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Home | Tag Archives: utep basketball

Tag Archives: utep basketball

UTEP Hoops to Host Rice in C-USA “Bonus Play” Saturday

Conference USA’s “Bonus Play” will start on Saturday (Feb. 23) as the UTEP Miners (8-17, 3-11 C-USA) will host the Rice Owls (10-17, 5-9 C-USA) for the second time this season.

Following Saturday’s contest, the Miners will play at Charlotte (March 3 at 11 a.m. MT), host Middle Tennessee on “Senior Night” (March 6 at 7 p.m.), and conclude the regular season against the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro, Tn. (March 9 at 6:30 p.m. MT). The Owls and Blue Raiders are 5-9 in league play.

The 49ers and Miners stand at 3-11 and will 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 (March 13-16 in Frisco, Texas).

UTEP and Rice are set to tip off at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center. All seats in the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Copper sections are half-price for Saturday’s contest. Gold prices 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 are available by calling (915) 747-5234 and are also available at the UTEP Eastside Ticket Center location (1452 N. Zaragoza Suite A-500) or online.

The Miners are coming off a pair of road losses at LA Tech (71-57 on Feb. 14) and Southern Miss (77-47 on Feb. 16). Efe Odigie continued to have a notable freshman campaign, posting his 10th and 11th double-doubles of the season on the trip.

Against the Bulldogs on Thursday, Odigie scored a team-high 16 points and recorded 10 rebounds. He followed with 10 points and 14 rebounds versus the Golden Eagles. The big man has posted four consecutive double-digit rebound games, including a 15-board effort against FIU. Odigie leads C-USA at 10.1 rebounds per game and is one of two league players averaging a double-double.

Odigie averages 12.7 points per game, while WKU’s Charles Bassey is averaging 14.9 points and 10.0 boards per contest.

The Owls made their way to the Sun City initially for a Jan. 12 contest against the Miners. Rice took an early 25-8 lead, its largest of the game, with just over nine minutes remaining in the first period. UTEP then woke up and outscored the Owls, 21-9, to cut the halftime deficit to five points (34-29).

The big story of the game was Jordan Lathon’s buzzer beater that lifted his squad past Rice, 65-64, in the final seconds. 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 seconds left on the clock. Ountae Campbell’s first pass attempt was deflected out of bounds in the corner, taking time off the clock. Campbell, with .5 seconds remaining, threw the crosscourt pass to an open Lathon.

The ball took one bounce, Lathon grabbed it, turned around and nailed the baseline jumper just inside the three-point line.

Freshman Nigel Hawkins led the Miners with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field against Rice. Hawkins added seven rebounds and a 3-for-5 effort from downtown. Lathon scored 17 points with seven rebounds and a team-high five assists. Evan Gilyard chipped in with 12 points and four boards, while Odigie tallied nine rebounds and six points.

Rice ranks fourth in C-USA in points per game (74.1), while rating 12th in scoring defense (78.1 ppg). The Owls are shooting 34.5 percent from beyond the arc, ranking fifth in the league. Chris Mullins paces the squad in points per game (12.3).

Ako Adams has dished out a team-high 72 assists and averages 11.7 points per game, and Robert Martin is collecting 11.6 points per outing in 27 games off the bench. Jack Williams leads the team in rebounds per game (7.9).

Fans can listen on KOFX 92.3 with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and Steve Yellen. The Spanish broadcast can be heard on ESPN Deportes 1650 AM with Omar Ropele and Abel Rodriguez.

The contest will also be streamed on CUSA.TV.

UTEP set to host UTSA Saturday; Fans in Free for National Girls and Women in Sports Day

The UTEP women’s basketball team (6-20, 3-10 C-USA) will wrap up its three-game homestand by playing host to UTSA (7-18, 2-11 C-USA) at 1 p.m. MT Saturday.

There will be free admission to the game as part of the celebration for National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

“UTSA has been playing well lately and is coming off an amazing come-from-behind victory over Louisiana Tech. They will look to build on that win and attempt to get in to the Conference Tournament. We will need a strong home crowd on Saturday to help us get over the top in this game as we look to gain momentum going in to our tournament,” Head Coach Kevin Baker said.

The Miners have dropped two straight, including a 64-63 setback last time out to Southern Miss (Feb. 16). The Roadrunners snapped a nine-game skid by edging LA Tech, 70-68, at home (Feb. 16).

