UT El Paso February 17, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP to Host Rice, Middle Tennessee in C-USA Bonus Play; Discounted Tickets Available
The Conference USA Bonus Play schedule was released on Saturday night, with the UTEP men’s basketball team slated to host Rice on Saturday, February 23 (7 p.m.), and Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, March 6 (TBD).
“We’re excited about C-USA Bonus Play and the opportunity to play two more games in front of our passionate fans,” UTEP coach Rodney Terry said. “They’ve been tremendous all season long and we’re counting on their continued support as we fight to earn a spot in the C-USA Tournament. It’s going to be a super competitive final four games and we’ve instituted ‘Bonus Prices’ for ‘Bonus Play’ in the Haskins Center, which will hopefully help us pack the arena!”
In addition, UTEP men’s basketball season ticket holders can receive one (1) free ticket to either of the Miners’ Bonus Play home games by presenting their season ticket at the UTEP Ticket Center Mesa Street location.
The Miners will also play road games at Charlotte on Sunday, March 3 (TBD), and at Middle Tennessee on Saturday, March 9 (TBD) as they continue to battle for a spot in the 2019 Air Force Reserve C-USA Basketball Championships Presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Performance Center at The Star. The 2019 C-USA Championships will be held March 13-16 in Frisco.
The home and away matchups in Bonus Play were determined by a preset formula.
UTEP closed out the first 14 games of the 18-game C-USA schedule with a 3-11 record. The Miners are in 13th place in the league standings.
Under the new Bonus Play model, UTEP is locked into the 11-14 group. Should the Miners earn a bid to the C-USA Championship, they would be seeded either 11th or 12th. The top 12 teams in the final 18-game standings will advance to the event.
The Miners are a combined 2-1 versus the other three teams (Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, Rice) in their grouping this season. UTEP edged Rice, 65-64, on Jordan Lathon’s buzzer beater on January 12 in El Paso, fell at Middle Tennessee, 75-72, on January 19 and knocked off Charlotte in the Haskins Center, 57-53, on January 26.
Television information and remaining game times for C-USA Bonus Play games will be announced on Sunday.
All seats in the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Copper sections are half-price for the Miners’ two C-USA Bonus Play home games. Gold prices for the two games are $14 (regularly $28), Silver are $12 (regularly $24), Bronze are $10 (regularly $20) and Copper are $8 (regularly $16). Upper reserved prices remain $8.
Tickets will go on sale Monday at the UTEP Ticket Center (2901 North Mesa), or by calling (915) 747-5234. Tickets will also be available at the UTEP Eastside Ticket Center location (1452 N. Zaragoza Suite A-500) or online.
Four Miners hit double figures as freshman Nigel Hawkins led the way with 20 points. Senior Paul Thomas, freshman Jordan Lathon and sophomore Evan Gilyard each tallied 16 points and UTEP shot over 50 percent in the second half to down FIU, 85-75, in front of 5,094 rowdy fans in the Haskins Center Saturday night.
“Give the guys a lot of credit,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew the other night that was one of maybe three games we had to fight to get the win. We were a little jumpy to start the game and we knew they would start the game with some pressure, so once we settled into the game we were able to attack up the floor. Our guys did a much better job of cleaning that up as the game went on.”
After the Panthers (14-11, 5-7 Conference USA) took a 12-point lead in the first half, the Miners (8-15, 3-9 C-USA) used a 12-0 run to tie the game and ended the first half on a 20-4 run to go up four points (37-33) at the half. The Miners took their first lead with 46 seconds left in the half and never looked back.
The Panthers went with a full-court press early, but the Miners were able to break their press and score their most points at home in a league contest.
Hawkins shot 7-for-11 from the field, including a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. Gilyard went 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, while Lathon connected on a career-high four three pointers on four attempts. Thomas shot 6-for-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from downtown.
The strong end to the first period carried over into the second. The Miners largest lead was 16 points (60-44) at the 12:31 mark after a Hawkins’s jumper. FIU cut the lead to six points on multiple occasions, but the Miners kept making buckets.
Thomas scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half on 5-of-6 shooting, while Hawkins added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field during the second stanza.
“It stemmed from our defensive intensity, how we ended the first half on a good run. I think we picked up from that intensity and energy from the first half and carried over into the second,” Thomas said. “It’s something we have struggled with all season but we fought through it. I’m proud of our guys.”
At the one point going back to the end of the first half, UTEP had hit seven of its last eight three-point attempts, while starting the second half by making 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. Thomas connected on two of those treys. After a pair of Antonio Daye Jr. free throws to get FIU within two points (37-35) at the 19:17 mark, Thomas answered with back-to-back threes as his squad took an eight-point lead (43-35) at the 18:21 mark.
Lathon gave UTEP its biggest lead at time when he converted a layup at the 17:35 mark, making the score 45-35.
Efe Odigie tallied 15 boards as UTEP outrebounded FIU, 46-28. The Miners also connected on 75.0 percent (21-28) of their free throws and recorded 13 offensive rebounds that helped lead to 11-second chance points.
Kobe Magee made his first start since Nov. 9 at NM State. Magee chipped in with four points, three rebounds in 25 minutes of action and tied Lathon for the team lead with three assists. Kaosi Ezeagu also made his second start of his career and first since Nov. 14 at Arizona. Ezeagu played 12 minutes and scored four points with seven rebounds.
Thomas also registered nine rebounds before fouling out, while Lathon also fouled out, but was walking up and down the bench, cheering on his teammates and encouraging the fans to do the same.
FIU started the first half, connecting on 4-of-8 from three-point range and took a 29-17 lead on a Michael Douglas trey at the 5:25 mark. Devon Andrews led the Panthers with nine points in the first period.
