FILE:, Andres Acosta | El Paso Herald-Post
RUSTON, La. – UTEP freshman Efe Odigie recorded his 10th career double-double after scoring 16 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, but LA Tech’s Daquan Bracey scored a game-high 28 points as his Bulldogs (16-10, 6-7 Conference USA) defeated the Miners (8-16, 3-10 C-USA), 71-57, on Thursday night in Thomas Assembly Center.
“[LA Tech] hit a couple of big shots and we had opportunities as well that we didn’t take advantage of down the stretch,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But I give them credit with those big shots.”
With 3:58 remaining in the contest, Odigie made a jumper to get the Miners within three points (56-53).
But the Bulldogs put the game away after they answered with back-to-back three-point buckets by Jacolby Pemerton and Amorie Archibald with 2:41 left and a 62-53 lead.
UTEP took an early seven-point lead in the first half, but could never regain the lead after the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run to take a 16-11 advantage.
Jordan Lathon chipped in with 10 points and Kobe Magee tallied nine points on a trio of treys, while leading the Miners with six assists. Kaosi Ezeagu, who made his second consecutive start, contributed with four points and six rebounds. Odigie shot 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe.
LA Tech took a 37-30 lead coming out of the tunnel off a Daquan Bracey bucket. But the Miners fought back to tie the contest at 37-37. Kaosi Ezeagu threw down a dunk, while Lathon hit a jumper and Magee a three.
After LA Tech took a 43-38 lead, Nigel Hawkins connected on his first bucket of the game, a three pointer at the 14:25 mark to get his squad within three points (43-41).
LA Tech would build its biggest lead (50-42), but Odigie ended a 5-0 run on a jumper in the paint off an assist by Hawkins. Lathon then stole the ball on the Bulldogs’ next possession, passed the ball to Hawkins, who almost threw down a thunderous dunk but did draw the foul. Hawkins made both free throws to make the count 50-46 with just over 10 minutes in regulation.
UTEP jumped out to an 11-4 lead after back-to-back threes from Thomas and Magee 16 minutes into the first period. The Miners started by making their first trio of three-point attempts. Lathon connected on the first one for the contest’s first points.
The Bulldogs, however, would answer with 12-0 run. UTEP would tie the game on a trio of occasions. Odigie made the score 23-23 after a bucket in the paint (5:41), Lathon hit his second trey of the half to make the count 28-28 (2:19) and Odigie tied the game again (30-30) on a layup with 1:35 remaining.
The Bulldogs scored the next five points, led by Bracey’s three points to take a 35-30 halftime lead.
LA Tech shot 4-of-11 from the free-throw line, while UTEP was a perfect 3-for-3. The Bulldogs, despite the struggles at the line, shot 56.0 percent (14-25) from the field to the Miners’ 36.7 percent.
Up next, UTEP will travel to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss on Saturday. The Miners and Golden Eagles are set to tipoff at 1 p.m. MT/2 CT in Reed Green Coliseum. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.