Keitha Adams has been asking her team for more improved defense, she got her wish tonight as UTEP rolled past Marshall 77-50, in one of the best defensive performances since the opening of conference play.
UTEP got down in a stance, forcing 22 Marshall turnovers, which lead to 24 UTEP points off turnovers, and their third straight win.
Irene Gari had a special night.
After knocking down back-to-back triples, she gave UTEP an early 24-12 in the first half, apart of an 11-2 run that gave UTEP a double digit lead that would stand the rest of the way.
Gari finished with a season high 18 points on a red-hot 6/9 from the field to lead the Miners who shot 45.2 percent from field as a team. She did all her work off the bench, and was a perfect 4 out of 4 from the free throw line.
UTEP took a 41-29 lead into the halftime break, then out scored Marshall 18-7 in the first ten minutes of the second half, capped off by a jumper by Kristine Vitola to give UTEP a 59-36 lead at the 10:38 mark of the second frame.
The largest lead was 35 at the 3:28 mark, Marshall finished the game out on a 8-0 but this one was never in question.
Using nine three-pointers, and 19 second chance points, UTEP now improves to 16-4 overall, and 5-2 in C-USA play after a very complete victory.
Kayla Thornton did a little bit of everything, scoring 15 points, with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. She was an efficient 6/7 from the field in another solid performance by the Miners senior leader.
Vitola added 14 points, Stacie Telles had a point guard's dream game with 7 assists, and zero turnovers in 24 minutes of action.
Bench points were huge for the Miners, where most have came from Jenzel Nash this season, but she was sat down for disciplinary reasons according to Keitha Adams. Her return for Saturday is in question.
A key for UTEP was their ability to guard relentlessly off the ball, which did not allow Marshall to get in any type of rhythm on offense, parlaying into a 28.6 shooting percentage for the Herd who were lead by 16 points from Suporia Dickens.
Next up is a trip to Big Easy for a date with Tulane, Saturday at 12 PM MT. You can catch Mark Brunner on 1150 AM El Paso for the call.