The fighting Miners responded with a 12-0 run to tie the game 29-29 as Lathon and Hawkins combined for all the points. Hawkins started the run with a dunk, while Lathon connected on two of his three first half three pointers to get Miner nation on their feet in the Haskins Center.
After FIU took a 33-31 lead on an Andrews’s jumper, Evan Gilyard tied the game and then Hawkins gave his squad its first lead (35-33) of the game after he converted a layup on a fast break. Gilyard followed with a reverse, left-handed layup to put UTEP up 37-33.
Lathon led the half with 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting (3-3 on threes) and Hawkins tallied 10 points that included a 4-for-4 effort from the charity stripe.
Overall for FIU, Andrews paced his squad with 26 points, while Daye Jr. scored 14. Brian Beard Jr., the Panthers’ leading scorer, was held to just four points on 1-of-10 shooting and fouled out of the contest.
Up next,UTEP will play at LA Tech on Feb. 14 (5:30 p.m. MT) and at Southern Miss on Saturday night (1 p.m. MT).
Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald-Post
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Nigel Hawkins produced another solid road effort, leading UTEP with 17 points and five rebounds, while Evan Gilyard scored 16 points. But WKU took advantage of the Miners’ overall poor shooting and came out with a 76-59 victory on Saturday night at E.A Diddle Arena.
“We had opportunities in the second half,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But we didn’t guard quite as well as we did in the first half.We cut it to a two-possession game and had opportunities to make it a game down the stretch, but we didn’t get meaningful stops when we had to and then we didn’t come down and finished on offense.
Charles Bassey (17 points, 12 rebounds) registered his Conference USA-leading 11th double-double to lead the Hilltoppers (13-10, 6-4 C-USA), while the Miners (7-14, 2-8 C-USA) shot only 36.1 percent from the field.
UTEP got within two points (43-41) after Hawkins converted a layup on a fast break early in the second period. However, WKU went on a 9-0 run to go up 52-41 after a Josh Anderson jumper at the 12:22 mark.
The Miners fought back to get within four points (54-50) on a Hawkins three with 8:42 remaining in the contest.
After cutting the deficit to four points, WKU outscored UTEP 22-9 to end the game.
Efe Odigie scored eight points and tallied four rebounds, while Kobe Magee chipped in with eight points on a pair of three-point buckets, including one that got the Miner within seven points (63-57) with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Jordan Lathon and Magee each recorded three assists. Lathon added four points, three rebounds and two blocks.
Gilyard left the contest with an injury, but returned to finish the contest with the Miners down 11 points (52-41). He returned at about the 10 minutes left in the game and scored six consecutive points. Gilyard connected on three free throws and hit a three-point basket to make the count 54-47 at the 9:40 mark.
The Miners kept the turnovers (11) minimal, while blocking five shots and hitting on 81.8 percent of their free throws.
Anderson led WKU with 18 points, while Jared Savage tallied 14 points. The Hilltoppers outrebounded the Miners, 41-32, including 11 on the offensive side that led to 19 second-chance points.
During the first half, the Miners took a 20-18 lead after Hawkins converted on a pair of free throws with over seven minutes remaining in the half. WKU, however, answered with a 14-2 run to take 32-22 lead. Anderson accounted for 12 of those points, while Bassey made a jumper in the paint.
Again, as they have all season, the Miners answered WKU’s run with a run of their own led by Gilyard. The Miners went on a 9-2 run to close the half as Gilyard accounted for four of the points. Hawkins started the run on a made free throw at the 3:15 mark. Ountae Campbell made jumper in the paint and Magee’s jumper with 31 seconds remaining got his squad back within three points (34-31) heading into the locker room.
Lamonte Bearden attempted a jumper, but Kaosi Ezeagu recorded his second blocked shot to end the half.
The Miners played a clean first half in terms of turnovers, only committing four.
Up next, UTEP will host Florida Atlantic on Thursday, Feb. 7 with tipoff starting at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center. The Miners will then host FIU on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Junior Zuzanna Puc produced a double-double (23 points, career-high 14 boards) while redshirt-junior Neidy Ocuane (career-high 14 points) and junior Katarina Zec (12 points) also got going on offense but short-handed UTEP was clipped by Marshall, 63-60, inside the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
“I’m extraordinarily proud of our team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “They’ve had every bit of adversity that you can have, but they keep working hard and coming back to the gym with a good attitude. They keep giving themselves chances like we did tonight.”
The Miners (4-17, 1-7 C-USA), who dressed seven players, led for 28 minutes. They were up by 11 (45-34) at the break after matching their highest scoring half of the season. To their credit the Thundering Herd (12-9, 6-2 C-USA) struck back, on the way to leading by seven (57-50) with six minutes to go. UTEP climbed back to within one (61-60), but Zec’s jumper from inside the free-throw line in the waning seconds spun out. After a foul, Marshall’s Khadaijia Brooks connected on both free throws. UTEP called timeout to advance the ball, but Jordan Alexander’s desperation 3-pointer to tie it came up short.
UTEP continued to be plagued by injuries, suiting up only seven players. Ariona Gill logged 10 minutes in her first action after missing eight straight games to an injury, pitching in two points and three helpers. Every other Miner played at least 20 minutes, with Puc (career-high 39 minutes), Zec (38 minutes) and Ocuane (career-high tying 37 minutes) securing the most time.
The Miners moved the ball effectively, recording 17 assists on their 22 made field goals. They also took care of it well, turning it over just nine times. UTEP held the Thundering Herd to 37.7 percent from the floor, including 26.7 percent (8-30) from distance. The Miners shot extremely well in the first half, connecting on 51.5 percent (17-33). They cooled off after the break, going 5-30 (16.7 percent) during the second half.
