El Paso, TEXAS - Sophomore Irene Gari came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points, and UTEP thundered past Marshall, 77-50, at the Don Haskins Center Wednesday evening.
The Miners, who (16-4, 5-2 C-USA) never trailed against the Thundering Herd (7-12, 0-6 C-USA), controlled all facets of the game en route to pushing their winning streak to three. The Orange and Blue drilled 45.2 percent (28-of-62) from the floor, aided by 21 assists on 28 field goals. Stacie Telles ran the offense well with a career-high seven assists, but more importantly no turnovers, in 20 minutes of action.
It was a different story for the visitors, who were held to 28.6 percent (16-of-56), while committing 22 turnovers that led to 24 UTEP points. The Miners also won the rebounding battle (40-38), in addition to enjoying advantages in points in the paint (26-12), second-chance points (19-5) and bench scoring (31-18).
Gari was extremely efficient on offense, making 6-of-9 from the floor, including 2-of-5 from three-point range, while also connecting on all four free throw attempts. She had plenty of help, though. Senior Kayla Thornton posted her 11th double-double (15 points, 11 boards) on the season while Kristine Vitola continued her strong play of late with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Cameasha Turner pitched in five points, all during an early run to start the game, while Kelli Willingham contributed seven. Overall nine different Miners scored in the contest, with head coach Keitha Adams doing a good job of emptying her bench and trying different combinations.
UTEP jumped out to a 5-0 lead, with a triple from Turner followed by a putback by Thornton. Marshall, which was led in scoring by Suporia Dickens' 16 points, answered with five straight points to force the first of two ties in the tilt.
The Thundering Herd continued to battle, and UTEP's lead was just three (13-10) before the Miners started to pick things up. The result was an 11-2 run to make it 24-12 with 10:46 left in the half, and Marshall could never get closer than seven the rest of the way out.
The advantage was 12 at the half (41-29), and any aspirations of a comeback by the Thundering Herd were quickly dashed in the second stanza. The Miners outscored Marshall, 18-7, over the first 10 minutes of the stanza, with a jumper by Vitola capping the sequence.
The visitors were unable to get closer than 20 the rest of the way, with UTEP extending its advantage out to as many as 35 (77-42, 3:28 left). Marshall closed the game on an 8-0 run, but it was far too little too late.
UTEP will return to action when it plays at Tulane at 12 p.m. MST Saturday.