

Gallegos is aware of the spotlight and knows the responsibility that comes with it.

“All eyes are on me, so I have to be careful what I do, what I tweet, what I do on social media, what I say and how I act,” she said.

The miners will need Gallegos to continue to play beyond her years on Thursday night when UTEP plays Rice in the biggest game of the Kevin Baker era. The Owls have won 25-straight Conference USA games.

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