UTEP came out firing on all cylinders, scoring on its first three possessions to grab an early 7-5 advantage. After a mini push by the Thundering Herd that gave them a 10-9 edge, the Miners countered by unleashing an 11-3 run over the next four minutes to lead by seven (20-13) with 2:56 to play in the period. UTEP continued to knock down shots, on the way to leading by 11 (29-18) through 10 minutes of action. Puc was instrumental in the frame, tying for the second-most points (14) by a Miner in a quarter in program history.
It was a back-and-forth second quarter, with UTEP extending the margin to as many on 14 on a pair of occasions. Brooks hit a triple inside 30 seconds to play in the frame, allowing MU to keep the deficit at 11 (45-34) heading to the second half It was at that point perhaps fatigue became a factor, with the Thundering Herd outscoring the Orange and Blue, 29-15, over the final 20 minutes of the contest.
Even with the shots not going down in the second half, UTEP’s defense kept it in the game. The Miners limited the Thundering Herd to just two points, the aforementioned free throws by Brooks, in the final 3:30 of the contest.
UTEP will wrap up its two-game homestand when it plays host to WKU at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. There will be a special presentation at halftime, with the first team in program history (1974-75) being recognized.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234.
HUNTINGTON, W.V. – Nigel Hawkins (22 points), Efe Odigie (22 points), Jordan Lathon (15 points) and Kaosi Ezeagu (four points) combined for a UTEP freshman record 63 points, but Marshall senior Jon Elmore scored a career-high 44 points as the Thundering Herd (13-9, 6-3 Conference USA) pulled away from UTEP (7-13, 2-7 C-USA), 91-86, on Thursday night in the Henderson Center.
“Our young guys performed hard and went up against some experience; experienced perimeter players for that matter,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We’ve played three straight games when they’ve had seniors on the floor and tonight we let one that’s really, really good [Jon Elmore] – and will have his jersey hanging in the rafters – got off to a great start. He’s a really good player and played great tonight.”
Elmore scored 26 of his 44 during the second half. He went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line during the second period.
Odigie added his ninth double-double on a career-high 20 rebounds. Odigie and Hawkins each led the Miners in points (22), while Hawkins set a career-high with four steals and pulled down eight rebounds.
After being tied at 37-37 at halftime, Marshall took a 12-point lead (58-46), its biggest of the game, after Rondale Watson connected on a pair of free throws at the 14:25 mark.
The Miners would fight back as they have all season. The lead would be chipped away as UTEP got back to within five points (58-53) when Lathon made a layup. After another pair of seven-point deficits, the Miners climbed back to take a 65-64 lead after a pair of made Evan Gilyard free throws at the 8:57 mark.
After the Thundering Herb built an 85-78 lead with 3:47 remaining in the contest, UTEP got within three points two times down the stretch. Paul Thomas converted a layup, making the score 85-82 with 1:59 remaining in the game, while Odigie made layup with five seconds left to get within a trio of points again (89-86). But Elmore and C.J. Burks hit key free throws to seal the victory.
Thomas shot the ball well, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including going 3-for-4 from downtown. Ezeagu added three rebounds and two blocked shots.
During the first half, The Miners largest lead was a 31-23 score when Ezeagu converted a layup at the 3:43 mark. Marshall and UTEP would trade buckets during the next few minutes. The Thundering Herd made a pair of baskets to make the score 31-27, but a Hawkins three-pointer made it a seven-point lead (34-27). Jarrod West answered Hawkins’s three with one of his own, but Thomas answered his with second of the half to make the count 37-30.
However, Marshall would end the half on a 7-0 run to tie the score (37-37), heading into the locker room. Lathon finished with four rebounds and a blocked shot, while going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
Overall, the Miners shot the best from the free-throw all season, going 16-for-17 (94.1 percent). Marshall shot 85.7 percent (18-21) from the free-throw line.
Burks added 18 points, while Jannson Williams chipped in with 11 points.
Up next, UTEP will continue its road trip with a contest at WKU on Saturday, Feb. 2. The Miners and Hilltoppers will tipoff at 5:30 p.m. MT/6:30 CT in Bowling Green, Ky.
Evan Gilyard connected on a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining, while Jordan Lathon made a big defensive stop and the UTEP Miners (7-12, 2-6 Conference USA) defeated the Charlotte 49ers (5-15, 2-7 C-USA) in front of a raucous crowd at the Haskins Center Saturday night.
“We will take [wins] any way we can get them right now,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “This time of the season I always tell our team you have to be really excited about playing. I thought our guys had good energy, we gave them a good recovery time yesterday afternoon. We had a good walk through with a quick turnaround against a Princeton offense, which is not the easiest thing to guard. Our guys did a really good job of sitting down, and really trying to follow their defensive rules this game. It is a lot different than the way we play defense, so guys had to adapt and adjust and stay between their man and the basket. We didn’t give up backdoor cuts and I thought we did a good job.”
With UTEP up 55-53, Charlotte prolific scorer Jon Davis attempted a jumper with four seconds remaining, but Lathon stepped in front of Davis and blocked his shot out of bounds in favor of the Miners. Davis then fouled Gilyard, in which the sophomore sealed the deal with his two made free throws.
Paul Thomas, who came off the bench the previous two games, made his way back into the starting lineup. The senior answered with 11 points, seven rebounds, a blocked shot and two steals. Thomas scored UTEP’s first five points, while he hit key shots down the stretch.
Nigel Hawkins put up good all-around number, scoring 12 points and leading the team with eight rebounds. Hawkins tied Lathon with three assists to lead the squad. Lathon chipped in with eight points and four rebounds.
The back-and-forth contest saw the scored tied seven times, while the lead changed nine times.
Gilyard scored 10 of his team-leading 13 points during the second half. Gilyard shot 3-for-5 from the field, including a made three-point bucket and a 3-for-4 effort from the charity stripe.
Davis, C-USA’s second leading scorer, tallied 19 of his 23 points during the second period, in which he kept the 49ers in the ball game.
