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Heartbreak! Miners Fall In 3OT At FIU 88-87

MIAMI, Fla.- Senior Sparkle Taylor drilled a jumper with about three seconds remaining in triple overtime to put UTEP up, 87-85, but FIU’s Kristian Hudson’s desperation heave from about 35 feet went as time expired to sink the Miners, 88-87, in the first 3OT game in program history at Lime Court at FIU Arena Thursday evening.

Taylor paced the Miners (4-12, 1-3 C-USA) with her fourth straight 20+ point effort (21)-the longest such streak at the school in nine years– but the Panthers (4-11, 2-2 C-USA) pulled out a miraculous win thanks to Hudson (35 points) and company.

“We looked like we were in the driver’s seat at the end but they hit the big shot,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “I feel really bad for the team because they played really hard. We just have to hang in there and stick together. It was a great game and a crazy one. A lot of things can happen out there. I’m proud of our players.”

Tamara Seda (14 points, 13 rebounds), Najala Howell (19 points), Katarina Zec (10 points), Lulu McKinney (nine points, nine assists) and Zuzanna Puc (eight points, six boards) all made quality contributions to buoy Taylor.

The game featured 15 lead changes and 13 ties, with the Miners playing from ahead for 40 of the 55 minutes. UTEP’s biggest advantage was 13 (56-43, 1:00 3Q) but the feisty FIU squad refused to quit. The Panthers put together a 13-1 run to trim the UTEP cushion to one (57-56, 2:334Q) before a jumper by Taylor and McKinney’s steal and score seemingly reinstated order.

The home side had other ideas, tallying back-to-back scores to get within one. McKinney split two free throws with 11 seconds left only to have FIU get a lay-up from Janka Hegedus (10 points) to send it to OT. The Panthers carried that momentum into the first extra session, with Tianah Alvarado (21 points) nailing a triple to put her side up, 65-62.

McKinney (two free throws) and a Seda lay-up reinstated the Miners’ lead (66-65) but Alexis Gordon (15 points) nailed a trey. After UTEP misfired at the other end, Hudson was fouled. She split the pair to put the Miners down three again (69-66) before Howell took over. The sophomore splashed home a step-back triple to beat the shot clock before converting on a lay-up off a steal. FIU tied it with free throws from Hudson. The Miners pulled ahead by two twice, but both times FIU had an answer, to force double OT.

In the second OT FIU raced out to a four-point lead (79-75), its largest advantage of the tilt, before the Miners scored the next four points at the free-throw line. Defense dominated the rest of the stanza, sending the game to a third-and as it turned out-final OT.

UTEP struck first thanks to Taylor before a Gordon triple. Jumpers by Taylor and Howell put the Miners up three (85-82) but Gordon came through again with a clutch trey. The score remained tied, 85-85, until Taylor’s shot silenced the crowd. Unfortunately for the Orange and Blue faithful it was short-lived, with Hudson somehow managing to sink the game-winning triple.

UTEP will wrap up its stay in the “Sunshine State,” by playing at Florida Atlantic 3 p.m. MST/5 p.m. EST Saturday. Tim Hagerty will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso.

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Panthers maul depleted Miners 52-12; Kugler ‘I apologize to all the Miner fans’

MIAMI, FLA. – Autrey Golden became UTEP’s all-time leader for kickoff return yards, but the depleted Miners fell at FIU, 52-12, on Saturday afternoon.
File photo: Autrey Golden
File photo: Autrey Golden

Golden registered five returns for 92 yards, giving him 2,758 in his career to surpass Cedric Johnson (2,757 yards).

