HONOLULU, Hawai’i – Boise State’s Derrick Alston scored a game-high 23 points, leading the Broncos (8-5) past UTEP (9-4), 72-67, on Christmas Day at the the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in the Stan Sheriff Center.
Daryl Edwards, who led the Miners with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, converted a layup in the paint that got the Miners within two points (67-65) with 54 seconds remaining in the game.
On the following possession with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, Alston got in front of his defender and hit a baseline jumper in the paint off a pass from Justinian Jessup underneath the basket with 25 seconds remaining in the contest coming out of a timeout and essentially clinching the victory.
“I told my guys today that the scrappiest team today, the team that wanted to get this done today with the 50-50 balls was going to come out today with a win. We gave [Boise State] some special situations around the basket that hurt us today,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But I’ll give my guys credit. We battled throughout the game.”
Souley Boum (11 points), Kaden Archie (11 points) and Jordan Lathon (10 points) each hit double figures, while Anthony Tarke came off the bench with another solid outing. Tarke led the Miners with eight rebounds, including three offensive and chipped in with five points. Bryson Williams was held in check with six points, while Efe Odigie added six points and Eric Vila four points with five rebounds.
Alston proved too much for the Miners as the 6-9 guard added six assists and nine rebounds. Abu Kigab tallied 11 points and Robin Jorch recorded 10 points. Jessup dished out five assists, to go along with seven points.
“Alston is a hard guy to deal with,” Terry said. “He’s a long and athletic guard who’s very active. He can drive the ball and he’s a guy who can put the ball in the basket. He’s an all-league player.”
With the Miners down four points (34-30), Edwards pulled up and hit trey that led to seven consecutive points. Tarke added a fast break layup and Lathon threw down a dunk at the 17:40 mark that gave UTEP a 37-34 advantage.
However, the Broncos answered that run with an 8-0 run. Boise State built a nine-point lead (51-42) with 12:32 remaining in the contest behind seven points and a pair of assists from Alton.
But the relentless Miners stormed back to get within a point after going on a 13-5 run. Lathon started it by draining a three-point basket, while an Edwards’s layup got the Miners within four points (51-47). After a pair of Alston free throws, Williams connected on a jumper outside the paint, and Vila converted a layup in the paint to make the score 53-51. Jessup answered with a three-pointer, but Boum nailed one of his own, was fouled in the process, and sent the free throw into the hoop to make the count 56-55 with 7:40 remaining.
After Boise State built its lead back to five points (62-57), back-to-back buckets by Williams and Edwards made it another one-point (62-61) advantage with just over four minutes left in the game.
Though the Miners got within two points on a pair of occasions with under a minute to play, Boise State kept making key shots down the stretch, while a late turnover on a bad pass hurt UTEP.
The Miners were outrebounded 41-30, as Boise State crashed the glass with 13 offensive rebounds. The Broncos scored 17 second-chance points, and outscored the Miners in the paint, 44 points to 32.
UTEP will open Conference USA play at FIU on Jan. 2 with tipoff set for 10 a.m. MT in Miami. Fla. The Miners will then battle Florida Atlantic on Jan. 4 in Boca Raton, with tipoff set for 2 p.m. MT. Both contests can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action. Both contests will also be streamed on ESPN+.