UTEP went up as many as nine points (23-14) during the first half, but Charlotte closed out the half on a 5-0 run in which Davis hit a jumper and Jaylan McGill made a three pointer with eight seconds remaining and getting the 49ers within four points (23-19).
Charlotte’s biggest lead during the second half was a 31-29 edge after a Davis three-point bucket. But the Miners answered with a 12-2 run to go up 41-33 with just over nine minutes left in the contest. Hawkins began the run with a pair of made free throws, while connecting on a three-point shot and putting UTEP up 34-31. After Malik Martin made a jumper to get within a point, Gilyard connected on a two-point bucket after a Hawkins’ steal and assist. Gilyard then made a three-point shot, while Hawkins followed with two made free throws to end the run.
But Charlotte wouldn’t go away as it went on a 10-2 run to tie the contest at 43-43 with 4:34 remaining. Davis scored all 10 of the points, while Lathon added a pair of free throws during the run.
Thomas came up with a three-point play after drawing a foul on a made two-point shot to put UTEP up 46-43.
After a Brandon Younger jump shot to get the 49ers within one (46-45), Thomas rebounded one of his missed shots and put it back with 2:40 left in the game to put the Miners up 48-45.
Charlotte had an answer for every UTEP run down the stretch. The Miners went up six points (52-46) with 1:29 left and the 49ers crept to within a point on multiple occasions before the final 20 seconds of drama.
Charlotte shot only 38.5 percent (20-52), while only connecting on 6-of-25 three-point attempts.
“We did a good job. We like to be an aggressive defensive team where we are in passing lanes,” Terry said. “When you play a Princeton offense you have to stay between your man and the basket. You have to do a great job on their split game, and I thought we did a great job of communicating on the split game actions.”
Up next, UTEP will play at Marshall on Jan. 31 (5:30 p.m. MT). The Thundering Herd and Miners will be streamed on beIN Sports. UTEP will then play at WKU on Feb. 2 (5 p.m. MT) on ESPN+.
Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post
Efe Odigie registered his eighth career double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds), but Old Dominion had three players hit double figures as it got past UTEP, 50-48, on Thursday night in the Don Haskins Center.
“At the end of the day it’s about just trying to find a way to win,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Our young guys are going through growing pains with what it takes to finish games. Things are really magnified late in games when you really have to lock into the details and follow the scouting report all the way through. Especially when you are playing veteran teams with veteran players that know what they are looking for. You shoot the gap on [B.J.] Stith he knows exactly what to do on that, he is fading all day long, and he is going to make that shot more than he misses.”
Both squads didn’t shoot particularly well in the low-scoring affair as the Miners (6-12, 1-6 Conference USA) shot 25.9 percent and the Monarchs (16-5, 6-2 C-USA) shot 30.8 percent.
The Miners had a chance to either tie or win the ball game when they got the ball back with seven seconds remaining. Ahmad Caver missed a jumper that was rebounded by Jordan Lathon. UTEP then called a timeout after Lathon advanced the ball across midcourt to draw up a final play. On the ensuing play, Lathon drove baseline, passed the ball to Odigie in the low post but Dajour Dickens was credited with a steal after he and Odigie got tied up to force a jump ball in which the possession arrow was in favor of ODU. The Monarchs were able to take the ball and run the clock out.
UTEP was down as many as 11 points (44-33) at the 8:48 mark during the second half as a Justice Kithcart three pointer gave the Monarchs their biggest lead of the game.
But the fighting Miners answered with an 8-0 run to get within three points (44-41) at the 5:55 mark. Evan Gilyard, who got off to a poor start shooting the ball, scored all seven of his points during the run. Gilyard connected on four consecutive free throws and hit a three-point bucket. Odigie ended the run with a made free throw
After ODU took a pair of five-point leads, Lathon nailed a three-point shot at the 2:11 mark to get the Miners within two points (48-46). Odigie would tie the game at 48-48, but B.J. Stith made a pair of free throws with just over a minute remaining.
The Miners biggest lead was a 7-4 advantage in the first at the 13:14 mark during the first half, but the Monarchs outscored them 18-10 the rest of the way and went into the locker room up 22-17.
Nigel Hawkins scored eight points on 3-of-14 shooting, while recording five rebounds and tying Gilyard for the team lead with three assists. Gilyard also registered six rebounds. Lathon scored seven points and recorded four rebounds with two assists and a steal. Ountae Campbell recorded a career-high seven rebounds and chipped in with three points. Paul Thomas and Kobe Magee each scored five points.
Odigie, who ranks second in C-USA with eight double-doubles, also tallied three steals and pulled down six offensive rebounds.
ODU outrebounded UTEP, 47-46, while the Monarchs also edged out the Miners on the offensive glass, 17-16.
Kithcart led with 16 points, while Caver scored 13 points and Stith 12. Aaron Carver led ODU with nine rebounds.
Up next, UTEP will host Charlotte on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Gallery courtesy Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post
NORFOLK, Va. – Jordan Alexander tallied a team-high 15 points and short-handed UTEP battled before running out of steam in a 78-59 loss at Old Dominion on Thursday.
“We continue to fight but just cannot catch a break. We’re not going to make excuses because we had plenty of opportunities,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “I’m really proud of our team. We had some kids go down (with injuries) and we could have pouted and could have laid down but instead they kind of fought back.”
The Miners (4-15, 1-5 C-USA) fell behind by 12 (13-1) seven minutes into the contest before digging in to try to fight back. UTEP twice got the margin to four and trailed by only eight (56-48) through three quarters before fatigue became a factor.
The Lady Monarchs (14-5, 5-2 C-USA) outscored the visitors, 22-11, in the final frame to pull away for their fifth straight win. The Orange and Blue finished the contest with six healthy players, as both Jordan Jenkins and Alexa Hoy sustained injuries during the game.
