Souley Boum registered a double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Bryson Williams led all scorers with 28 points, leading UTEP to an 82-74 victory against LA Tech on Friday night in front of 533 fans at the Haskins Center.
UTEP (7-6, 3-4 Conference USA) halted a three-game losing streak, while snapping LA Tech’s (11-5, 4-3 C-USA) three-game winning streak. The Miners and Bulldogs will tipoff at 6 p.m. in the rematch on Saturday night.
Boum ripped down a career-high 12 rebounds, while dishing out four assists and tallying two steals. Keonte Kennedy filled the stat sheet with 13 points, five rebounds, a steal and a career-best six assists. Jamal Bieniemy also recorded six dimes with seven rebounds and five points.
“All week, our guys had a great attitude and positive energy,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We won this game for what you did during the week. I thought our guys came out and really good competitive practices and I thought they pushed each other really well.”
UTEP controlled the tempo and never trailed in the ball game. The Miners jumped out to a 14-point lead (31-17) after a Tydus Verhoeven layup at the 9:15 mark. However, the Bulldogs climbed back into the game, cutting the lead to 38-34 at the 2:37 mark.
But UTEP came up with a trio of big plays to end the first half to pull away from the Bulldogs.
With the score 40-34, Kristian Sjolund converted a four-point play at the 1:46 mark, followed by a Kennedy three-point play that extended the lead to 47-36 at the 1:09 mark. Boum then hit a three-point shot with :08 left in the half and propelling the Miners a 50-38 lead at the half.
Verhoeven tallied four points, two assists and a blocked shot, while Sjolund added seven points off the bench.
The Miners shot just under 50 percent from the floor, going 29-of-59, while totaling 20 assists and only turning the ball over eight times. UTEP also shot 10-of-26 from downtown and 14-of-21 from the foul line.
The UTEP defense held its own, yielding LA Tech to shoot 31.7 percent from the field. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Miners, 48-34, including 18 offensive boards.
“We did a good job defensively,” Terry said “We held [LA Tech] to under 40 percent shooting. But it was a good complete-team win, and everyone came in, contributed and did everything we asked them to do.”
LA Tech Freshman Kenneth Lofton Jr. led with 20 points and tallied a game-high 13 rebounds. Jacolby Pemberton followed with 15 points and seven boards.
Up next, UTEP will host LA Tech at 6 p.m. on Saturday night in the Haskins Center. The Miners and Bulldogs can be heard on the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso and on the UTEP Miners app with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action.
The contest will also be streamed on ESPN+ with Erik Elken doing play-by-play and Leonard Owens providing analysis.
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post