UTEP improves to 7-1 with 19-point win over Weber State


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Senior Jade Rochelle provided a huge spark off the bench by setting career highs in points (15) and steals (6) to help the UTEP women’s basketball team beat Weber State, 70-51 at the Don Haskins Center on Thursday night.

“We push each other so hard in practice. We are all so deep,” said Rochelle. “I feel like that’s how we were so successful in the game.”

Katarina Zec (15 points) and Katia Gallegos (12 points) also reached double figures in the Miners’ (7-1) fourth consecutive win. The Wildcats (1-5) put up quite the fight in the first half, but UTEP had enough in the tank to continue its best start to a season in the Kevin Baker era.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game we played all year and it wasn’t the best game we played all year, but wins come in all shapes and sizes,” said Baker. “You have to take the ugly ones when you have to. We started off the game slow and didn’t have much energy. I’m really proud of the team for fighting through. They toughed it out. You’ve got to give Weber State credit too. They played really well at times.”

UTEP won the boards (42-35), thanks primarily to Ariona Gill’s career-high 14 rebounds. Gill added seven points to flirt with a double-double.

Another factor was the Miners’ defense forcing 31 turnovers, the most by a UTEP opponent in four years. WSU was held to 35.6 percent (16-45) from the floor, including 23.1 percent (3-13) from 3-point range. UTEP connected on 34.4 percent from the floor, but made up for it by getting to the free throw line 39 times (24 makes). The Miners had 12 assists on their 21 field goals made, with freshman Katia Gallegos tallying a game-high five.

“You can’t put a price tag on team chemistry. You can’t put a price on that,” said Baker. “I think that has so much to do with it {starting the season 7-1}. We play so well together and maybe that’s the best way to answer that. We aren’t a perfect team, we are flawed and we have stuff that we need to fix and work on, but our chemistry is good and we share the ball well.”

UTEP will host No. 20 Arizona on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT.

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