Women’s basketball wins second straight on California road trip

Jeremy Carranco, Sports Editor

Najala Howell set a career-high with 23 points while Tamara Seda notched her second straight double-double (21 points, 14 rebounds) to help the UTEP women’s basketball team defeat UC Riverside 73-62 on the road Saturday night.

The Miners (9-4) had a 20-point lead at the half and led by 17 with six minutes to play before the Highlanders (3-11) scored the next 12 points in the game to cut the margin down to five (67-62).

UTEP was able to keep their composure while regaining momentum for good on a triple by Howell to help fuel a game-closing 6-0 run. Faith Cook, who finished with seven points and six assists, set up both field goals down the stretch.

The Miners connected on 43.9 percent (29-66) from the floor, aided by drilling 20-36 during the impressive opening half. UTEP dished out a season-high 20 assists while finishing with a season-low 14 turnovers for the second time in as many nights.

Zuzanna Puc joined Howell and Seda in double figures for scoring with a campaign-high 15 points in 25 minutes of action off the pine.

It was an impressive win, considering that less than 24 hours ago UTEP outlasted Cal State Fullerton, 92-91, in double overtime. The effort allows the Miners to cap non-conference play at 9-4 on the season, which already surpasses the entire win total (8-23) from last season.

UCR was led by a 21-point, nine-rebound effort by Michelle Curry.

“I think that being in this situation last night really helped us tonight,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “Again we gritted our teeth and figured out a way to win. I’m proud of the team. It was a great road trip for us.”

UTEP will open Conference USA play at FIU on Friday, Jan 5.