EL PASO, Texas – Katarina Zec poured in a game-high 23 points to help lead the UTEP women’s basketball team to a 59-47 victory in an exhibition game against Division II St. Mary’s (TX) at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon.
The Miners trailed early on before an 18-4 run put them out by 12 midway through the second quarter, and the Rattlers never led again.
“I’m really proud of our team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We hit a lull in scoring, but we were taking such good shots. There wasn’t very much for me as a coach to correct or adjust to. We played good enough defense (to overcome missing some shots), holding them to 47 points.”
Michelle Pruitt tallied 10 points to join Zec in double figures for scoring while Ariona Gill (nine points) and Katia Gallegos (seven points) also got involved. Gill grabbed a contest-best 10 boards to nearly record a double-double in the process. UTEP forced 22 turnovers and held St. Mary’s (TX) to 34.7 percent (17-49) from the floor.
St. Mary’s took an early 6-4 lead two minutes into the contest before UTEP picked up the intensity on both ends of the court. The result was wrapping an 18-4 run around the quarter break to steam ahead by 12 (22-10) with 7:54 to play in the half. It was back-and-forth the remainder of the stanza, with the Miners settling for a seven-point cushion (32-25) heading into halftime.
UTEP opened up the second half on an 8-2 push to secure its largest lead (40-27) of the contest. Zec capped the sequence by burying one of her four triples (on eight tries) in the game. The Rattlers trimmed the margin to seven through three quarters.
The visitors continued to try to rally in the final frame getting within three points twice, but UTEP reinstated control with a 7-0 run. The Miners continued to cruise down the stretch, closing the game in style. UTEP will tip off the 2019-20 regular season when it plays host to UC Irvine at 7 p.m. MT on Nov. 9.