SAN ANTONIO – UTEP erased a 16-point first-half deficit, and eventually took a two-point lead early in the second half, but Jhivvan Jackson poured in 32 points and Keaton Wallace had 19 with nine assists that surged UTSA to an 86-79 victory on Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
The Miners (7-8) slip to 3-6 in Conference USA play, while the Roadrunners UTSA (8-8) have won three straight games to improve to 4-6 in league play. UTEP shot over 40 percent (26-64), but only 26.3 percent (5-19) from beyond the arc. UTSA hit 50.8 percent (30-59) overall and connected on 43.5 percent (10-23) three-pointers.
“We didn’t do a good job stopping [UTSA] in the first half,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “In the second half we took control of the game and we were winning at one point as well. But when it comes down to it, we had a couple really good looks, but Jackson and those guys made some really big plays; made some shots.”
Bryson Williams led the way with his third double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds). Williams stroked a career-best 14 free throws on 15 attempts, also a career high. Souley Boum matched his total with 24 points, and Keonte Kennedy recorded his second career double-double on a career-high 13 boards and 10 points.
Tydus Verhoeven registered six points and six rebounds.
The Roadrunners took a 31-15 lead at the 7:08 mark after a made jumper by Wallace. However, the Miners battled back and cut the lead to eight points (46-38) at the half, while opening the second half on a 15-5 run over a five-minute span.
Williams tallied six points, including the bucket that gave the Miners a 53-51 lead at the 14:16 mark. Jamal Bieniemy added five of his seven points during the run, and Boum scored four points.
But UTSA got hot from the field and built a 14-point lead with 6:35 left to play.
“We came out [of the locker room] and put it on our defense and we put consecutive stops together and won that first four minutes of the second half and really got after it,” Terry said. “We had wide-open looks, we just didn’t make them. Again, you give [UTSA] credit, they hit a couple of their shots.”
UTEP outrebounded UTSA, 37-35, and 14-9 on the offensive side. The Miners recorded season highs on made free throws (22) and free throws attempts (28). UTEP only turned the ball over eight times, but only registered eight assists.
Up next, UTEP will host UTSA on Saturday, January 30. The Miners and Roadrunners will tipoff at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center and can be heard on the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher behind the mic.
The contest will be streamed on ESPN+ with Erik Elken calling play-by-play and Leonard Owens providing analysis.