SAN ANTONIO – UTEP used a 17-2 run after being down 23 points to get within six. However, UTSA wouldn’t allow another historic rally as the Roadrunners (9-10, 3-3 Conference USA) defeated the Miners (11-8, 2-4 C-USA), 86-70, on Saturday afternoon in the Convocation Center.
Bryson Williams led the way with 21 points (9-17 field goals) and seven rebounds, while Souley Boum tallied 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line. Daryl Edwards recorded a career-high five assists to lead the Miners.
The loss dropped UTEP to 0-6 on the road with two more road contests coming up next week at Rice and North Texas.
UTSA’s one-two punch of Jhivvan Jackson (23 points) and Keaton Wallace (21) combined for 44 points, while Atem Bior chipped in with a career-high 13 points.
“We let them go early in transition. We can’t let a team like that get transition baskets like that to start the game,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We didn’t have the urgency to get back and get stops when we needed them on defense.”
The Roadrunners shot 48.3 percent overall, including a scorching 63.3 (19-30) in the first half. The Miners shot 37.7 percent from the field and 18.8 from the three-point line (6-32). UTSA outhustled UTEP on the boards, 47-32.
UTEP, down 62-39, fought back as it did on Wednesday night and went on an 17-2 run to get back within six points (64-58) with 7:25 left in the contest. Deon Stroud came off the bench and provided a spark when threw down a thunderous one-handed slam on a fast break to cut the deficit to single-digits (64-56). Williams then followed by drawing a foul under the basket and hit both free throws to get within six points.
However, UTSA answered that with a 10-2 spurt to take a 74-60 lead after a Wallace jumper at the 3:50 mark.
UTSA took another big lead into the locker room as it ended the first half by hitting its last five field goals, while UTEP finished the period 1-of-7 from the field.
After falling behind by 10 points (26-16) at the 9:29 mark, the Miners used an 8-0 run to get within two points (26-24). Boum started the run with a made free throw, while Edwards followed with a three-point bucket. Williams converted a second-chance basket and Tydus Verhoeven ended the run with a hard-two-handed dunk.
But UTSA ended the run with a Bior three-pointer that banked off the glass. The Roadrunners outscored the Miners, 22-7, to take a 17-point lead into the locker room.
Efe Odigie played multiple minutes off the bench during the second-half run, and overall put up solid numbers scoring six points and tallying five boards. Kaden Archie hit two treys down the stretch, scoring six points. Eric Vila, who played major minutes on Wednesday night, made his first start in four games. Vila scored UTEP’s first four points on a three-pointer and free throw, but was shut down the remainder of the contest.
Up next, UTEP will continue its road swing with contests at Rice (Jan. 23) and North Texas (Jan. 25). The Miners and Owls will tipoff at 6 p.m. MT, while the Mean Green contest will start at 4 p.m. MT.
Both contests can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action, while both games will be streamed on ESPN+.