UTEP women return from 16-day COVID-19 layoff to beat Texas State 69-57


SAN MARCOS, Texas – The UTEP women’s basketball team, after not playing for 16 days, opened the contest with an 8-0 run and never looked back in a 69-57 victory on Monday night at Strahan Arena.

The Miners (6-1), who never trailed, won their first road game of the season, while Texas State (5-4) dropped its second straight contest. It was UTEP’s first game since Nov. 27, after a 16-day layoff due to a rash of COVID-19 cases within the program.

“I’m very proud of our team for playing so well on three days of practice,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “The was a very difficult road win versus a very talented team. We did all the little things necessary to win tonight. We leaned on our bench once again, and they came through.”

Destiny Thurman led the Miners with 20 points on a career-high tying five 3-pointers (5-of-9). Katia Gallegos, after struggling in her last contest, scored 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting and tallied three assists with three rebounds. Brenda Fontana led UTEP with six rebounds, a career-best four assists and career-high three steals in over 20 minutes off the bench. Fontana added six points and blocked shot. Teal Battle also hit double-digit figures with 12 points, registered five rebounds and dished out three assists.

Battle (two steals), Gallegos (two) and Fontana (three) accounted for six of the Miners’ 10 on the night. UTEP’s 10 steals was one short of tying the season high.

UTEP shot 43.9 percent from the floor and outscored Texas State’s bench 15-5. The Miners won the 3-point shootout, hitting 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) to the Bobcats’ 4-of-15 effort.

Da’Nasia Hood, the Bobcats’ leading scorer (14.0 ppg), and Lauryn Thompson (9.6 ppg), two key players from Texas State, weren’t available for Monday’s contest.

The Miners outscored the Bobcats 23-13 in the first quarter. UTEP shot 50 percent (7-14), led by Gallegos’s seven points. Gallegos, who scored only one point against Kansas on Nov. 27, opened the contest by sinking a 3-point bucket from the left side corner. Battle and Thurman each scored four points in the opening stanza.

UTEP shot 43.8 percent in the second quarter, building a 40-28 lead at the half. Thurman tallied six points in the second quarter, while totaling 10 points at the break. Crouse added five points.

Thought Texas State cut the lead to seven points (40-33) at the 6:59 mark, Avery Crouse hit a 3-pointer to put it back at a double-digit lead (43-33). The lead eventually ballooned to 17 points (57-40) after three quarters. UTEP outscored Texas State 17-12 in the quarter. Eliana Cabral tallied five pints on perfect shooting (2-2 FG, 1-1 FT).

The Bobcats chipped away at the lead after outscoring the Miners 17-12 in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

Crouse scored nine points to go along with three rebounds, two assists, and a team-high two blocked shots. Cabral scored seven points in over 13 minutes off the bench. Adhel Tac connected on her only shot attempt, playing 5:25 off the bench. Mahri Petree (10:58), Erin Wilson (6:37), Grace Alvarez (2:49) and Dagne Apsite (2:24) all saw action off the bench for the Miners.

Jaeda Reed scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, and seven rebounds, while Ja’Kayla Bowie (13) and Kennedy Taylor (12) hit double figures. TSU shot 42.9 percent from the field, and outscored UTEP 37-33.

The Miners will play at rival New Mexico State in game two of this season’s Battle of I-10 on Wednesday, Dec. 15 with tip set for 6 p.m. The contest was rescheduled after COVID-19 protocols within the UTEP program. The contest was originally to played on Dec. 1. UTEP defeated the Aggies in the first contest, 76-61, on Nov. 17 in the Haskins Center.

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