UTEP shot 34.7 percent (17-49) from the floor, including making six triples, while also enjoying a big day at the charity stripe (19-27, 70 percent). The Miners also won the boards (38-35, ODU). The homestanding Lady Monarchs made up for it by shooting a bit better (29-64, 45.3 percent) and taking great care of the ball (seven turnovers).
Katarina Zec tallied 11 points, including nailing two triples, to join Alexander in double figures. Ariana Taylor, Zuzanna Puc and Jade Rochelle all finished with seven points while Hoy pitched in six before leaving with the aforementioned injury,
Homestanding ODU started well, vaulting out to a 13-1 lead seven minutes into the contest. Taylor banked home a shot in traffic for UTEP’s first field goal of the contest, halting the surge in the process. It was back-and-forth the rest of the period, with the Miners trailing by 10 (19-9) through 10 minutes of action.
The margin was 13 (27-14) with six minutes left in the half before UTEP started to make a move. It peeled off nine straight points over the next three minutes to cut the deficit all the way down to four (27-23) with 3:17 to play in the period. It remained a four-point tilt (29-25) inside of three minutes of the half before a mini 5-0 run from the home side. UTEP used three straight free throws to climb within six (34-28) but the Lady Monarchs scored the final four points of the frame to make it a double-digit difference (38-28) at the half.
Old Dominion gradually extended the lead to as 15 (52-37) in halfway through the third quarter, but UTEP refused to fold up shop. The Orange and Blue fought back cutting the lead in half by virtue of an 11-3 surge over the next four minutes before settling for the eight-point deficit (56-48) heading to the fourth quarter.
It was back-and-forth over the first five minutes of the period, with the margin still in single digits (64-55) before the ODU was able to create some separation down the stretch.
UTEP will conclude its two-game swing to the Eastern Time Zone when it plays at Charlotte at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET on Saturday. The contest will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Brandon Cohn on the call.
Staff Report January 19, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on Gallery+Story: C-USA League Leader Middle Tennessee Downs UTEP 79-49
UTEP hung tough early with league-leading Middle Tennessee before the visitors found another level in an eventual 79-49 defeat Saturday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center.
“I want to give a shout out to our unbelievable fans,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We came out of the tunnel in the second half. They lifted our players and were encouraging. This is why UTEP is a special place. It’s tough for us, for our players but we can find things in the second half that we can build on.”
The Miners (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) trailed by just four (14-10) with 4:31 to play in the first quarter only to have the Blue Raiders (15-4, 6-0 C-USA) rip off a 36-7 half-closing run to head into the locker room armed with a 50-17 advantage.
To its credit, UTEP continued to battle after the break and was rewarded by outscoring the first place team in the league, 32-29, over the final 20 minutes.
Zuzanna Puc (17 points) and Jordan Alexander (14 points) reached double digits in scoring for the Miners, who were plagued by an off shooting day. UTEP finished at 28.6 percent (12-42) from the floor in the contest. MT cooled off in the second half but still finished at 44.4 percent (26-63) for the game. The visitors also drained 11 3-pointers to the Miners’ four triples.
UTEP committed only 11 turnovers and was credited with nine helpers on its 12 made field goals. Puc pulled down a team-high eight rebounds while Jade Rochelle (six) and Alexa Hoy (career-high five) also got involved on the glass.
MT was led by A’Queen Hayes, who finished with a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds). Alexis Whittington (13 points) and Taylor Sutton (10 points) also reached double figures for the Blue Raiders.
MT set the tone early by peeling off seven straight points to start the ballgame. UTEP countered by tallying seven of the next points in the contest, cutting the margin to two (9-7) with 6:55 left in the first quarter. After a mini 5-0 run from the Blue Raiders, the Orange and Blue used a free throw from Puc and a jumper by Alexander to get within four (14-10) with 4:31 remaining in the opening stanza. It took a turn from that point on, with MT outscoring UTEP, 16-3, to close out the period and put the Miners down by 17 (30-13) after 10 minutes of action.
UTEP moved the ball effectively on offense in the second quarter to create some good looks, but just couldn’t get them to fall. It was a different story for MT, which continued to click on all cylinders on the way to leading by 33 (50-17) heading into halftime. The visitors shot a ridiculous 66.7 percent (20-30) over the first 20 minutes.
The Blue Raiders opened up the third quarter on a 7-0 push, making it a 40-point tilt (57-17) with 7:04 to play in the third quarter. Rochelle drilled a jumper to end the surge, and it was back-and-forth the rest of the period, with MT only managing to extend its halftime cushion by two as the contest swung into the final frame.
The home side enjoyed its finest moments of the contest in the fourth quarter. The Miners nailed 55.6 percent (5-9) from the floor in the frame, including 4-4 on treys, while also sinking 10 free throws on the way to piling up 24 points in the final 10 minutes of action against the top scoring defense in C-USA. Puc led the charge, tallying 12 of her team-high 17 points in the period. She was 3-3 from distance in the final quarter (3-6 for the game), an amazing feat considering she entered the contest having gone 2-16 on triples this season.
UTEP heads back on the road with a cross-country trip for a pair of match-ups in the Eastern Time Zone. Up first is a 9 a.m. MT/11 a.m. ET game at Old Dominion on Thursday, with the special tipoff time due to it an “Education Day” promotion. The Miners will then conclude a stretch of playing five of their first seven league contests on the road with a tilt at Charlotte at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET on January 26. Both contests will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Brandon Cohn on the call.
