Souley Boum and Efe Odigie each dropped 15 point as UTEP cruised to a 70-47 victory over Charlotte on Saturday in front of 499 fans in the Haskins Center.
The Miners (11-10, 7-8 Conference USA) extended their winning streak to three games after limiting the 49ers (9-12, 5-8 C-USA) to 33.3 percent shooting, and extending their losing streak to five games.
“I thought our guys came out and really set the tone early to start the ball game,” said third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry. “Charlotte has two of the premier players in the league in Sheperd and Young. Both of those guys are good players and we knew we’d have our hands full with their perimeter game. I thought we did a good job following the scouting report and staying between our man and the basket. We did a great job converting once we forced those turnovers in transition.”
UTEP limited its turnovers to only five – its third lowest total this season – while forcing 17. The Miners outscored the 49ers 24-0 on points off turnovers.
Odigie, who saw his first action since Jan. 15 at North Texas, tallied a season high in points on 6-for-10 shooting from the floor in 20 minutes of action off the bench. Odigie added four rebounds and a steal. Boum hit a trio of threes and made a pair from the foul line to extend his streak of 15 consecutive made free throws. Boum also added five rebounds and three assists to his stat line. Tydus Verhoeven shot 5-for-6 from the field, chipping in with 10 points, three boards, a steal, assist and blocked shot.
After Charlotte took a four-point lead early in the first, the Miners dominated the remainder of the half with smothering defense and tallied seven steals in the process.
Charlotte led 13-9 lead after a Jahmir Young dunk at the 15:20 mark. The Miners answered with a 9-0 run of their own to take an 18-13 advantage and never looked back. The 49ers’ cut the deficit to six points (24-18) at the 7:44 mark, but it was their last bucket of the half. The UTEP defense held them scoreless for the remainder of the half, and took a 35-18 halftime lead into the locker room.
The defensive effort carried over into the second half as Charlotte got its first points at the 18:10 mark on a pair of made free throws by Young. UTEP led by as many as 35 points at the 7:38 mark of the second period.
Jamal Bieniemy (five points) led UTEP with five dimes, while Christian Agnew (seven points) led with six rebounds. Bryson Williams added nine points with four rebounds and a season-high three assists. Keonte Kennedy, who threw down a pair of dunks, scored six points with five rebounds and two assists. Vuk Vulikic hit a 3-pointer on his only attempt, playing over 11 minutes off the bench.
Kristian Sjolund recorded two boards and a career-high two assists. Gilles Dekoninck tallied two rebounds in over six minutes off the bench, while Adam Hess, Ze’Rik Onyema and Cam Clardy also saw playing time.
Young led Charlotte with 12 points, while Caleb Stone-Carrawell scored 10. Sheperd tallied nine points, seven boards and a team-high four assists. Brice Williams led the 49ers with eight rebounds.
Next up, UTEP will conclude C-USA action when it hosts Charlotte on “Senior Day” Sunday. The Miners and 49ers are slated for a 1 p.m. tip time. Bryson Williams and Eric Vila will be honored prior to tipoff in the Haskins Center. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+ and fans can tune into the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners app to listen to the action.
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post