UTEP Silences the Owls 70-44 in a Dominant Performance
The UTEP Women's basketball team clicked on all cylinders on Thursday evening in Boca Raton, Fla to get a crucial road victory, and now sit alone as the 11th seed in C-USA. It was the Miners' first win in over a month as they last tasted victory at UTSA to begin conference play back on January 5. The 26-point win by UTEP ties the largest margin of victory in the Kevin Baker era. Playing shorthanded with only seven dressed for the fourth consecutive game, the Miners came out aggressively from start to finish as they outscored the Owls 12-6 in the first quarter.
A picture perfect second quarter gave UTEP a commanding 35-14 lead at the half, which was the largest halftime advantage that the team has had over any conference opponent in the past 10 years when they were up by 24 (55-31) against Southern Miss on Feb. 21, 2009. The Miners relentless pursuit continued throughout the remainder of the contest en route to the 70-44 victory.
Zuzanna Puc led all scorers with 18 points and 7 rebounds, Katarina Zec continued her double-digit scoring as she netted 16 points, Ariana Taylor added 9, while Jade Rochelle contributed with 8 points and 8 boards. Neidy Ocuane also had a solid outing with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
The Miners (5-18, 2-8 C-USA) held the Owls (4-19, 1-9 C-USA) to the lowest field-goal percentage (24.5 percent) by a conference foe since former league member Tulsa shot 20.6 percent on Jan. 31, 2013. UTEP, on the other hand, shot 52.0 percent from the floor and were particularly locked in over the final three quarters, combining to go 21-36 (58.3 percent) during that stint.
Following the game Coach Kevin Baker noted, “We’ll take this win. This (stretch) has been tough on the kids but they’ve kept fighting, they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They’re making better decisions, taking better shots and making more shots obviously. I was proud of how we gutted out the second half. I’m just proud of them and their resiliency. They’re learning how to fight and they’re learning how to play better basketball."
The 44 points allowed were the fewest by a Miners' opponent this season. The team also had 10 steals, outscored FAU 44-14 in the paint, won the boards 39-29, and went 16-19 from the free throw line. The Miners will conclude their Florida road swing at FIU in Miami on Saturday at 12 pm MST on 600 ESPN El Paso. FAU, FIU and UTSA sit in a three-way tie for 12th place at 1-9 in the league, but the Miners now have wins over both UTSA and FAU on the season. The top-12 finishes in league play will qualify for the 2019 C-USA Championships.