BOCA RATON – Efe Odigie buried a three-point bucket with 4:36 remaining in the contest, putting UTEP up by seven points; but Miner miscues down the stretch extended their road-losing streak as Florida Atlantic (10-4, 2-0 Conference USA) rallied past UTEP (9-6, 0-2 C-USA), 59-56, on Saturday afternoon at RoofClaim.com Arena.
Bryson Williams recorded his second career double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), while Odigie tied for the team lead with 13 points – all in the second half.
Odigie added five boards and a blocked shot. Nigel Hawkins scored all 10 of his points during the first half and Kaden Archie, who made his first start of the season, tallied nine points.
There were six lead changes, while the score was tied 11 times during the back-and-forth contest. However, the Miners turned the ball over 19 times to FAU’s 11. The Owls recorded eight steals that led to 18 points off turnovers.
The Miners took a 53-46 leads off Odigie’s second three-pointer of the season that fired up the bench. But Karlis Silins answered with a three of his own that started a 13-3 run in the final minutes after a turnover by Hawkins at the 3:19 mark.
Odigie drew a foul and made one-of-two free throws to make the count 54-49, but another Silins three-pointer got the Owls within two points. After another UTEP turnover, this time by Williams, Cornelius Taylor tied the game on a layup with 1:19 left.
Archie gave his squad a 56-54 lead after draining a pair of free throws with 41 seconds remaining in the ball game.
The Owls took the go-ahead lead off Madiaw Niang’s and-1, while Richardson Maitre made two free throws to essentially seal the win.
The Miners had a look with seconds remaining, as Williams missed a three-point attempt. Daryl Edwards pulled down the offensive board, but the time expired before Hawkins threw up a desperate three-pointer.
In the first half, Miners fell by as many as eight points (24-16) with 5:45 left in the half. Hawkins started a 15-4 run with a made jumper. With UTEP down 26-22, Hawkins buried a pair of free throws, while Edwards tied the game with a layup off the glass with 2:55 left. Hawkins then gave his squad a 28-26 advantage after driving the to the hoop and making an acrobatic layup.
With the game tied, Archie nailed a three-point bucket with 26 seconds remaining, giving UTEP a 31-28 lead going into the locker room.
UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry wasn’t on the sideline for the second consecutive game. He’s set to return on Thursday.
Up next, UTEP will return to the Haskins Center to host Southern Miss on Jan. 9 and LA Tech on Jan. 11. Both contests are slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
The games can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and Steven Yellen also calling the action.