File: Matt Willms
Davon Hayes scored a career-high 19 points, leading Southeastern Louisiana to a 72-56 win at UTEP on Wednesday.
The Lions (4-1), playing without leading scorer Jordan Capps for a third straight game, turned in a dominating effort as they shot 48.3 percent from the field and outrebounded the Miners 47-33.
After scoring 80+ points in each of the first three games, UTEP (2-3) struggled offensively for the second straight contest. The Miners shot less than 35 percent in both halves and finished at 33.3 percent for the night.
“We basically were manhandled by Southeastern Louisiana tonight,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They shot a better percentage, they made seven more field goals than we did and they outboarded us by 14. I thought they were quicker to the ball. I thought their guard play was better than our guard play. I thought they were more physical in the interior than we were.”
The Miners tallied the game’s first seven points. After that Southeastern Louisiana outscored UTEP 72-49.
UTEP fell behind 16-9, but rallied to tie the game at 23 on a three-pointer by Trey Touchet with 8:25 remaining in the half. Southeastern Louisiana ended the period with a 19-4 run.
UTEP got the deficit under 10 just once in the second half, 49-40 when Matt Willms dunked with 14:47 left. The Lions responded with seven consecutive points for a commanding 16-point lead.
“We were very, very soft in terms of finishing around the rim,” Floyd said. “Point blank shots, we counted six in the first seven minutes of the ballgame where we were right at the rim and no finish. And we had no juice back to the board after the misses.”
Omega Harris scored 13 points, Matt Willms 12 and Dominic Artis 11 to lead the Miners. They were a combined 15-for-38 from the field.
Freshmen Deon Barrett and Kelvin Jones made their first career starts, and Floyd in particular raved about the play of the 6-11 center from Chihuahua.
“I would say the one bright spot for us would be Kelvin Jones,” Floyd said. “I feel that he’s going to be a player at some point. His instincts are where he’s got to grow. He hasn’t played a lot of basketball. He’s learning. You can see the athleticism, see the strength and see his will. He’s still not in great condition. He’s still working at it.”
After the game Floyd said he didn’t know if or when Terry Winn would be returning to the team, and expressed concern about Willms’ foot.
“He had his shoe off at halftime in the locker room and didn’t play with the same burst and speed that he did this weekend over in Charleston,” Floyd said. “I’m a little concerned and worried about him just trying to play through whatever he is dealing with. But he was not the same guy that he was this weekend.”
Marlain Veal tallied 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Southeastern Louisiana, and Dominic Nelson had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“We knew that they were a better team than their name,” Floyd said. “We tried to stress that going into the game. I thought we got off to a good start there for four minutes with the two bigs [Willms and Jones]. We went to our bench and the game changed and we never were really right from that point on. We weren’t good from the foul line, we really weren’t good in any area offensively. We’ve got a lot of challenges in front of us.”
There will be plenty of time to focus on improvement. The Miners will take a nine-day break between games before hosting Northwestern State on Dec. 3.
“I think [the break] is very important. We desperately need that,” Floyd said. “They look like a better basketball team than us and they were, as far as I’m concerned, in all areas. Their guys look like they should’ve been wearing Miner uniforms. We’ve got some time to work and we’ll continue to try to work, to see if we can get better.”