Lee Moore – UTEP
BOCA RATON, FLA. – Lee Moore scored 17 points to lead a season-high six UTEP players in double figures as the Miners held off a late Florida Atlantic rally and beat the Owls, 89-82 on Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla.
UTEP (15-11, 7-6 C-USA) won its fourth straight game, swept its Sunshine State tour and moved over .500 in Conference USA play for the first time since early January.
Dominic Artis had another near triple-double for the Miners with 13 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Omega Harris and Earvin Morris scored 14 points apiece, Hooper Vint had 13 and Terry Winn had 11.
“We’re pleased to get the win,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We are better in three areas than we were a week ago on the road. Not turning it over more than our opponents, which had been a problem area on the road. We outrebounded our opponent, which had been a problem area on the road. And free throw attempts had been a problem area on the road. We handled those three areas much better.”
The Miners committed 13 turnovers to the Owls’ 16 and outscored FAU (7-19, 5-8 C-USA) 27-13 in points off turnovers. UTEP outrebounded FAU 38-31 behind Artis and Winn, who snared eight boards. And the Miners finished 20-for-27 at the charity stripe, while the Owls were 14-for-17.
After scoring the first 15 points in the initial matchup between the teams on Jan. 21, the Miners bolted to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes on Saturday. Morris hit two three-pointers right out of the gate and scored 14 points (four triples) in the first half before exiting with foul trouble. Morris did his first-half damage in only nine minutes.
Florida Atlantic cut the deficit to two (14-12) on a three-pointer by Jeantal Cylla but the Miners answered with a 10-1 run to go up 24-13. Vint came off the bench to score six points during that stretch.
UTEP enjoyed three separate 17-point leads in the first half – the last at 47-30 on a Harris layup with 2:24 on the clock.
Florida Atlantic scored the last four points of the first half and the first three of the second half to pull within 10 (47-37). The Miners scored the next five points to push it to 15 (52-37).
UTEP took its biggest lead of the game at 75-57 on a layup by Moore with 9:29 remaining. Moore scored seven consecutive points for the Miners from the 10:08 mark of the second half to 8:22.
UTEP led 85-73 with four minutes remaining, but the Owls had one last run in them. They scored nine consecutive points – including seven from Solomon Poole – to cut the lead to three (85-82) with 2:32 to play.
Florida Atlantic had two opportunities to draw closer but Marquan Botley missed a three-pointer and Poole turned it over on the next possession. Trey Touchet made two free throws with 11 seconds remaining and, after Botley missed a layup, Harris made two foul shots to account for the final score.
“We got really solid play from a lot of guys offensively,” Floyd said. “We let the game get away from us and lost our poise defensively late. But I’m pleased that we were able to finish the game against a team that has been much improved since we saw them earlier in the year.”
Adonis Filer led FAU with 18 points. Cylla and Botley scored 16 and 15 respectively.
The Miners shot 50 percent (51.6) for the fourth time in five games and made 5-of-10 three-point attempts. UTEP has scored 80+ points 11 times this season, including in four consecutive games.
The Miners will return home to face Southern Miss (Thursday, 7:05 p.m.) and LA Tech (Saturday, 4 p.m.) as they look to continue their march up the C-USA standings. Thursday is Motown Night, and Saturday is the annual Noche Latina game.