El Paso, TX — UTEP jumped out to a 25-point (45-20) halftime lead and didn’t let up on the way to recording its largest margin of victory (49) ever against a Division 1 team in a 92-43 thrashing of Northern Arizona at the Don Haskins Center Friday evening.
The Miners are 4-0 for a third straight year, aided by back-to-back wins of at least 45 points for the first time in school history. Overall the average margin of victory is 36 points, with the closest call to date being a 17-point triumph against Division II member UTPB (75-58) in the season opener on Nov. 8.
UTEP harassed the Lumberjacks (0-2) into making 29 turnovers while also holding them to 32.0 percent shooting from the floor. The 29 giveaways led to 31 points for the Orange and Blue.
There were no such problems on offense for the home side, which registered 20 assists while hitting 50 percent (32-of-64) of its shots from the floor. Transfer Anete Kirsteine came off the bench to tally a career high 15 points- all on triples- to lead a quartet of Miners in double figures for scoring. Senior Kayla Thornton and sophomore Irene Gari each netted 12 points while senior Kristine Vitola pitched in 10.
Overall 11 different players scored in the game, showing off the Orange and Blue’s depth in the process.
The Miners, who are now 55-14 since the start of 2011-12, also won the rebounding battle (38-36) in addition to draining the seventh-most three pointers (11) in a contest in program annals.
“We had a very solid week of practice which led to a very solid game,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We were able to play our young players, our newcomers, and that will be very good for us down the road. It was a great team win.”
UTEP took control early, out-scoring the visitors 17-4 over the first five minutes of the game. Thornton tallied eight of the points in the sequence, which set the tone for the night. NAU, which was led by 11 points from Amanda Frost, scored the next six points to reduce the deficit to single digits (17-10, 13:09) but it was short lived.
Adams’ charges quickly reinstated the double-digit lead, finishing the period on a 28-10 surge to cruise into the locker room up by 25.
The Lumberjacks scored the first two points of the second half, but UTEP countered with a 15-2 run. The advantage was at least 30 during the last 16 minutes, and it swelled to 40+ points for the final 9:52.
UTEP will play host to Northern Colorado at 7:05 p.m. MST Wednesday. Tickets are just $ 5 for adults, with all kids getting in free with the purchase of an adult ticket.