Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
Bryson Williams (23 points, 14 rebounds) recorded a double-double on a career high in rebounds, and Souley Boum dropped 23 points on a career-high six 3-pointers, leading UTEP past Charlotte 77-62 on Sunday “Senior Day” in front of 481 fans in the Haskins Center.
“We had seven turnovers in the first half, and we’d been one of the better team in the league taking care of the basketball, and really one of the best teams in the country,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “[Charlotte] has eight points off those turnovers and that was the biggest reason why we didn’t have as much separation. I thought the defense was solid in the first half, but it was the turnovers that was leaving points for those guys that we didn’t need to give up. We came out in the second half and did a much better job taking care of the basketball. We came out with really good energy and great activity.”
The Miners (12-10, 8-8 Conference USA) extended their winning streak to four games after shooting 50.0 percent (10-20) from downtown, while the 49ers (9-13, 5-9 C-USA) have dropped six in a row. Overall, UTEP shot 50.8 percent and outworked Charlotte on the boards, 36-28, that included 10 offensive rebounds.
Williams, the lone senior to play, notched his fourth double-double of the season, the ninth of his UTEP career, and 13th in his collegiate career. Williams was efficient, shooting 11-for-17 from the field, and hitting a 3-point bucket in the process.
Boum shot 8-for-14 from the floor and went 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. Boum also tied Keonte Kenney (nine points), Tydus Verhoeven (six rebounds) and Christian Agnew (two points) for the team lead with three assists. The Miners totaled 15 dimes on the day.
Efe Odigie came off the bench and put up double figures in scoring for the second straight night. Odigie tallied 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting with five rebounds in over 16 minutes of action.
UTEP never trailed in the contest, and led by as much as 32 points. A night after allowing a season-low 47 points, the Miners’ defense stepped up again, only allowing 62 points. Since allowing 86 points at UTSA on Jan. 28, UTEP is yielding just over 60 points per game in its last seven contests.
Similar to Saturday night, the 49ers hung around for most of the first half. Jahmir Young tied the ball game at 25 after making a pair of free throws. However, UTEP answered with a 6-0 run to go up 31-25, and took a 37-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
It was the second half where UTEP took the game over. The Miners opened the period on a 14-1 run that ended on an Odigie bucket to make it a 20-point ball game (51-31). At one point, UTEP used a 14-0 run that ballooned the lead to 32 points (65-33) at the 9:29 mark.
After its seven miscues in the first half, UTEP only turned the ball over three times in the second.
Kristian Sjolund hit 2-of-2 3-pointers, finishing with six points and a rebound. Ze’Rik Onyema almost ripped down the backboard with a thunderous dunk late in the ball game.
Brice Williams led the 49ers with 15 points and seven boards, while Young tallied 12 points. Jordan Sheperd dished out seven assists to lead Charlotte. Charlotte shot 40.8 percent from the floor and a dismal 4-of-15 3-pointers.
Up next, UTEP will finish out the regular season at no. 17 Kansas on March 4. The Miners and Jayhawks are slated for a 6 p.m. MT tipoff, while the contest can be heard on the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso, and will be streamed on ESPN+.
The Miners will then head to Frisco, Texas, for the 2021 C-USA Championships. Their seeding will be determined at the conclusion of league play for teams making up games next week.
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post