EL PASO, Texas – UTEP bolted out to the largest halftime lead in a conference game in program history on the way to drilling Florida Atlantic, 96-65, at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon.
The Miners (9-4, 2-0 C-USA) led by 22 (47-25) at the break and never let the Owls (7-6, 1-1 C-USA back into the game as they improved to 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2016. Furthermore, UTEP has won consecutive league contests by at least 30 points for the first occasion in program history. The Miners blasted FIU, 64-34, on Jan. 2, and followed that up with the 31-point vanquishing of the Owls Saturday.
Freshman Katia Gallegos posted her first career double-double (11 points, career-high 11 rebounds) while also dishing out a game-best six assists to set the tone for the home side. Junior DeJaNae Roebuck (career-high 14 points) provided a spark off the bench while senior Ariona Gill nearly recorded a double-double after finishing with 14 points and nine boards. All 12 players who dressed scored in the game.
The 96 points are the most by the Miners under head coach Kevin Baker and rate as the fourth-highest total in a conference game in program annals. UTEP scored at least 22 points in each quarter and shot better than 47 percent in all four frames as well.
“It was good to see us come out on attack and be really, really aggressive,” Baker said. “We knew we were going to have to guard them really aggressively because they have such a good team. It was a great defensive effort today for us, and that bled over into our offense. Our defense got us the ability to run a little bit, and we are always better in transition.”
Overall the Miners finished at 52.3 percent (34-65) from the field, aided by a sizzling 69.2 percent (9-13) in the second quarter. It was a much different story for the Owls, who were limited to 34.6 percent (18-52) from the floor. UTEP also forced 20 turnovers that led to 25 points.
Arina Khlopkova and Sabine Lipe both netted nine points. Michelle Pruitt finished with eight and Katarina Zec at seven. UTEP pounded FAU, 52-14, for points in the paint while also holding a 15-4 advantage on second-chance points. The Miners controlled the boards, 45-31.
It was back-and-forth over the first five minutes, with UTEP leading by three (11-8) at the halfway point of the opening frame. The Miners kicked it into high gear, wrapping a 28-3 run around the quarter break to vault out by 28 (39-11) with five minutes left in the half. The game-changing surge included 19 straight points by the home side. FAU put together a push late in the half to get within 22 at the break, but the damage had been done.
UTEP continued to control as the game wore on, eventually leading by as many as 34.
Three players reached double figures in scoring for the Owls, including Alexa Zaph’s squad-best 12 points.
UTEP will open up the road portion of its league schedule when it plays at Southern Miss at 5 p.m. MT/6 p.m. CT on Thursday.