Anete Steinberga scored a season-high 23 points, Kayla Thornton added 17 and Chrishauna Parker posted a double-double to help UTEP soar past Sam Houston State, 85-66, at the Don Haskins Center Friday evening.
The Bearkats (3-8) actually led 5-0 early but the Miners (11-1) made that a distant memory with a 23-8 run to rip control of the contest. UTEP cruised into halftime up by 19 (44-25) and put it on cruise control down the stretch on the way to notching its 40th victory in the past 45 games.
The effort improves the home side to 11-1 on the season, equaling the 2006-07 squad for best record through 12 games in program history. That team surged out at 14-1 before finishing at 22-8 to secure the first 20-win season at the school.
The Miners also move to 8-0 at home on the year, and are 90-18 in El Paso since 06-07. Additionally, the Orange and Blue have claimed 23 of their past 25 contests in El Paso.
“It was a very good win for us,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Sam Houston State plays hard, and they made us earn it.
Parker tallied 15 points while grabbing a career-best 14 rebounds to post her third double-double since joining the Orange and Blue last year. She also dished out a personal-best-tying seven assists to lead an unselfish yet effective Miners’ attack.
UTEP registered 19 helpers on 31 field-goals made while connecting on 42.5 percent (31-of-73) from the floor. It took great care of the basketball with six turnovers, which tie as the fourth fewest in a single game in program history.
The visitors were held to 33.0 percent (21-of-63), including 30.0 percent (6-of-20) from three-point range. Britni Martin tallied a game-best 25 points but no one else had more than 11.
The Miners pounded the Bearkats on the boards, 51-38, while outscoring them by a count of 38-24 in the paint. Saidah Zuberi Allen got after it in that area with a career-best 11 boards (prior high six) while also chipping in six points in 22 minutes of action.
Freshman Irene Gari continued her strong play of late with eight points and three rebounds while Kelli Willingham tallied 10 points and had five assists.
SHSU used a three pointer and a couple of free throws early to snag the aforementioned 5-0 lead but UTEP regrouped.
The Miners scored nine of the next 14 points in the game to forge the first tie (9-9). After the two sides traded buckets, UTEP ripped off 10 straight points to take a lead (23-13) it would never relinquish.
The Bearkats halted the surge with a free throw but UTEP continued to pour it on. The Miners held the 19-point cushion on the break, and SHSU was unable to get any closer than 13 down the stretch.
UTEP will wrap up non-conference play when it challenges UTPA at 2:05 p.m. MST Sunday. Admission will be free to all fans.