Alex McGough completed 13-of-17 passes for 270 yards for the Panthers (3-3, 1-1 C-USA), who improved to 2-0 at home this season.  UTEP (2-4, 0-2 C-USA) dropped its C-USA road opener for the seventh consecutive year.
“Beyond tough,” UTEP coach Sean Kugler said.  “We lost a few more guys.  I can’t say enough.  We’re a beat-up team.  As the head coach, I’ve got to do a good job of keeping these guys together and trying to field a competitive team and keep them fighting.  That’s on me.”
The Panthers scored the game’s first 35 points, as McGough completed 10-of-12 passes for 182 yards.  He threw a 43-yard TD pass to Thomas Owens and connected with Jonnu Smith for a 14-yard score.  FIU added scoring runs from Alex Gardner (two yards) and Anthon Samuel (18 yards), and a 31-yard interception by Jeremiah McKinnon during the sequence.
The Miners got on the board with 7:53 remaining in the second quarter when Jay Mattox kicked a 20-yard field goal.  That completed a nine-play, 73-yard drive that saw UTEP convert its second and third first downs of the game.
The Miners had four first downs and 134 yards at halftime, and an already decimated running backs corps lost LaQuintus Dowell and Treyvon Hughes to injury.  UTEP was down 42-3 at the break.
UTEP scored its first touchdown midway through the third quarter behind freshman quarterback Kavika Johnson, who saw his most extensive action of the season.  Johnson completed four passes on the drive, the last to Cole Freytag who dashed 23 yards into the end zone.  Freytag had a career-high 81 yards on two catches.
Starting quarterback Ryan Metz was ineffective for the second straight game, completing 2-of-4 passes for 10 yards before Johnson got his chance.
“Ryan had a pick-six and the offense stalled at that point,” Kugler said.  “We just needed a spark right before halftime.  We put in Kavika.  He gave us a little spark down the field.  He continued to give us a spark in the second half.”
Johnson was 10-of-20 passing for 107 yards.
The Miners registered their second safety of the season in the fourth quarter when the Panthers’ Anthony Jones was tackled in the end zone.
Kugler pledged a re-commitment to the ground game a week after attempting 50 passes versus UTSA, and the Miners enjoyed moderate success running the football.  They gained 155 yards on 47 attempts (3.3 avg.) behind former receiver Warren Redix, who picked up 52 yards on 10 carries.  Dowell added nine rushes for 43 yards.
The Panthers gained 518 yards on 53 plays, a 9.8-yard average.  Gardner rushed for 56 yards and chipped in with 96 receiving, averaging 10.1 yards every time he touched the ball.
UTEP has reached its bye week midway through the season.  The Miners will return to action at home versus Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m.
“We’ll try to get healed up as best as we can and try to compete our tails off the rest of the year,” Kugler said.  “We’re playing with a wide receiver at tailback, a safety at tailback, and we’re down to our third or fourth quarterback.  We’re bare bones, but it won’t keep us from competing.
“I apologize to all the Miner fans for how our season is going so far this year.  Nobody hurts more than me.  And nobody is going to work harder to try to get it corrected than me.”
Author: UTEP Athletics

Miners look to FIU Saturday, still searching for first CUSA win

The Miners take their talents to South Beach to battle Florida International University in an attempt to erase the memory of their 25-6 loss to UT San Antonio last week.

Quarterback Ryan Metz, in particular, will be looking to improve on his one touchdown, four-interception performance against UTSA. Prior to that, Metz had thrown for five touchdowns to only one interception.

“I just need to try and relax more and I guess get back to my roots, being confident out there,” Metz said. “When I was out there, you know, New Mexico State I guess I was more relaxed and this past week I think that got away from me. I just have to go out there and really have some fun, it’s what it all boils down to.”

Limiting turnovers has been an area of focus for the Miners heading into their game against FIU.

“We just have to protect the football and play smart and everybody’s have to do their job,” UTEP head coach, Sean Kugler said. “Keeping hits off the quarterback, the running backs having an efficient run game…where we’re certainly not in a situation like last week, throwing the ball 50 times. That’s not Miner football.”

The Miners have been outscored 206 to 116 through five games. UTEP opponents have also scored 51 points off turnovers compared to the Miners’ 10.

“I thought they really played a great game last week, certainly not well enough for us to win,” Kugler said. “We have to clean up a lot of things offensively going into this game, but I think that’s something defensively that we can build on.”

Building on that performance will be key for UTEP if it is to have any success against FIU. Both teams are looking  to even their record at 3-3, with the Miners looking toward a bye week.

 The UTEP defense had its best performance of the season last week, allowing less than 350 yards in total offense for the first time this season, but the players know they can do more.

“Going out there and getting three-and-outs and get the ball to our offense and get that momentum built up,” linebacker, Jimmy Musgrave said. “That’s what we need to do the whole game and we need to start producing turnovers. That’s something we’ve been focusing on, hopefully we get that going this week.”

The Miners will also have to improve upon their worst offensive performance of the season, scoring only six points with less than 300 yards of total offense, in addition to the five turnovers. Players simply talked about their need to make plays when the opportunity arises.

“Just catch the catchable balls, run good routes and like I said at first, he [Metz] puts the ball in the right place, you have to bring it in,” receiver Autrey Golden said. “Ever since Coach Kugs got here, we know that this team likes to run the ball. We just need to run the ball and be able to open up play action for everybody else to be successful.”

Kugler remains optimistic while lauding the efforts of his banged up team, as they continue their search for the first conference win of the season.

“We had a good week of practice, kids really worked hard,” Kugler said. “Like I’ve said before, I have a lot of admiration for this team…backs against the wall, unbelievable amount of injuries, but they just keep working, they keep competing, they keep fighting. From a head coach’s stand point, I can’t ask for anything more.”

This marks only the second meeting between the programs, as UTEP won the first meeting 33-10 at the Sun Bowl in 2013.

Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday at FIU stadium in Miami, Fl.

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