This is the second meeting on the year between the programs, with UTEP posting a 73-60 victory at UTSA in the Conference USA opener for both squads (Jan. 5). The Miners are 2-11 on the season at home (0-6 in C-USA action). Seven of the home losses have been by four points or less, including a trio of one-point defeats.

The Roadrunners are 1-8 on the campaign on the road (1-5 C-USA). The game has big implications regarding the 2019 C-USA Championships (March 13-17). The Miners are alone in 11th place in the standings at 3-10. UTSA and FAU are tied for 12th at 2-11, with FIU last at 1-12. The top-12 teams qualify.

With a win UTEP all but assures itself a spot for the tournament, as it would be a combined 4-0 on the year against FAU, FIU and UTSA. A setback, however, would make the waters a bit murkier.

UTEP enters Saturday’s contest against UTSA at 3-10 in league play, putting it alone in 11th place in the Conference USA standings. The Miners have a one-game lead on 12th-place FAU (2-11 C-USA) and UTSA (2-11 C-USA) and a two-tilt cushion on FIU (1-12 C-USA).

The Miners own the tiebreaker with both FAU and FIU and are 1-0 on the year against UTSA. A victory against the Roadrunners all but assures the Miners one of the 12 coveted spots in the C-USA Championships (March 13-17).

Saturday’s game will be available on ESPN+ with Colin Deaver and Izabela McCage on the call. It will also be broadcast locally on 600 El Paso with Duke Keith and Traci Miller describing the action.

INJURY-RIDDLED SQUAD

UTEP has been hit hard by injuries, with the Miners having dressed seven players in seven straight contests. Ariona Gill, who had missed eight straight games (final nonconference, first seven C-USA), has come off the bench in six consecutive contests but Sabine Lipe (10 straight), Jordan Jenkins (seven straight) and Alexa Hoy (seven straight) continue to be sidelined.

Lipe and Jenkins are not expected back this season while Hoy’s return is unknown.

THE SERIES (OVERALL: UTSA LEADS, 22-12; IN EL PASO: UTSA LEADS, 10-7)

UTSA leads the series with UTEP, 22-12, including a 6-5 edge since joining Conference USA. The Miners won at UTSA, 73-60, in the C-USA opener for both squads (Jan. 5), and are looking for their first season sweep in the series since 2013-14.

The Roadrunners have a 10-7 advantage in El Paso and have emerged victorious in three of their past four visits to the Don Haskins Center. The series dates to the 1980’s when both squads were members of the Oil Country Athletic Conference.

LAST MEETING WITH UTSA (UTEP 73, AT UTSA 60, 1/5/19)

Sophomore Alexa Hoy poured in a career-high 22 points off the bench to pace a trio of Miners in double figures as UTEP toppled UTSA, 73-60, on the road in the Conference USA opener for both squads inside the Convocation Center on Jan. 5. The first true road victory of the year for the Miners moves them to 11-3 all time in C-USA lidlifters.

The Roadrunners didn’t make it easy by bolting to a 10-point (22-12) lead early in the second quarter, but behind Hoy’s 12 points in the frame UTEP pulled even (30-30) at half. The Miners were up by two (49-47) before using a huge fourth quarter (24-13) to post the double-digit victory. Jordan Alexander (season-high 18 points) and Zuzanna Puc (15 points) joined Hoy in double figures for scoring while freshmen Ariana Taylor (eight points) and Sabine Lipe (seven points) also got after it.

UTEP crushed the Roadrunners, the top offensive-rebounding team in the league, on the boards (45-28), with Alexander snagging 11 rebounds to post her second double-double this season.

Lipe got involved as well by pulling down a career-best seven caroms. The Miners shot 45.3 percent (24-53) from the floor, including connecting on 8-20 (40.0 percent) from distance. UTEP shared the ball effectively, racking up 17 assists on its 24 field goals made. It was a different story for the home side, which was limited to 33.3 percent (22-66) shooting, including 22.7 percent (5-22) on 3-point tries.

But the story of the day was Hoy, who put on a show in front of her mom, aunt and grandmother. She nailed 7-12 from the floor, including 2-5 from distance. She also made 6-7 free throws, including 5-6 in the final frame, to help ice the contest.

