UTEP file photo by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – El Paso Herald Post
HOUSTON – Bryson Williams tied a game high with 17 points and Souley Boum chipped in with 13, but Caleb Mills’s and Nate Hinton’s 17 points apiece led Houston to a 77-57 victory over UTEP on Thursday night at the Fertitta Center.
“That was a big play. We battled our way back and put ourselves into position down the stretch to try to win the ball game,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “You can’t taunt and get in the face of an opponent. It was the right call and you can’t get caught up in talking. You got to play the game. It didn’t cost us the game, but it was a costly play in the game.”
The Miners (8-2), after being down by as many as 14 points early in the second half, got within five points (54-49) after a Boum driving layup at the 7:50 mark. But the Cougars (7-3) answered with a 16-0 run to put the game away after Boum was called for a technical foul following the bucket.
The Cougars hit the glass hard, outrebounding the Miners 49-34 – with 16 of those being offensive rebounds. The tough UH defense also came up with 11 blocked shots.
Nigel Hawkins, a Houston product, scored nine points and led the Miners with five assists. Efe Odigie (four points), another native of Houston, tied for the team lead with seven rebounds, while Williams matched that number on the boards.
Houston opened up a 6-0 lead as UTEP struggled to find offense early in the contest. Williams put his squad on the board with a three-point basket, while Hawkins tied the game (6-6) with a trey at the 14:01 mark. After Mills answered with a three of his own, Jordan Lathon tied the game at 9-9 with the Miners’ third trey at the 13:29 mark.
After the back-and-forth three-point fest, the Cougars went on a 14-0 run to gain a 23-9 lead with 9:50 remaining in the period. The Miners fought their way back, getting within three points (28-25) at the 3:03 mark.
UTEP’s 16-5 run started with a Boum steal and fast break layup. Williams converted an alley-oop dunk off a Hawkins’s assist to make the count 25-13. After a DeJon Jarreau made free throw and a Chris Harris Jr. second-chance layup, Williams hit another trey and followed with a two-point basket to get the Miners within 10 points (28-18). His five consecutive points started a 9-0 run that was followed by a Hawkins three-point play.
With the score 28-21 and momentum going UTEP’s way, Boum scored four consecutive points on a pair of buckets in the paint to make the count, 28-25.
But the Miners couldn’t get any closer as Houston finished out the half on a 9-2 run and putting UTEP down 37-27 heading into the locker room.
Hinton produced a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds, while Brison Gresham also registerd a double-double, scoring 10 points and leading UH with 12 boards. Jarreau dished out a game-high nine assists, while scoring seven points.
Edwards scored six points on a pair of three pointers, while Deon Stroud came off the bench and tallied five points.
The Miners have lost 15 consecutive road games after Thursday’s setback. Their last road win came on March 3, 2018 at North Texas.
Up next, UTEP will travel to Honolulu, Hawai’i to compete in the Diamond Head Classic Dec. 22-25. The Miners, who are searching for that elusive road win, will open the holiday tournament against host school Hawai’i (7-3) on Sunday, Dec. 22.