Stifling defense leads Women’s basketball to season opener win

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Stifling defense leads Women’s basketball to season opener win

Carolina Alvarez

Carolina Alvarez

Carolina Alvarez

Isaiah Ramirez, Reporter

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The UTEP women’s basketball team (1-0) provided tough defensive pressure all night forcing UC Riverside (1-2) to 28 turnovers en route to a 6350 win in the Miner’s season opener.  

Behind an aggressive full court press the Miners held the Highlander’s to 14 points in the first half and 26 percent from the field. UC Riverside committed 18 turnovers in the first half. 

“ I just think with the depth that we have that we have the ability to press for 40 minutes and that doesn’t mean that every game this year that we’re going to press but we are going to do things that cause problems in the full court or half court,” head coach Kevin Baker said. 

Coming off two solid performances in their exhibition games that momentum carried over into this season opener against UC Riverside.  

Senior guard/forward Katarina Zec led the Miners in points with 18 shooting a perfect 100 percent (4-4) from three-point land. Zec is now one three-pointer away from tying former miner Ana Valtierra becoming ninth all-time in career three-pointers made (97) in program history.  

“I’ve been shooting the ball a lot after practice and before practice and this was just my teammates finding me and I like to shoot from inside out and that’s what we practice,” Zec said.  

Junior forward Michelle Pruitt provided a strong force on the boards finishing with a team high 10 for the night and was just two points short off a double-double with eight.  

The Miners were outrebounded against the Highlanders (40-35) and won for just the fourth time in the Kevin Baker era (4-17) when they did not outrebound their opponent. 

UTEP did not trail against the Highlanders all night and had its largest lead was 21 with 3:43 remaining in the second quarter.  

Freshman guard Katia Gallegos  finished with a solid all-around performance with nine points, four rebounds, and five assists. Gallegos did not commit a turnover and her five assists was a team and game high.  

“It’s just the talk between all of us and everyone was locked in and it’s easy for me to give them the ball and pass it around,” Gallegos said. 

Besides the constant defensive pressure, the Miners hustle and grit was evident with constant charges being taken and players diving on the court for steals. 

“I think it’s just the mark of what our team is about, they’re fighters’ man and they’re going to fight for every loose ball take every charge,” Baker said. “We’re going to fight for everything that’s who we are and that’s what we are going to be about this year.” 

UTEP is now 3-0 in season openers under Baker. 

UC Riverside was held to 1-of-13 from the three and the Highlanders did not knock down their first three-pointer until the end of the fourth quarter. 

The Miners take on New Mexico State at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  

 

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