UTEP Drops Tough Battle To Southern Miss at Home 64-63

UTEP shot 52.6 percent (20-38) from the floor, including nailing 10-17 from distance (58.8 percent), but it was a triple by Alarie Mayze of Southern Miss with 1.9 seconds left that proved decisive in a 64-63 setback for the UTEP women’s basketball team at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon.

“This team is just behind the eight ball, snake bitten, whatever phrase you want to use,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. ”We deserved to win this game. We made somebody make a 3-pointer who has made two all season. I’m proud of our team. We were exhausted before the game ever started. The fact that we came out and played as well as we did is just a testament to their character, but there are no moral victories in college basketball. You’ve got to close out games, and we haven’t done that how we needed to.”

It was a back-and-forth game featuring five ties and six lead changes, with the Miners (6-20, 3-10 C-USA) up by two with eight seconds left after an Ariona Gill free throw. The second free throw attempt rimmed out, and the Lady Eagles (15-11, 7-6 C-USA) got the rebound and raced down the court.

Shonte Hailes drove and then set up Mayze, who entered the contest 2-17 on 3-point shots this year, for the game winner. UTEP called timeout to advance the ball only to commit one of its 22 turnovers in the game to seal its fate.

In addition to shooting it extremely well, the Miners also won the boards (31-29) against the top rebounding team in C-USA. USM was able to overcome that by converting the 22 UTEP giveaways into 28 points while connecting on a solid 42.4 percent (29-59) from the floor. The Lady Eagles also enjoyed advantages for points in the paint (32-18) and second-chance points (13-5).

It marks the seventh home setback of the season by four points or less, including the third by a single digit. Moreover, it served as the seventh straight contest that injury-riddled UTEP has dressed just seven players.

Gill finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes, by far her best game since returning to the court from an injury. Jordan Alexander matched Gill with 14 points for her second straight double-digit scoring effort while Katarina Zec extended her double-figure scoring streak to seven by tallying 11 points.

USM was led by 11 points each by Respect Leaphart, Hailes and Amber Landing while Mayze finished with nine.

Southern Miss gave the Miners fits early on, jumping out to a 14-7 lead (5:40 1Q) midway through the stanza. UTEP started to settle down at both ends of the court, resulting in a 9-0 push that was capped by a Zec triple to give UTEP its first lead of the contests (16-14, 1:24 1Q). A jumper by the visitors halted the stretch but UTEP carried an 18-16 advantage through 10 minutes of action.

After USM forced the second tie of the tilt, the Miners started to rain triples by hitting three on three consecutive possessions to fuel a 9-0 surge in the blink of an eye. The result was a 27-18 advantage for the home side with 6:34 to play in the half, forcing a Lady Eagle timeout. It was back-and-forth the remainder of the quarter, with the Miners leading by seven (30-23) going into the locker room.

UTEP was a bit sluggish to start the third quarter, with USM capitalizing in the form of an 11-0 run over the first two-and-a-half minutes to surge into the lead (34-30). The Miners countered with five straight points to pull back only to have the Lady Eagles answer with six straight to spring back ahead. UTEP did well to not let it get out of hand, and it trailed by two (44-42) heading to the final frame.

UTEP continued to battle as the game moved into the final frame, eventually using a 6-0 surge to turn a 51-47 deficit into a 53-51 advantage with 3:21 to play. The Miners continued to lead by three (62-59) with 19 seconds left after two clutch free throws from Neidy Ocuane. USM’s Kelsey Jones got a bucket inside to cut it two and then fouled Gill with eight seconds left. She hit the first but misfired on the second and Landing rebounding. Without any timeouts USM’s Landing kicked it ahead to Hailes, who eventually found Mayze for the game-winning trey.

UTEP will have a bye on Thursday before wrapping up its three-game homestand against UTSA (1 p.m., Feb. 23). Admission is free for the celebration with “National Girls and Women in Sports Day” against the Roadrunners.

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Southern Miss Tops UTEP 77-47

HATTIESBURG, Ms. – UTEP freshman Efe Odigie (10 points, 14 rebounds) recorded his 11th double-double but Southern Miss jumped out to a big lead in the first half and never looked back as the Golden Eagles (17-9, 9-5 Conference USA) used hot shooting to top the Miners (8-17, 3-11 C-USA), 77-47, on Saturday afternoon in Reed Green Coliseum.

