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El Paso, TX — UTEP forced 34 turnovers and held Big 12 member Kansas State to 26.3 percent shooting from the floor in a 84-39 shellacking at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon. The 45-point differential is the second-biggest margin of victory against a Division 1 opponent in school history, which was aided by the program’s biggest halftime lead (46-13) vs. a D1 foe.
UTEP is off to a 3-0 start for a third straight year, and it has claimed four consecutive contests against teams from power conferences. Additionally, it is 14-1 in the month of November since the start of the 2011-12 season.
Five different Miners (3-0) reached double figures in scoring, with senior Kayla Thornton leading the way with her school-record 23rd career double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). The prior standard was 22, held by Amy Pack (1999-01).
Sophomores Irene Gari and Cameasha Turner and senior Kristine Vitola each buoyed Thornton with 12 points while Stacie Telles added 10 points. Jenzel Nash pitched in eight off the bench while Kelli Willingham and Sparkle Taylor netted five a piece.
UTEP drilled 35-of-47 from the free-throw line and also won the rebounding battle, 54-43.
But the day belonged to the defense, with UTEP recording its eighth-highest single-game sum in steals (20). Sophomore Chrishauna Parker, who posted a game-high 12 boards, recorded the sixth-best sum (seven) by a Miner in school history.
“Those guys were really ready to play,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Their heart was in it. The intensity level. They were all pretty fired up to play. It wasn’t what I did. They were very motivated.”
The Miners set the tone for the game early on, with a 13-0 surge over the first six minutes. The two sides traded baskets in the next couple possessions, and it was a 17-4 Miner lead with 11:17 to play in the period. The Orange and Blue were just getting warmed up, though, ripping off 18 straight points to secure a 31-point lead (35-4) with 7:27 to play in the period.
Adams’ charges registered five steals in the sequence, which demoralized the youth-laden visitors.
UTEP cruised into the locker room with the aforementioned 33-point lead, and it put it on cruise control over the final 20 minutes.
It was a 40+ point lead for the final six minutes of the game, with Adams emptying her bench in the unlikeliest of scenarios given the caliber of program that KSU has.
UTEP will continue its season-opening six-game homestand when it plays host to Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. MST Friday.
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