UTEP relied on a balanced scoring attack to dispatch Division II St. Mary’s (Texas) ,70-51, in an exhibition game at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon.
Junior Zuzanna Puc (15 points), senior Jordan Alexander (13 points) and junior Katarina Zec (10 points) all hit double figures in scoring while sophomore transfer Alexa Hoy (nine points) and sophomore Jordan Jenkins (eight points) also got things going offensively.
UTEP connected on 44.4 percent (24-54) of its shots from the floor, including banging home 8-17 (47.1 percent) from 3-point range. The visitors were held to a readout of 30.5 percent (18-59) from the field while also committing 18 turnovers. UTEP converted those giveaways into 18 points. It also had a significant advantage for points in the paint (32-14).
Kaitlin Walla (16 points) and Arysia Porter (10 points) paced the Rattlers.
“We are a lot better this week than we were last week. That was the goal,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “It was very noticeable that we were playing better basketball in a week’s time. I’m pleased with that. We rebounded the ball better in the second half. I’m pleased about that. If we keep getting better at this rate, then I think we got something going.”
Alexander snagged a squad-best six rebounds while Zec was credited with a team-leading four assists. Junior transfer Jade Rochelle came off the bench to score five points and secure five boards in 18 minutes of action. All 10 Miners who dressed garnered at least seven minutes of playing time.
UTEP won the rebounding battle,39-37, which was made possible by a 25-13 advantage on the glass in the second half.
The Orange and Blue scored the first eight points of the game to help fuel a 12-2 run over the opening four minutes of the contest. The Rattlers halted it with a 3-pointer from Walla to get within seven (12-5), but UTEP responded with a 10-3 surge to close out the first quarter up by 14 (22-8).
Puc finished a short jumper in the paint off a feed from Ariona Gill to extend the margin to 16 (24-8) early in the second frame. St. Mary’s battled back behind a 19-9 run to reduce the margin to six (33-27). A pair of Alexander free throws afforded the home side an eight-point cushion (35-27) heading into the locker room.
The differential was back to six (37-31) with 8:31 left in the third quarter before UTEP found another gear. The Orange and Blue ripped off a 12-2 run to vault out by 16 (49-33) midway through the frame. The visitors didn’t get closer than 10 the rest of the way out, with the Miner lead ballooning to 21 late in the contest.
UTEP will tip off its 45th season in program history when it plays host to Alcorn State at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Fans who purchase a ticket to the UTEP football team’s match-up vs. Middle Tennessee (1 p.m.) on Saturday may also use the ticket for admission into the contest against Alcorn State (7 p.m.) Otherwise tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be bought by calling (915) 747-5234.