“That was definitely the challenge in the second half, was to come out and compete as hard as you could and try to win the second half,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We, obviously, couldn’t play as worse as we did in the first half. I thought our guys came out competed as hard as they could in the second half. We did a much better job.”

After being down by 42 points at halftime, the Miners outscored the Golden Eagles, 35-23 in the second half. UTEP shot over 44 percent in the second half and outrebounded its opponent, 25-11. Overall, the Miners outrebounded USM, 36-34.

UTEP, was down 71-21 at one point during the second half, but went on a 16-1 run and finished out the second period, outscoring USM, 26-6.

Gilles Dekoninck came off the bench, tallied 11 points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Dekoninck scored his first points since Dec. 1 and first points in league action. Nigel Hawkins, who continued his solid play on the road in C-USA games, scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. Hawkins shot 5-for-7 from the field and 3-of-5 from downtown. Ountae Campbell connected on a three-point bucket and tallied four boards. Campbell led the Miners with two steals, while he and Odigie led the team with a pair of assists apiece.

Southern Miss was led by LaDavius Draine’s 24 points, while Tyree Griffin scored 12 points and dished out eight assists.

Up next, C-USA will announce the times and dates for the remaining four games in C-USA “Bonus Play” Saturday night. UTEP is grouped with no. 11 Rice, no. 12 Middle Tennessee and no. 14 Charlotte.

The Miners will have home games against Rice and Middle Tennessee, and will play at Charlotte and Middle Tennessee.

UTEP Upended at Home By LA Tech 74-64

Katarina Zec tallied a season-high tying 19 points to pace a quartet of Miners in double figures but high-flying LA Tech toppled UTEP, 74-64, at the Don Haskins Center Thursday.

“I thought we did a lot of the things we wanted to do, but we just went through a run there (in the third quarter) where we didn’t hit the easy shots when we had them,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “It just really affected the whole complexion of the rest of the game. I’m disappointed that we lost, but in terms of what we were trying to do out there we did it.”

Kierra Anthony overcame foul problems to pour in 30 points in 28 minutes to lead the way for the Lady Techsters (14-11, 6-6 C-USA). The injury-riddled Miners (6-19, 3-9 C-USA) dressed only seven players for the sixth straight contest, and finished with five after two fouled out in the final minute.

UTEP easily controlled the boards (39-25) and shot a solid 44.4 percent (25-54), but LA Tech was even better on offense by nailing 48.1 percent (26-54) while also converting 21 UTEP giveaways into 18 points.

Ariana Taylor (13 points), Jordan Alexander (13 points) and Zuzanna Puc (10 points) joined Zec in double figures for scoring. Puc flirted with a double-double with nine boards while Alexander also got after it on glass by pulling down seven caroms. Alexander also dished out a team best and career-high tying five assists.

Grayson Bright (14 points), Brianna Harris (10 points) and Raizel Guinto (10 points) buoyed the efforts of Anthony, but she did the heavy lifting. It was especially apparent late, when Anthony scored 14 of her team’s 16 points in the fourth quarter to nearly match UTEP’s team output (15 points) in the frame.

UTEP came out firing, jumping out to a 11-5 advantage just three minutes into the game. Taylor was instrumental in the stretch, nailing a couple of triples. LA Tech countered with a 5-0 run to cut the Miner lead to one (11-10) midway through the frame. It was back-and-forth the rest of the quarter, with a late lay-up from Zec off a feed by Alexander giving the Miners a 23-22 advantage through 10 minutes of action.

Turnovers and some misfires hurt the Orange and Blue in the opening parts of the second quarter, which allowed the Lady Techsters to peel off eight straight points to start the frame.

The deficit remained seven (37-30) with 3:31 to play in the half before UTEP, taking advantage of both Anthony and Amber Dixon being stuck on the bench with foul trouble, did well go narrow the gap. The Miners pitched a shutout the rest of the period while getting a jumper from Alexander and a triple by Zec to whittle the margin down to two (37-35) heading into halftime.

The Orange and Blue continued to hang around, trailing by just three (46-43) halfway through the third quarter. LA Tech found another level, though, ripping off 10 straight points over the next two minutes to suddenly vault ahead by 13. UTEP misfired on a shot and committed two turnovers in the stretch, which included a rare four-point play for the visitors.

