File: Bryson Williams recorded his second career double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) | Photo by Ruben R Ramirez
Diamond Head Classic host Hawai’i rallied to beat UTEP 67-63 in the first round match up at the annual holiday tournament.
“We had opportunities and there were times when we had the game the way we wanted it and going in the direction we wanted it,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We were up nine, but then had unforced turnovers that you can’t have and gave [Hawai’i] momentum, especially at their home.”
UTEP’s Bryson Williams tied his career high with 33 points for the Miners, adding to the Miners’ talley were Daryl Edwards with 12 points and 10 points from Souley Boum.
Williams not only tied his career high, but the redshirt junior scored his most points against a Division I opponent. He shot 13-of-26 from the field, while hitting a trio of three pointers and going a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe.
The Miners led by as many as nine points (42-33) and eight points (51-43) at the 10:21 mark after Boum connected on a bucket in the paint. The Rainbow Warriors answered with a 7-0 run to get within a point, but Williams ended that run with an outside jumper.
Another Williams’s clutch outside jumper put UTEP up 58-54 with 4:18 left in the game. But Hawai’i, which answered any UTEP run, scored four consecutive points to tie the ball game at 58 with 3:16 to go.
Williams gave UTEP the lead again on a pair of free throws and Samuta Avea answered by making 2-of-3 free-throw attempts after being fouled on three-point attempt.
With the contest tied 60-60, Boum missed a three pointer and Bernardo Da Silva’s layup gave the Rainbow Warriors the lead for good.
With Hawai’i up four points, Williams connected on his third trey to get the Miners within a point (64-63), but Buggs answered with a pair of made free throws after being intentionally fouled. A costly turnover with 16 seconds left handed the game over to Hawai’i. Buggs was intentionally fouled again and made a free throw to make the count 67-63.
The Miners only turned the ball over five times in the first half, but ended the ball game with 17 total turnovers, including four with just over eight minutes remaining in the ball game.
The Miners led by as many as seven points in the first half, and closed out the period on a 6-0 run to take a 37-31 lead into the locker room. The Miners’ run started with a Williams layup, followed by a Hawai’i turnover in which Williams was credited with a steal. Williams was fouled on the possession as Mate Colina was called for a technical. Williams answered with a pair of made free throws to make the count 35-31. Vila hit a pair of free throws that gave UTEP the six-point lead.
Da Silva led UH with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting off the bench (23 minutes) and Avea tallied 16 points. Buggs led UH with eight assists, while Raimo Zigmars dished out six.
Hawai’i outrebounded UTEP, 34-30, while each team registered eight steals.
UTEP’s Monday opponent, Ball State, fell to no. 22 Washington, 85-64, in the earlier contest. Tahjai Teague (14.2 ppg), Ishmael El-Amin (14.2 ppg) and Kyle Mallers (11.4 ppg) average double figures, while Teague leads the Cardinals in rebounds per game (8.2). Ball State recently won at Georgia Tech by 18 points (65-47) on Dec. 18 and beat up on IUPUI, 102-54, on Dec. 7.
Against the Huskies, Teague led the way with 20 points on 8-15 shooting and El-Amin chipped in with 13 points. Ball State hung with the no. 22-ranked team in the country, as the Cardinals were down 52-49 at the 15:27 mark. But the Huskies were too much down the stretch.
The Miners (8-3) will take on Ball State (6-5) on Monday night in the consolation round. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. Hawaii Time/11:30 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on ESPNU, while “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher will call the action on 600 ESPN El Paso.