Souley Boum scored a game-high 25 points and Daryl Edwards followed with 22 points as the pair led UTEP past Rice, 77-72, on Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse in the regular-season finale.
“I’m excited for my guys, the way my guys are playing,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “They have really bought into details. It’s hard when you face someone a second time, a third time for Rice, they had to be locked into the details.”
UTEP (17-14, 8-10 C-USA) secured the no. 11 seed and will take on no. 6-seed Marshall in the first round of the Air Force Reserve Conference USA Championships on Wednesday, March 11.
The Miners (17-14, 8-10 C-USA) and Thundering Herd (16-15, 10-8 C-USA) will tipoff at 8 p.m. MT/9 CT in the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
The contest can be heard on UTEP’s flagship station 600 ESPN El Paso and will be streamed on ESPN+.
The winner of that game will face no. 3 LA Tech (22-8, 13-5 C-USA) on March 12 as tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MT/9 CT. The contest will be streamed on Stadium on Facebook.
The Miners won their fourth straight league game for the first time since the 2016-17 season, while winning their second consecutive road game for the first time in three seasons. UTEP has also advanced to post-season play since playing at the C-USA Tourney two years ago.
Rice shot 9-for-35 (25.7 percent) threes, while the Miners blocked six shots and forced seven second-half turnovers.
“We’re just getting started right now. It was all about the defensive matchups, we knew they were going to small-ball, we had to defend the three-point line,” Terry said.
UTEP controlled the majority of the contest, though Rice scored the first two points for an early lead. UTEP answered that with a 9-0 run and never looked back. UTEP built the lead to seven points multiple times, but Rice kept chipping away to get within a possession. One of those times was when the Owls made the count 35-33 after a pair of Chris Mullins free throws. However, Edwards hit a three during a 13-1 run to go up 48-34 at the 12:47 mark. Boum scored six points, while Edwards tallied seven points during the run.
In fact, Boum and Edwards combined for 146 points in UTEP’s three victories over Rice. The Miners outscored Rice, 217-198.
UTEP outscored Rice on fast break points, 16-3, while the Miners outrebounded the Owls, 42-38. The Miners tallied 12 offensive boards, led by Tydus Verhoeven’s six.
Verhoeven tallied eight rebounds, with four points, including a dunk that put the Miners up nine points with 42 seconds remaining in regulation. He added an assist and blocked shot to his stat line.
Boum shot 6-for-15 from the field, and went 10-for-11 from the foul line, playing all 40 minutes. Edwards shot 9-of-19 from the field, while the pair made six of UTEP’s three-point buckets. Edwards also tallied two dimes and a pair of steals.
Williams tied his career high in steals (three) and blocked shots (three), while leading the way with nine rebounds. He added nine points and an assist.
Jordan Lathon led the Miners with five assists, to go along with six points, six rebounds and a blocked shot.
Terry received solid production from his bench as Kaden Archie played over 26 minutes and recorded a career-high eight rebounds. His two points came off an offensive rebound that put his squad up 12 points with 9:36 remaining in the game. Archie tallied a blocked shot, assist and a steal.
Deon Stroud played just under 15 minutes off the bench, tallying nine points. Stroud hit a pair of threes during the first half on his first two attempts, while coming up with a three-point play during the 11:04 mark in second half that put the Miners up 14 points.
- UTEP last won back-to-back road games during the 2016-17 season. The Miners won at Florida Atlantic on Feb. 23, 2017 and at FIU on Feb. 25 as part of a four-game road winning streak. UTEP started the win streak with wins at North Texas on Feb. 16 and at Rice on Feb. 18.
- UTEP’s four-game winning streak in league play is the first since that run in 2016-17 when it won five-consecutive games. The winning streak started with a victory over Southern Miss on Feb. 11 in the Haskins Center, followed by the four games won on the road.
- Edwards has gone for 22 or more points in four straight games. It’s the longest run of 20 or more points since Randy Culpepper scored 31 points on Jan. 2, 29 on Jan. 5, 34 at UAB and 26 at Tulane.