The Miners tried to regroup, whittling the deficit down to nine (58-49) heading to the fourth quarter but the damage had been done. UTEP continued to battle as the half wore on, but could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

UTEP will continue its three-game homestand when it locks up against Southern Miss in the pink “Play4Kay” game for breast cancer awareness at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. Ticket prices are $3 for youth and $5 for adults, and are available by calling 747-5234.

The Miners will then wrap up the stay in El Paso by challenging UTSA (1 p.m., Feb. 23). Admission is free for the celebration with “National Girls and Women in Sports Day” against the Roadrunners.

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LA Tech Uses Late Threes to Down UTEP 71-57

RUSTON, La. – UTEP freshman Efe Odigie recorded his 10th career double-double after scoring 16 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, but LA Tech’s Daquan Bracey scored a game-high 28 points as his Bulldogs (16-10, 6-7 Conference USA) defeated the Miners (8-16, 3-10 C-USA), 71-57, on Thursday night in Thomas Assembly Center.

“[LA Tech] hit a couple of big shots and we had opportunities as well that we didn’t take advantage of down the stretch,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But I give them credit with those big shots.”

With 3:58 remaining in the contest, Odigie made a jumper to get the Miners within three points (56-53).

But the Bulldogs put the game away after they answered with back-to-back three-point buckets by Jacolby Pemerton and Amorie Archibald with 2:41 left and a 62-53 lead.

UTEP took an early seven-point lead in the first half, but could never regain the lead after the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run to take a 16-11 advantage.

Jordan Lathon chipped in with 10 points and Kobe Magee tallied nine points on a trio of treys, while leading the Miners with six assists. Kaosi Ezeagu, who made his second consecutive start, contributed with four points and six rebounds. Odigie shot 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe.

LA Tech took a 37-30 lead coming out of the tunnel off a Daquan Bracey bucket. But the Miners fought back to tie the contest at 37-37. Kaosi Ezeagu threw down a dunk, while Lathon hit a jumper and Magee a three.

After LA Tech took a 43-38 lead, Nigel Hawkins connected on his first bucket of the game, a three pointer at the 14:25 mark to get his squad within three points (43-41).

LA Tech would build its biggest lead (50-42), but Odigie ended a 5-0 run on a jumper in the paint off an assist by Hawkins. Lathon then stole the ball on the Bulldogs’ next possession, passed the ball to Hawkins, who almost threw down a thunderous dunk but did draw the foul. Hawkins made both free throws to make the count 50-46 with just over 10 minutes in regulation.

UTEP jumped out to an 11-4 lead after back-to-back threes from Thomas and Magee 16 minutes into the first period. The Miners started by making their first trio of three-point attempts. Lathon connected on the first one for the contest’s first points.

The Bulldogs, however, would answer with 12-0 run. UTEP would tie the game on a trio of occasions. Odigie made the score 23-23 after a bucket in the paint (5:41), Lathon hit his second trey of the half to make the count 28-28 (2:19) and Odigie tied the game again (30-30) on a layup with 1:35 remaining.

The Bulldogs scored the next five points, led by Bracey’s three points to take a 35-30 halftime lead.

LA Tech shot 4-of-11 from the free-throw line, while UTEP was a perfect 3-for-3. The Bulldogs, despite the struggles at the line, shot 56.0 percent (14-25) from the field to the Miners’ 36.7 percent.

Up next, UTEP will travel to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss on Saturday. The Miners and Golden Eagles are set to tipoff at 1 p.m. MT/2 CT in Reed Green Coliseum. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.

Gallery+Story: UTEP Downs Florida International 85-75

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

UTEP Downs FIU 60-55 for Second Straight Win

MIAMI, Fl. – Zuzanna Puc (19 points), Katarina Zec (16 points) and Neidy Ocuane (career-high tying 14 points), all had big days to help the UTEP women’s basketball team grind out a 60-55 win at FIU Saturday afternoon.

“I’m really proud of this team. We are truly seven strong,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “Today was a tough match-up; they battled us the whole way. FIU has a lot of veterans and they’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the year. I just really like the way we’re playing right now. We’re playing good, competitive winning basketball right now.”

The Miners’ (6-18, 3-8 C-USA) second straight win secured the sweep on the trip to the “Sunshine State,” with UTEP having posted its second-biggest road conference win in program history (70-44) at FAU (2/7/19) just two days prior.

