It seemed like the perfect opening exhibition match up for Keitha Adams and her new group of Miners.
The minutes were distributed evenly, giving plenty game of experience to the newcomers while UTEP controlled the glass, and also got production from a major returning piece, and won by double digits.
After a competitive first quarter, UTEP outscored St Mary’s 16-7 in the second quarter to create some separation and a 37-25 lead going into the halftime break.
St. Mary’s scored the first six points of the third quarter to cut the lead in half (39-33) but the Orange and Blue peeled off eight straight to put away the Rattlers for good. St. Mary’s never got closer than 14 the rest of the way, with the margin swelling to as many as 22 (65-43) at one point.
“It was not a bad first outing,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We have a lot of young players and lot to learn. We had some moments where we did some good things that we’ve been working on in practice and then we obviously have some areas that we really need to work on. A lot of our new, young players were a little bit nervous for their first big outing under the lights, but I like our kids. We just have to settle in and as they get more comfortable we’ll be better.”
Sparkle Taylor led the way with 18 points, while sophomore Najala Howell added 11 points off the bench.
14 Miners earned at least seven minutes of action, but Taylor (24 minutes) and junior-college transfer Axelle Bernard (20 minutes) were the only players to have 20+ minutes.
It was also a balanced scoring attack with Seda (eight points) and freshmen Roeshonda Patterson (eight points) and Jakeira Ford (seven points) buoying the efforts of Taylor and Howell. The same could be said of the boards, with Ford securing seven rebounds while junior-college transfer Chanel Khammarath and Taylor each grabbed six.
UTEP crushed the Rattlers on the glass (55-35), but did shoot only 39.1 percent from the field on the night.
The Miners will now turn their focus toward final preparations before officially tipping off the season when they play host to Northern Arizona at 7:05 p.m. MST Nov. 11. That game will be the first of three straight at home for the Miners, who will also face Texas Southern (2 p.m. MST, Nov. 13) and Western New Mexico (7:05 p.m., MST, Nov. 17).
—-Mark Brunner also contributed to this article