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The UTEP women’s basketball team pushed its winning streak to three with a 71-34 dismantling of Eastern New Mexico at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon. The Miners (8-1), who never trailed in the contest, led the Division II Zias (0-7) by 25 at the break (43-18) and were up by at least 30 for the final six minutes of action.
UTEP received contributions across the board offensively, with all 10 players who saw action scoring. Freshman Irene Gari keyed the charge by reaching double figures (14 points) for the second straight game while sophomore Chrishauna Parker added 11.
Kayla Thornton had nine and Anete Steinberga, Kelli Willingham and Saidah Zuberi Allen all chipped in eight. The biggest roar on the day, though, came when sophomore walk-on and El Paso native Marissa Rodriguez drilled a three and later a short two to set her career high for points at five.
The Miners connected on 47.6 percent of their shots from the floor (30-of-63), including 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from three-point range. UTEP was especially sharp in the opening period with an effort of 57.6 percent (19-of-33).
The effort improves UTEP to 6-0 at home this year and 88-18 in El Paso since the start of the 2006-07 campaign.
“It was a good team win,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We set some goals at halftime and accomplished them. It’s a big week ahead with finals before preparing for Kansas State.”
ENMU could not get into any sort of rhythm on offense, with the Miners’ size presenting all sorts of problems. The Zias were held to 22.9 percent (11-of-48) from the floor while also being harassed into 18 turnovers. Alexa Candelaria tallied 10 points to lead the visitors.
Another factor in the game was UTEP’s dominance on the boards. The Miners out-rebounded the visitors by a count of 49-24. UTEP grabbed 21 offensive boards, which led to 19 second-chances points.
It was a complete team effort on the boards with Thornton pulling down 11 but seven other Miners had at least four rebounds. Syerra Davis, Saidah Zuberi Allen and Parker all had six while Gari secured five and Steinberga and Destinee LaFountain provided four.
ENMU, which had only one player taller than 6-0, also had issues in defending the paint. UTEP enjoyed a 32-8 advantage in the paint while also using its athleticism to have a 14-0 cushion on fast-break points.
The game featured a couple of early ties before the Orange and Blue broke it wide open. UTEP used a 29-5 run to secure a 34-10 lead with 9:02 to play in the first half. Included in the surge were both an 11-0- and 13-0 run.
The Zias continued to play hard but never truly threatened from that point on.
UTEP will be idle for the upcoming week due to finals before returning to action at Big 12 member Kansas State at 12 p.m. MST Dec. 16.
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