It is the first road sweep in league play for UTEP in three years (wins at Southern Miss and at LA Tech in Feb. 2016), but the Panthers (4-20, 1-10 C-USA) didn’t make it easy.

FIU jumped out by five (7-2) midway through the opening frame. The Miners countered by wrapping a 16-7 run around the quarter break to surge into the lead (18-14), one they would never relinquish. UTEP countered every Panthers’ push and survived some serious foul trouble to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since starting the season at 2-0.

Making the feat even more impressive is that UTEP dressed just seven players for the fifth consecutive contest. It also navigated through Puc and Ariana Taylor both picking up their fourth foul of the contest with more than seven minutes to play in regulation.

Overall the Miners were ahead or tied for 32 minutes in the contest, including being up by as many as nine (32-23) early in the third quarter. FIU’s biggest advantage was five, but it didn’t hold a lead after the first quarter.

Puc poured in 17 in her points in the opening half before being saddled with foul trouble. She had 10 alone in the first quarter, helping keep UTEP in the game (12-12) before her other teammates got things going.

Zec had 10 of her 16 after the break, while Ocuane had eight of 14 in the stretch as well. Jordan Alexander finished with six points and six points in 34 gritty minutes while Jade Rochelle pulled down five rebounds and sank two free throws. Ariona Gill chipped in two points and four boards and Taylor had three assists, three rebounds and a key free throw late.

UTEP registered 12 assists on its 18 made field goals, including a team-high five helpers from Zec. The Miners excelled at the charity stripe, making 16-20, while also winning the rebounding battle (36-30). Puc recorded a team-best nine rebounds while Alexander (six), Zec (six) and Rochelle (five) also got after it on the glass.

UTEP also defended well, holding FIU to 36.4 percent shooting (20-55). The Panthers were paced by Paula Orenes (game-high 21 points), who made 5-of-12 from distance. She was buoyed by the double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) of Ce’Nara Skanes.

FIU scored the first four points of the game on the way to leading by five (7-2) with 5:14 to play in the opening quarter. UTEP started to battle back behind the play of Puc. The Miners finished the quarter on a 10-5 push to pull even (12-12) through 10 minutes of action. Puc was simply sensational in the quarter, accounting for 10 of UTEP’s 12 points in the period. She was 4-5 in the quarter, including 2-2 of distance, to single-handily keep the Miners in the contest.

Ocuane got herself going early in the second quarter, hitting triples on consecutive possessions to conclude the 16-7 run wrapped around the quarter break. The two sides traded scores over the next several minutes, with the Orange and Blue clinging to a two-point advantage (23-21) with 3:18 left in the half after a layup from the Panthers’ Skanes. UTEP created some much-needed space by closing the period on a 7-2 surge to carry a seven-point lead (30-23) into the locker room. Fittingly Puc provided five of the points, including a triple to beat the buzzer, putting her at 17 points over the opening 20 minutes.

UTEP scored on its opening possession of the third quarter, affording it the aforementioned nine-point cushion (32-23). The Panthers battled back, whittling the deficit down to four (42-38) late in the quarter before Gill sank a pair of free throws to give the Miners a bit of breathing room (44-38) heading to the final frame. Twice FIU inched within three in the final quarter, but UTEP didn’t let the Panthers get any closer.

The Miners will lock up with LA Tech on Valentine’s Day (2/14) at 7 p.m. MT Thursday. The game is the first of three straight and four of five in El Paso to close out the regular season. The contest 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). Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5722.

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Gallery+Story: Florida Atlantic Shoots Past Miners 61-48

Florida Atlantic’s Anthony Adger scored a game-high 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting from three-point range and the Owls (14-10, 5-6 Conference USA) took care of UTEP (7-15, 2-9 C-USA), 61-48 on Thursday night in the Haskins Center.

“When you’re not making shots you really have to try and defend hard, and you have to try and take away what the other team does really well,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew coming into this game that these guys were a really good shooting team. We let one guy get off to a great start, and when you do that with a guy who is their leading scorer, and you let him get comfortable then the basket becomes a really big basket for him.”

The story was FAU, which shot 13-for-26 from beyond the arc, while the Miners turned the ball over 15 times and shot 28.3 percent from the field.

Nigel Hawkins led the Miners with 12 points, the only double-digit scorer and Efe Odigie pulled down 10 rebounds and chipped in with seven points. Paul Thomas and Jordan Lathon each added eight points and combined for nine rebounds. Lathon led the team with a pair of blocked shots.