Staff Report January 17, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on Gallery+Story: UTEP Toppled By Preseason League Favorite UAB 74-48
Junior Zuzanna Puc notched her fourth double-double (11 points, career-high 13 rebounds) of the year while sophomore Alexa Hoy joined her in double figures (team-high 13 points) but UTEP couldn’t sustain a strong start in a 74-48 setback to preseason league favorite UAB at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
“I’m proud of our team for coming out and playing so well (in the first quarter),” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We were toe-to-toe with them (14-13), and I couldn’t have been prouder. We could not throw it in there in the second quarter. We played them to one point in the third and six points in the fourth. Our battled and yet again a sophomore led us in scoring. I saw so many positives out there that we can build on. My hat is off to Randy (Norton) and UAB. They’re every good as you need to be to to win the conference.”
The Miners (4-13, 1-3 C-USA) got off to a much-needed good start, leading by seven (11-4) with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter. The Blazers (16-2, 4-1 C-USA) regrouped and struck back in the form of a 34-6 run to suddenly surge out by 21 (38-17) late in the opening half. The home side played hard the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
UTEP was hindered by an off shooting night, finishing at a season-low 26.6 percent (17-64) from the floor. It was a different story for the Blazers, who connected on 44.8 percent (26-57) of their shots. UAB also was locked in from distance, nailing 13-29 (44.8 percent) from beyond-the-arc.
The Orange and Blue tried to make up for that by taking good care of the ball (12 turnovers), winning the boards (42-38), enjoying a 21-0 margin in second-chance points and a 28-22 differential in points in the paint but it wasn’t enough. Jade Rochelle came off the bench to tally nine points while also grabbing six boards, buoying the efforts of Puc and Hoy.
Rachael Childress (18 points), Lea Kerstein (16 points) and Katelynn Thomas (16 points) led the charge for the visitors while Deanna Kuzmanic added eight points. It marked the 13th consecutive road win in C-USA play for the defending regular-season league champions.
UTEP bucked its recent trend of sluggish starts by jumping out to an 8-2 advantage of the first five minutes of the contest, forcing visiting UAB to call timeout. It was a balanced approach in the stretch for UTEP, with four different Miners scoring. The Blazers got a jumper from Kuzmanic to go out of their timeout, but Hoy countered immediately with a triple off a feed from Rochelle.
The bucket afforded the Orange and Blue a seven-point cushion (11-4) with 3:49 left in the quarter. UAB regrouped, closing the frame on a 10-2 push to grab a one-point edge (14-13) through 10 minutes of action.
Puc split a pair of free throws early on in the second frame, resulting in the first time of the tilt. Much to the chagrin of the Miner faithful, the visitors peeled off the next eight points. Puc made a lay-up to halt the sequence, only to have UAB rip off 11 consecutive points to put the Miners down by 17 (33-16) with 3:03 remaining in the frame.
It was back-and-forth the final three minutes, with UTEP forced to head into the locker room down by 19 (38-19).
The Orange and Blue turned in an extremely competitive second half, with UAB only holding a +7 margin (36-29) over the final 20 minutes of action. Aiding that was holding the Blazers to 33.3 percent (5-15) shooting in the third quarter, including 16.7 percent (1-6) on 3-point tries in that frame.
UTEP wraps up its mini two-game homestand by playing host to Middle Tennessee at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234. Additionally, all popcorn will be $1 in honor of “National Popcorn Day.”
BIRMINGHAM, Al. – Evan Gilyard scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half, giving UTEP a halftime lead. But UAB outscored the Miners, 47-31, in the second half and claimed a 76-63 victory on Thursday night in Bartow Arena.
“We didn’t start the second half the right way and we really didn’t close the first right and gave up a bad play to end the half,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Then we weren’t ready in the first four minutes of the second half for whatever reason at the level of intensity you have to have on the road. We let a couple 50-50 balls get away from us and we gave them some easy baskets.”
The Miners (6-10, 1-4 Conference USA) got off to a blazing start, going up 13-2 in the first four minutes of the contest. However, the Blazers (11-7, 3-2 C-USA) answered with a 14-0 run to take a 16-13 lead at the 10:09 mark.
Efe Odigie ended the run with a two-point bucket in the paint, while the Miners finished the first half on a 19-13 run to take a 32-29 halftime lead. At one point, the Miners had a 32-27 lead and possession of the ball with second remaining in the first half, but a turnover led to a UAB bucket right before the buzzer.
The Blazers outscored the Miners 10-4 and took a three-point lead at the 13:32 mark after an explosive dunk by Tavin Lovan. Makhtar Gueye followd with a jumper, giving his squad a 41-36 lead and never looked back.
Gilyard was on fire in the first half, scoring on 6-for-12 shooting, including a 4-for-6 effort from downtown.
Odigie registered his seventh career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Nigel Hawkins scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, while lead the team with four assists. Jordan Lathon tallied seven points and seven rebounds.
The Blazers took control in the second half, going up as many as 17 points. UAB outrebounded UTEP, 34-26, while the Blazers only turned the ball over 10 times.
Lewis Sullivan led UAB with 18 points, while Zack Bryant and Lovan each chipped in with 14 points.
UTEP will play at Middle Tennessee (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) Jan. 19. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MT in the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders are coming off an 89-86 win against UTSA, handing the Roadrunners their first league loss of the season in Murfreesboro.
The UTEP women’s basketball team (4-12, 1-2 C-USA) will open up the home portion of its Conference USA slate by welcoming preseason favorite and defending regular-season champion UAB (15-2, 3-1 C-USA) to the Don Haskins Center for a match-up at 7 p.m.
“UAB will be a good challenge for us. They are the defending Conference USA champions and they are playing at a level high enough to repeat last year’s accomplishment. They are very well coached and shoot the ball extremely well from the perimeter. We will need have great game to be able to beat them, but I am confident that our team is on the verge of turning the corner. A win over UAB would get us back on track in a hurry,” head coach Kevin Baker said.
The Miners will be looking to snap a two-game skid, having fallen most recently at Rice, 76-42, on January 12. The Blazers are coming off a 71-60 vanquishing of Southern Miss on January 12.
