UTEP freshman Deon Stroud scored a team-high 14 points as the Miners (3-0) used a late run to defeat Eastern New Mexico, 71-57, on Friday night in the Don Haskins Center. The Miners are 3-0 for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Stroud, who shot 5-of-8 from the field, energized the Miner faithful when he threw down a dunk with great extension with just over two minutes left in the ball game.
“[Deon Stroud] is a young player and is still learning what it takes to compete at this level day-in-and-day-out,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “He’s learning and he really wants to be good. He’s buying into the things we ask him to do, especially from the defensive standpoint. His attitude has been good and we wanted to give him an opportunity on the floor tonight.”
But it was Isaiah “Juice” Rhyanes who brought the house down. The local product from Andress High School saw his first collegiate action and scored the final two points of the ball game on an emphatic throw down that brought the announced crowd of 4,476 to their feet.
“Nicknamed ‘Juice’, the guys call him ‘Juice’, he’s probably one of the best kids you’ll ever have to coach in your career,” Terry said. “He’s a team favorite, and he’s one of those guys who will do anything for the team. You want to get him into the game at some point and I really wanted to get him in the game tonight. For him to get the opportunity to score a basket and a dunk on top of that, it was a great way to cap the game off tonight.”
Friday’s victory wasn’t easy by any means however as the Greyhounds got within eight points (49-41) at the 10:01 mark. The game could have been closer, but Devin Pullum missed a layup after a steal. The Miners then used an 11-4 run to go up 60-45 with 5:14 left in the contest.
“I think it’s good for us to play in those types of situations. [ENMU Head Coach] Tres [Segler] does a great job there and he had a lot of energy when he was with us at Texas,” Terry said. “He’s carried that over into his coaching career and his teams play extremely hard.”
Last season, the Miners slipped past Segler’s squad by seven points.
With just over a minute left in the game, Terry subbed in a few of his bench players as Juice, Jules Williamson, Anieus Medrano, and Ountae Campbell saw action.
Campbell dished out an assist to Juice under the basket, who scored his first collegiate points.
Eastern New Mexico kept the first half interesting as it led 12-9 after a Deng Kuany jumper in the paint at the 12:45 mark. Williams connected on a three pointer to tie the game, while Efe Odigie gave the Miners the go-ahead lead at 14-12.
The Miners broke the half open when Stroud connected on his first collegiate three-point bucket and then followed with his second three, giving the squad a 36-17 advantage. After being down three points, the Miners outscored the Greyhounds, 29-10, to close the half and take a 38-22 lead into the locker room.
Bryson Williams tallied 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while slamming down three of UTEP’s six dunks. Jordan Lathon added nine points (4-4 FT), while tying for the team lead with four assists. Souley Boum also recorded four dimes, while chipping in with 11 points.
Anthony Tarke saw 11 minutes of action (nine in the first half) and tied for the team lead with six rebounds. He added two points and a blocked shot. Odigie also grabbed six boards, while scoring six points. Tydus Verhoeven scored four points – two of them on a dunk, blocked a shot and snagged three boards.
Nigel Hawkins tallied three rebounds, two assists and a steal, while Daryl Edwards scored four points and dished out three assists. Eric Vila went 2-of-3 from downtown, scoring six points, while recording five points and an assist.
No Miner played over 30 minutes as Edwards led the way with 29 minutes of action. Terry also used nine players off the bench as it scored 29 points.
UTEP outrebound ENMU, 46-23, while scoring 36 points in the paint. The Miners dished out 16 assists, while forcing 14 turnovers.
For the Greyhounds, Isaiah Murphy led with 14 points, while Yosnier Cobas tallied 11 points.
Up next, UTEP will host rival New Mexico November 19. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center as the themed event is “Noche Latina”.
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post