After being down 14 points, the Miners climbed back to within six points (42-36) at the 12:13 mark on an Evan Gilyard made a jumper. But the Owls kept hitting treys during the second period to keep the score in double figures for the majority of the half.

Gilyard, after coming off the bench the previous two games, made his 17th start of the season and scored four points. He didn’t connect on a three pointer for the first time in 17 games.

UTEP outrebounded Florida Atlantic, 38-37, and recorded four blocked shots. Kobe Magee came off the bench and scored five points with four rebounds in 36 minutes. Kaosi Ezeagu recorded four points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.

During the first period, FAU connected on 7-of-15 from beyond the arc, while taking an 11-point lead a trio of times, including a 30-19 lead at halftime. Adger led the way with 11 points on a 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range.

After being down 15-4, the Miners cut that deficit to five points (17-12) after Odigie and Lathon connected on back-to-back buckets, Magee nailed a three and a Hawkins’s made free throw.

The Miners committed eight turnovers and only shot 23.1 percent during the first half.

Up Next, the Miners will host FIU on Saturday, as tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday’s contest will feature the Block Cancer initiative, in which The Mike Slive Foundation partnered with C-USA and UTEP.

The Miners will wear blue Block Cancer t-shirts in pregame, while coach Terry will wear a special blue tie. During the game, fans will see signage and videos that focus on increasing awareness for prostate cancer. Fans will also have the opportunity to donate by texting GIVE to (855) 662-2996, or online at mikeslivefoundation.org

Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post

UTEP Flattens FAU On The Road 70-44

BOCA RATON, Fl. – UTEP bolted out to its largest halftime lead (21 points; 35-14) in a league game in 10 years and never looked back on the way to posting a wire-to-wire 70-44 win at Florida Atlantic Thursday.

The 26-point triumph matches the biggest margin of victory in the Kevin Baker era.

“We’ll take this win. This (stretch) has been tough on the kids but they’ve kept fighting,” Baker said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They’re making better decisions, taking better shots and making more shots obviously. I was proud of how we gutted out the second half. I’m just proud of them and their resiliency. They’re learning how to fight and they’re learning how to play better basketball.”

The Miners (5-18, 2-8 C-USA) held the Owls (4-19, 1-9 C-USA) to the lowest field-goal percentage (24.5 percent) by a conference foe since former league member Tulsa shot 20.6 percent on Jan. 31, 2013. There were no such woes for UTEP, which eclipsed 50.0 percent (52.0 percent) shooting from the floor for the second consecutive contest.

he Miners were particularly locked in over the final three quarters, combining to go 21-36 (58.3 percent) in that time frame.

Zuzanna Puc (18 points), Katarina Zec (16 points) and Ariana Taylor (11 points) all reached double figures in scoring for the short-handed Miners, who dressed just seven players for the fourth consecutive contest. Jordan Alexander pitched in nine points while Jade Rochelle notched eight points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Neidy Ocuane contributed across the board, with six points, a career-high six rebounds and a personal-best tying five assists.

The 44 points allowed establish an opponent season low, while the Orange and Blue also recorded a campaign-high 10 steals. UTEP pounded FAU down low, piling up 44 points (to just 14 allowed) in the paint, while also finishing a robust 16-19 from the charity stripe. The Miners won the boards (39-29), and also held an 11-5 edge in second-chance points.

The outcome snaps an eight-game skid for the Miners while also propelling them into sole possession of 11th place in C-USA. FAU, FIU and UTSA sit in a three-way tie for 12th place at 1-9 in the league, but the Miners now have wins over both UTSA and FAU on the season.

The top-12 finishes in league play will qualify for the 2019 C-USA Championships.

UTEP scored the first eight points of the game before FAU answered with back-to-back baskets to cut the lead in half. The two sides traded buckets in the waning minutes of the stanza, with the Miners holding a 12-6 advantage through 10 minutes of action. A big factor in the start was holding FAU to 1-14 shooting from the floor in the frame.

The Miners continued to get after it as the half progressed, particularly defensively, by keeping FAU to just 2-14 from the field in the second quarter. At the other end of the court UTEP started to get into a rhythm. The payoff was a 12-0 run to start the frame, which helped the Miners eventually outscore FAU by 15 (23-8) in the period to secure the aforementioned 21-point advantage (35-14) at the half.

