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El Paso, TX — Kayla Thornton posted her fifth double-double this season (16 points, 10 rebounds) to lead a quartet of players in double figures, and UTEP remained undefeated on the year with a 87-65 conquest of Southeastern Louisiana at the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon.
The Miners (9-0) led by two (14-12) six minutes in before kicking it into high gear with a 24-3 run to blow the game wide open. The advantage was 19 at the break (45-26), and despite the Lion Lions’ (1-9) best efforts, the visitors could not get back into the contest.
The effort improves UTEP to 9-0, which is one shy of the 2011-12 squad for longest winning streak to start the year. It is also the eighth double-digit victory on the campaign, the most to this point in season in program history.
“It was good to play everyone and good to get the win,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “It’s a good win and we now have to get ready to face a very good Georgia Tech team in Puerto Rico.”
Cameasha Turner recorded a career-high 14 points to buoy Thornton, with Jenzel Nash (14 points) and Kristine Vitola (season-high 13 points) also hitting double digits. The Miners connected on 48.7 (37-of-76) shots from the floor, and showed good ball movement with 19 assists.
The home side’s depth was also a major factor, with a 32-7 cushion in points from the bench. UTEP also enjoyed advantages in points in the paint (56-32), points off turnovers (30-21), fast-break points (19-4) and points off turnovers (30-21).
SLU had a slow shooting start (11-of-34, 32.4) in the first half before making almost 50 percent after the break to finish at a respectable 40.0 percent (26-of-65) from the floor. It was done in, though, by 25 turnovers, with UTEP’s patented pressure defense proving to be too much.
Thornton and Chrishauna Parker played big roles in that department with five steals each while Nash came up with four thefts. Parker also added eight points in five boards on a crisp 4-of-shooting from the floor.
Thornton’s stat line is even more impressive considering she played just 18 minutes in the game, with Adams mixing up combinations when it was clear the Miners had things under control. It was also an encouraging contest for Vitola, who drilled 6-of-8 shots on the way to the aforementioned season high.
Transfer Agata Dobrowolska also made an impact, establishing career highs for points (five), rebounds (five) and minutes (15).
The top four players for the Lady Lions all reached double figures in scoring (Elizabeth Styles-14, Aja Gibson-13, Nanna Pool-12 and Annessa De La Cruz- 11) while Symone Miller pitched in eight. No other SLU player scored more than four points, though, and the lack of depth allowed UTEP to keep the visitors at bay most of the tilt.
The Miners will head to tropical San Juan, Puerto Rico, to complete in the Puerto Rico Classic this week. UTEP will lock up with ACC power Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. MST Friday before battling Belmont at 12:30 p.m. MST Saturday.
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