Photo by Ruben R Ramirez - El Paso Herald Post

Miners cruise in season opener defeating Western New Mexico 85-57

The Joe Golding era began with a victory on Tuesday night as the UTEP Miners Mens’s Basketball team picked up its first win of the 2021-2022 basketball season, defeating Western New Mexico University Mustangs by the score of 85-57. 

The Miners scored on their very first offensive possession of the season after a defensive rebound by Christian Agnew, a two point basket was scored by Bonke Maring and the Miners proceeded to go about their gameplan.

That gameplan proved to be more than enough as UTEP pulled away in the second half, giving the 6,751 fans in attendance at the Don Haskins Center their first experience of Miners basketball under Golding.

This was the largest crowd for a season opener in six years.  

Here’s what happened

  • The starting five for the Miners today were Tydus Verhoeven, Christian Agnew, Keonte Kennedy, Bonke Maring and Jamal Bieniemy.


  • UTEP controlled the first half as there were only two lead changes in the opening 20 minutes of the game and led for all but :52 seconds. At one point they had a 16 point scoring run and led by as many as 24 points with a little more than six minutes to go in the half.


  • The Miners took a 36-26 lead at the half. Guard Jamal Bieniemy led the Miners in scoring with 16 points. A total of 11 players for the Miners saw action in the first half. 


  • In the second half the Miners took complete control and closed out the game, leading by as many 29 points. Despite the big lead, things remained competitive and heated as the Mustangs’ Tony Avalos was ejected with 8:05 left in the game.


  • Jamal Bieniemy would end up one point shy of his career best for a game with 23 points and tied his career best for three points with five.   

What was said

After the game, Bieniemy and Kennedy addressed the media and revealed what the themes for the night were as far as execution went. Play defense, play hard and aggressive. 

Kennedy said, “That’s the key to every game. We want to play aggressive on both ends of the floor and deny them passing lanes and that’s what we did tonight.”

As for areas of improvement despite a 28 point margin of victory, Bieniemy said, “…loose balls. We left a lot of loose balls out there that we could have dove on. (We could have) gotten 50/50 balls, that will be important in close games.”

Kennedy added by saying, “…we have to box out on both ends. We have to get and not allow offensive rebounds”

Head coach Joe Golding was in agreement in what these two players said they needed improvement on. Golding commented, “We got to rebound the basketball better, we struggled with that in both halves and got out rebounded by them, give them credit for that.”

The Miners’ head coach added to his team’s self critique by saying, “I didn’t like our turnovers. We had 10 in the first half. I think I looked up in the eight minute mark of the second half and we only had one turnover, then we finished the last eight minutes with seven turnovers.”

As for their next game against their biggest rivals the New Mexico State Aggies Golding commented, “It’s gonna be exciting….we’re still a working progress so we’re gonna go there and compete, give our guys the best chance to win and I know this, weather we win or lose when we get back on that bus we’ll be a better team. I’m looking forward to the challenge and going over there and competing.” 

Up Next

The Miners will travel to NMSU to face the Aggies on Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST. 

Author: Joe Rodriguez  | Photos by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post

Rodriguez is a life long El Pasoan. Joe has covered sports locally across the Borderland since 2007 for various media outlet both in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez as a personal passion as he is a professional in the world of healthcare (Physiatry). His favorite sports include soccer, auto racing, golf and horse racing.”

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