EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – In what was the biggest win of their season so far, according to sophomore point guard Katia Gallegos, the UTEP women defeated North Texas 62-52 on Saturday afternoon.
The Miners (6-5, 3-3 Conference USA) got 21 points and 6 assists from Gallegos and 18 points from Clemson transfer Isis Lopes, as UTEP closed the game strong to hand the Mean Green (8-3, 5-1 C-USA) their first league loss of the season.
The victory also snapped a three-game Miner skid, and proved UTEP is capable of not only hanging with, but beating some of the top teams in C-USA.
“We hit timely shots today,” head coach Kevin Baker said. “Down the stretch against Rice and in yesterday’s game, we just didn’t hit the timely shots that we needed to. Today, we hit timely shots. We had a bunch of kids come through and make some big shots in the fourth quarter when we really needed them. I’m so proud of them for that because they played such great defense again today. After holding Rice to 55 last Saturday and UNT to 52 today, they are really playing some good defense, so it was nice to see us get some payoff. We’ve been losing those close games and we came away with a big one today. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
After North Texas tied the game at 50 with a shade over 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter, UTEP went to work, closing the game on a 12-2 run. Gallegos and Lopes each hit crucial three-pointers in that stretch, and Michelle Pruitt had some key plays as well.
The Miners shot 50 percent from the field (26-52) and 20 percent from behind the arc, but UTEP came up with a pair of crucial three-pointers over the final four minutes when it mattered most.
The Mean Green were led by N’Yah Boyd, who had 19 points in the game to go along with three assists and three rebounds. Tommisha Lampkin led UNT on the boards with six rebounds, while Destinee McDowell added five rebounds.
“We beat a very good North Texas team,” Baker said. “This is one of the best North Texas teams they have had in many years and it sure showed. They are super hard to guard. In the past couple of years, I would say this is one of the bigger [wins] because they are a good team. But you know, we are a team on the rise and I hope that people see this in our conference and take note that we are to be dealt with. That makes me feel good because these kids deserve it.”
UTEP will now travel to take on Louisiana Tech on Jan. 22-23 at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston.