EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — UTEP point guard Katia Gallegos is just a sophomore, but she’s playing beyond her years for the Miners this season.
As a true freshman, Gallegos led Conference USA in assists (154) and set a program record in the process. Through the first 11 games this season, the El Paso native continues to distribute the basketball at a high level with 54 assists, but she’s scoring at a much higher rate. Gallegos is averaging 16.5 points per game this season, which is up from 9.5 points per game a season ago.
“As a point guard, I’m always looking out for my teammates, but I’ve for sure put up a lot more shots, creating chances, and driving it in the lane,” said Gallegos. “It’s just — we have to win this year. I have to do a lot more in my part for the team.”
It’s not like Gallegos is taking bad shots, either. She is shooting 45.2 percent from the floor and 31.6 percent from three-point, scoring in double-digits in all but two games this season. Gallegos has put up 20+ points in four games, all while averaging 4.8 assists per game.
“I’ve been coaching a long time — I don’t know that I’ve seen a player grow as much as Katia [Gallegos] has in just one year,” said head coach Kevin Baker. “She has taken a leadership role in terms of what she does on the floor and she’s playing at a really high level right now.”
Scoring is in Gallegos’ arsenal. She averaged over 30 points per game as a senior at Franklin High School and she’s beginning to play with more and more swagger as a college player.
“This year, I just have more confidence in my shot, my takes and my decision making,” said Gallegos. “I think it’s something that I will continue to grow, especially with my teammates and the chemistry we have going on. They’re [teammates] giving me the confidence to make shots.”
Did I mention she’s just a sophomore? Gallegos has embraced the role as the UTEP starting point guard the moment she walked on campus and has continued to expand her game.
“I think the thing people need to be most worried about if you’re a Conference USA school is that this is just the beginning for her,” said Baker. “She’s just getting going, she’s going to improve, she’s going to get better and better.”
The Miners have started the season 6-5 (3-3) and are battle tested. UTEP has won close games in non-conference play, they went toe-to-toe against the conference’s best in Rice, and they’ve shown mental toughness in a win over North Texas last Saturday following a loss to the Mean Green on Friday night. Safe to say the team has taken on the mentality of their point guard.
UTEP will travel to Ruston, Louisiana, for a back-to-back series against LA Tech this weekend. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT on Friday and 5:30 p.m. MT on Saturday.