UTEP will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 9, as it has had seven straight (five road, two neutral) contests outside of El Paso. The Miners are 2-5 on the year in the Don Haskins Center, with the first four losses by four points or less. The Blazers are 6-0 on the road, including 2-0 within C-USA action.
UAB has won 12 straight C-USA road contests, with its last such defeat coming at Middle Tennessee (87-56), on February 26, 2017.
Thursday’s contest marks the second of three straight games against the teams voted in the top three of the C-USA preseason poll. The stretch started with a 76-42 loss at Rice (picked second) on January 12.
It continues this week at home with the match-ups against UAB (preseason favorite) and Middle Tennessee (picked third, 1 p.m. MT Saturday). Those teams are living up to the hype by sporting a combined record of 41-9 on the campaign, including 11-1 in league play.
UAB has a 10-9 edge in the series with the Miners, but UTEP has a 4-3 advantage when playing in El Paso. The two squads played a pair of games last season, with the Blazers winning both.
UAB toppled the Orange and Blue, 84-64, in El Paso on February 2, 2018, and then ended the Miners’ season with a 75-66 result in the quarterfinals of the 2018 C-USA Championships on March 8, 2018.
This is the first of two scheduled meetings on the campaign, with UTEP making the trip to Birmingham, Ala., on March 2. Additionally, the programs have locked up in the league tournament in five of the past seven campaigns. UAB won the first meeting ever between the programs, 61-41, on December 20, 1990.
The two squads did not square off again until the 2005-06 season when UTEP joined C-USA.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling 915-747-5234. It’s a two-for-one special this week, as fans who buy a single-game ticket for UTEP vs. UAB will receive a free ticket for the Miners’ match-up against Middle Tennessee 1 p.m. MT Saturday.
Additionally, the first 500 fans on Thursday will also receive a free drawstring bag.
The game will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller on the call. There will also be a live stream on CUSAtv.com (subscription based).
UT El Paso January 14, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP’s Hawkins Named Conference USA Men’s Basketball Freshman of the Week
DALLAS – UTEP guard Nigel Hawkins, who scored a career-high 24 points in UTEP’s dramatic 65-64 triumph on January 12, was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week presented by Top of the World and chosen by a vote from a media panel representing the 14-member schools.
Hawkins also produced career bests in made field goals (9-for-13) and shooting percentage (64.3), while chipping in with seven rebounds and an assist against the Owls. The Houston native also went 3-for-5 from three-point range and 3-for-4 from charity stripe.
Overall, Hawkins averaged 17.5 points per game, with 5.0 rebounds per contest and posted four assists during the Miners’ two contests last week. Hawkins shot 14-for-25 (56.0 percent) from the field, including a 4-for-8 effort from downtown and a 3-for-4 performance from the free-throw line.
On January 10, against North Texas, Hawkins scored 11 points and tallied three rebounds and three assists.
Hawkins has started in all 13 games played this season. The freshman ranks third on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg) and is averaging 4.8 rebounds. He’s dished out 23 assists, with five blocked shots and 11 steals.
For Hawkins, it’s his first FOTW honor, while it’s the fourth overall for the UTEP basketball program in 2018-19. Efe Odigie has earned it twice (Nov. 26, Dec. 24) and Jordan Lathon on Dec. 3. The Miners earned six FOTW honors in 2013-14 (Vince Hunter [five], Matt Willms [one]) and five in 2011-12 (Julian Washburn [four], Cedrick Lang [one]).
It’s also the first time in program history that a trio of UTEP freshmen have earned a FOTW honor.
Staff Report January 12, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on Video+Gallery+Story: UTEP Fries Rice With Buzzer Beater 65-64
Jordan Lathon hit the game-winning jumper as time expired, lifting the UTEP Miners in an exciting, 65-64, triumph over Rice on Saturday night in the Don Haskins Center.
“Just the way we drew it up. First off want to say we probably wouldn’t have gotten this done tonight if we didn’t have the support behind us. Miner nation was great,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “The crowd gave us a lot of energy. We didn’t come out with a lot of pop to start. I don’t know what that was for, we just didn’t have a lot of energy to start the ball game, but our crowd really stayed behind us, and was really the difference in the game.”
Lathon finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, a team-high five assists, a blocked shot and two steals, helping the Miners (6-9, 1-3 C-USA) to their first Conference USA victory of the season.
The Owls’ Trey Murphy III had put his squad up 64-63 after he grabbed an offensive rebound and connected on a three-point bucket with 1.6 second left on the clock.
“I just knew we had to get a shot up,” Lathon said. “I started to make shots in the ball game and my confidence went up. I didn’t know we’d get another opportunity after [Murphy III] made that shot. It kind of hurt us. But we stayed together and we grew as a team tonight.”
Ountae Campbell’s first pass attempt was deflected out of bounds in the corner, taking time off the clock. Campbell, from the bottom corner and with .5 seconds remaining, threw the ball to an open Lathon. The ball took one bounce, Lathon grabbed it and nailed the jumper from the baseline just inside the three-point line.
“We were set up for our home run play, and Ountae was going to be the guy to make the pass for us,” Terry said. “They put a big guy on the ball just like you are supposed to. A lot of times you would like to have a big guy who is your homerun passer, but in that situation, we didn’t really have anyone other than him that could do that for us. Once the deflection happened it changed the angle of where we were taking the ball out. We were still trying to run the same play, but as the ball changed I told Ountae to throw it down the side.”
Lathon was mobbed by his teammates, coaches and fans while the referees looked at the play on the monitor. The refs declared the shot good, electrifying the Haskins Center and giving Terry his first league win as UTEP’s head coach.
