CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Braxton Ogbueze scored seven of his game-high 24 points during a decisive 19-4 run in the second half, as Charlotte rallied for an 88-78 victory over UTEP on Saturday at Halton Arena.
The 49ers (8-8, 12-17 C-USA) won for the sixth time in their last seven home games. UTEP (17-13, 9-8 C-USA) was dealt its second straight defeat following six consecutive victories.
The Miners set a school record for first-half field goal percentage in the first half, when they made 21-of-28 shots (75 percent). But they only led 47-40 at the break. In the second half, UTEP cooled off to 33.3 percent from the field and was outscored 48-31.
UTEP had no answer for Charlotte defensively. The 49ers continued their torrid offensive tear, shooting 48.4 percent from the field (55.2 percent in the second half) while making 10-of-23 three-pointers and 18-of-20 free throws.
“I thought we were in trouble at halftime when we were shooting 75 percent and we were only up seven,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We had a real inability to stay between our guy and the basket tonight. And it didn’t matter what defense we were in. We tried them all. None of them really applied.”
The Miners led for most of the first half. They took their largest lead of 10 points (61-51) with 14:58remaining on two free throws by Lee Moore.
Charlotte’s Andrien White, who scored 22 points, followed with a three-pointer and a dunk to slice the deficit in half (61-56) before being helped to the locker room with an injury.
The 19-4 run continued without him as Ogbueze’s three-pointer with 9:53 to go gave Charlotte its first lead (66-63) since it was 28-27 in the first half.
Omega Harris’ layup made it a one-point game (66-65), but the 49ers countered with the next four points. Moore’s jumper drew UTEP within three (70-67) with about eight minutes left, but Ogbueze nailed a three with 7:10 to play and the Miners couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the night.
Joseph Uchebo had 15 points and 10 rebounds on “Senior Day” for Charlotte, and Curran Scott scored 12 off the bench.
“The frustrating thing is you game plan hard, you try to prepare, you try to guard actions but there’s no need to guard the actions because we’re just getting driven by at every spot,” Floyd said. “I’m really disappointed in the defensive effort. We have to regroup. We took a step back here today.”
The Miners will close out the regular season at home against UTSA next Saturday (March 5) at 2 p.m. Besides “Senior Day” for Tevin Caldwell, Victor Mbachu, Earvin Morris and Hooper Vint, it will be “Fan Appreciation Day” with all seats in the copper section reduced from $18 to $12. UTEP’s lowest ticket price remains $8.
“We’ve got UTSA at home next Saturday and we’ll hope to come out and play with a more collective good effort from all of our guys defensively,” Floyd said. “But we didn’t have one guy on our group that could stay between anybody and the basket tonight, and that was the real difference in the game.”
Author: UTEP Athletics