Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez
In the latest edition of the Battle of I-10 the UTEP Miners Men’s Basketball Team came out on the losing end losing to the New Mexico State Aggies by the score of 72-69 Friday night at the Don Haskins Center.
With the win the Aggies have swept the series for this basketball season in this heated and storied rivalry.
The game winning shot was taken by Jabari Rice, a three pointer from the top of the key with 1.6 seconds left in the game to give the Aggies their sixth win of the season. The game was projected to be a close one as is any rivalry game, this one came down the wire giving the 6,300 fans in attendance quite the thrill.
It was a game where the Miners fought back on more than a couple of occasions to tie game and take the lead, unfortunately easy points in the paint for the Aggies in the closing minutes were key in the victory for New Mexico State.
Here’s what happened
- The game got off to a quick start with both teams scoring a bucket in each of their first shots. The Aggies wasted no time in taking the lead by going on a 9-0 scoring run that lasted close to five minutes to make the score 13-5 with 14:57 left in the first half.
- The remainder of the first half was highlighted by NMSU receiving a technical foul (a bench technical) and the Miners regaining the lead with 3:08 left in the half, 27-26. The last three minutes of the half turned into a back and forth battle before the Aggies took a 32-30 lead into the locker room as halftime came.
- The Miners would jump out to a 41-36 lead in the first six and half minutes of the second half. A significant part of that effort was led by Jamari Sibley who went 3 for 4 in the early part of the second half.
- Tydus Verhoeven came back into the game with 8:33 left in the game. He had left the game early in the second half due to back spasms. Verhoeven proceeded to foul out with a little more than 7 minutes to go in the game.
- The Aggies took a 59-52 lead with 5:30 left in the game, part of a 14-3 run that the Aggies went on. UTEP tied the game with 3:05 left in the game as Jamal Bieniemy hit a couple of baskets consecutively. One from 3-point range and a jump shot.
- Jabari Rice hit the game winning three with 1.6 seconds left in the game for the Aggies from the top of the key.
What was said
After the game a dejected Souley Boum and Jamari Sibley spoke with the media. Both were of the same disposition alluding that their defensive effort could have been better and that could have been the difference in this game.
Boum said, “We played hard, we did everything possible to keep ourselves in the game. Credit to my teammates they fought, fought and fought. It’s a really tough way to go out and lose like that.
Sibley, who had 18 points and seven rebounds said the following regarding the atmosphere at the Don Haskins Center, “The was my first big college game with fans. Last year at Georgetown, because of COVID, it wasn’t like that. The energy in the arena was definitely amplified.”
For UTEP head coach Joe Golding, the difference in the game was UTEP’s inability to get stops and crucial parts of the game. Golding said, “I think they scored like on nine straight possessions in the second half. Obviously we pride ourselves on defense but we couldn’t get a stop…we didn’t execute.”
Golding added, “Credit to them, they have a veteran team and they executed late in the game and got good looks. I’m proud of our guys, we fought and dug ourselves out of a couple of holes, we executed the game for the most part.”
Up next for the UTEP will be a couple of road games next week. On Tuesday they will face the Kansas Jayhawks and Sunday they will go up I-35 to visit the New Mexico Lobos in the Pit in Albuquerque. Two tough road games for the Miners to say the least.
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.”