The Miners found themselves down 17 points (25-8) at the 9:24 mark as the Owls (7-11, 2-3 C-USA) connected on seven three pointers during that stretch to start the contest. With the score tied 5-5, Rice proceeded to go on a 17-1 run, making the count 22-6.
A layup by UTEP’s other freshman star Nigel Hawkins made the score 25-10 that set the tone for the remainder of the first half. The Miners would go to the locker room only down five points (34-29).
Hawkins finished with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and chipped in with seven boards and an assist. Hawkins also went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle between the two Texas rivals as the lead changed seven times. UTEP outscored Rice 8-2 on second chance points during the second period.
Lathon started a bit slow, scoring six points in the first half. But the Grandview, Mo., native and big Kansas City Chiefs fan, found his groove in the second half. Lathon hit the second of his three treys at the 14:06 mark to tie the contest 42-42. Lathon then gave the Miners a 49-47 lead with his third made three-point bucket at the 11:40 mark. He was a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown.
The Owls, prior to leading the ball game after Murphy III’s three-pointer, took a 56-52 lead with just over six minutes remaining. A made free throw by Hawkins and a three-point basket by Evan Gilyard tied the game 56-56 with 5:08 remaining to set up the drama for the 4,300-plus in the Bear’s Den.
Gilyard finished with 12 points, four rebounds and a steal. Campbell came off the bench, finished the game, and scored four points and tallied two assists, including the pass to Lathon. Efe Odigie grabbed nine rebounds and chipped in with six points, while Kobe Magee tallied two points and an assist.
The Miners outshot the Owls, 44.6 percent (25-56) to 36.7 percent (22-60). Rice was 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and outrebounded UTEP, 39-38.
“[Rice is] a team that makes nine threes a game, and they made 13 in the game tonight,” Terry said. “They shot 31 you know, so we knew coming in shooting defense was really big. If we could take their threes away then we really liked our chances in terms of what we needed to do. Give them a lot of credit they kept battling, and made it a tough ball game for us.”
Jack Williams made big shots for Rice, as he led his squad with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Robert Martin finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. They were the first to post a double-double against the Miners this season.
Up next, the Miners will hit the road for contests at UAB on Jan. 17 (6 p.m. MT) and Middle Tennessee on Jan. 19 (4 p.m. MT).
Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post
UT El Paso January 10, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on Gallery+Story: Late Three Pointers Lift North Texas Over UTEP 58-51
With UTEP down two points on a pair of occasions with under three minutes, North Texas redshirt freshman Umoja Gibson connected on a pair of late three-point buckets as the Mean Green (16-1, 3-0 Conference USA) got by the Miners (5-9, 0-3 C-USA), 58-51, on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center.
“The fifty-fifty balls were critical for us. We knew coming in that this was a team that thrives on fifty-fifty balls. This team here that we played tonight they really understand what it takes to win. They have gotten a taste of it so they know what it’s all about,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said.
“Right now, we have a small margin of error in terms of whether or not we don’t come up with the possession or we miss a layup. Those are really deflating plays for us right now because of where we are. You know our guys competed, and I cannot fault our effort. The one thing that I want our guys to stay dialed in is that we are right there in critical times you can’t have your hand down on a guy that we know can shoot the basketball. You have to be bought in 100 percent, and our guys are learning right now the process of what it’s going to take to win.”
UTEP fell down by as many as 13 points at the 13:34 mark of the second half, but kept battling all night. UTEP held UNT to its second lowest point total of the season and fewest first half points. The Miners also blocked a season-high eight shots.
The two squads went into the locker room tied 22-22, but North Texas outscored UTEP, 36-29, during the second period, shooting over 55 percent (5-9) from downtown after a 1-for-6 outing in the first.
Freshman Jordan Lathon made his way back into the starting lineup after missing a pair of games due to a hamstring injury. Lathon responded with nine points, four rebounds and a game-high four assists. With the score 53-48, Lathon came up with a clutch trey at the 1:49 mark to get his squad within two points (53-51).
Gibson, after starting the game 2-for-6, connected on a three at the 2:12 mark after Efe Odigie hit a jumper to make the score 50-48. Gibson then answered Lathon’s three with another to put the game away and the Mean Green up by five points (56-51) with just over a minute remaining in the ball game.
Odigie blocked a career-high four shots, while leading the Miners with 13 points and eight rebounds. Nigel Hawkins scored 11 points, while tallying three rebounds and three assists. Evan Gilyard was held to single digits (eight points), but grabbed six boards. Ountae Campbell played 21 minutes off the bench, scoring five points and dishing out three assists. Kaosi Ezeagu played 14 minutes and chipped in with two points, two blocks and three rebounds.
North Texas entered the contest with a plus-six rebounding edge, as it outrebounded UTEP, 43-28.
“We definitely addressed [rebounding] after the game. In terms of size, size has nothing to do with it. At the end of the day it’s what is inside that chest,” Terry said. “You have to have a lot of heart, you have to fight, and you have to compete. They have some guys over there who are older, and they do that at a very high level, and they understand that is a big part of winning. We are trying to teach our guys the nuances of what it takes to win. Especially in close games and what you have to do to close games.”
The Mean Green also outscored the Miners, 28-16, in the paint and 16-10 from the bench. The Miners, however, forced 19 UNT turnovers, after averaging only 12.6 on the season.
The Miners led by as many as nine points (12-3) eight minutes into the ball game after an Odigie jumper. But UNT outscored UTEP, 19-10, the rest of the way.
Roosevelt Smart and Gibson each scored 13 points to lead their squad, while Michael Miller added 11 points and Zachary Simmons 10. Ryan Woolridge and Gibson each tallied seven rebounds, while Jorden Duffy chipped in with six boards.
UTEP will conclude its three-game C-USA home stand with a matchup against another Texas rival Rice on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Photo Gallery by Johnny Yturales, Associate Photographer, El Paso Herald Post