It marked the largest halftime cushion in a conference contest for the Orange and Blue since they were up by 24 (55-31) against Southern Miss on Feb. 21, 2009.

UTEP continued to play well in the second half, answering every push by FAU and never letting the home side back into the contest. The Miners’ largest lead was 29 (70-41, 2:06 4Q), which equals their biggest advantage of the campaign.

UTEP will wrap up its stay in the “Sunshine State” when it plays at FIU at 12 p.m. MT/2 p.m. ET on Saturday. Brandon Cohn will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso.

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Shooting Woes Sting Miners as WKU Tops UTEP 76-59

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.

Tickets, starting at $8, are available by calling (915) 747-5234. Student tickets are available online.

WKU Edges UTEP at the Don 64-61

Zuzanna Puc produced her second straight double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Katarina Zec tallied a season-high 19 points but visiting WKU slipped past UTEP 64-61, at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon.

“One of the coolest things about this team is that they’ve had every excuse to lay down and not play well, but they seem to be doing the opposite,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “What an impressive group of young ladies to be around. I want a win for these guys. I’m super proud of them. We made some big mistakes (late). We’re kind of an unlucky team right now.”

Raneem Elgedawy (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Dee Givens (26 points) combined for 53 of the Lady Toppers’ (14-9, 8-1 C-USA) 64 points in the game, which helped them offset the Miners (4-18, 1-8 C-USA) shooting 52.5 percent from the floor (21-40) and also winning the boards (32-26).

Another factor was UTEP’s 23 turnovers, which led to 25 points by the visitors. It was a wild game with big runs from both sides, in addition to seven ties and eight lead changes.

After wrapping a 27-5 run around the quarter break to erase a game-opening 12-2 surge by WKU, UTEP looked to be in good shape in spite of only dressing seven players for the third straight contest. The Miners were up by six (36-30) at the half, and still led by five with three minutes remaining in regulation.

WKU went to work at the charity stripe while getting a couple of stops to inch within two (59-57), but Alexis Brewer’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 44 seconds left spun out. Zec got the board only to pressured and have Givens come away with the steal.

Givens was fouled and she hit the first free throw to make it 59-58. She missed the second but somehow got her own rebound before being fouled again. This time she hit both, putting the visitors ahead (60-59) with 36 seconds to play.

UTEP didn’t flinch, getting a basket on a driving lay-up from Ariona Gill with 15 seconds left to regain the lead (61-60). The visitors called timeout to advance the ball, and Elgedawy got loose inside for the jumper to put her side back up by one (62-61) with 10 seconds left.

The Miners were out of timeouts and unfortunately a pass from Ariana Taylor sailed out of bounds with five seconds remaining. UTEP fouled Givens, who made both free throws. The Miners heaved it deep and connected with Jade Rochelle, but her desperation 3-pointer to tie it from the top of the arch fell short as WKU escaped. It marked the second straight home loss by three points for the Miners.

Taylor supported Zec and Puc with nine points on a perfect shooting day (3-3 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT) while Jordan Alexander added six points and five boards. UTEP was nearly flawless at the charity stripe (16-19) and actually outscored the WKU bench (6-2) despite having only two reserves available.

The Lady Toppers were held to 39.7 percent (23-58), in large part to finishing just 3-23 (13.0 percent) on 3-point attempts. Whitney Creech pitched in six points and six assists to buoy Elgedawy and Givens, but no one else on the squad had more than three points.

WKU scored the first six points of the game on the way to leading by 10 (12-2) with 4:56 to play in the first quarter. UTEP would not wilt away, but instead regrouped and stuck back in a big way. The Miners tallied the final 10 points of the frame to pull even (12-12) through 10 minutes. It was quite a feat, considering UTEP had eight of its eventual 23 giveaways in the frame.

After the two sides traded baskets over the first couple of minutes of the second quarter, the Lady Toppers held a slim 17-16 advantage. UTEP kicked it into high gear, peeling off 12 straight points to lead by 12 (29-17) with 3:45 to play in the half. Zec and Puc combined for 10 of the 12 points in the stretch.

WKU countered with five in a row but a Zec jumper halted it. It was back and forth over the final couple of minutes, allowing the Miners to lead by six (36-30) heading into halftime. The margin was still six (47-41) through three quarters before the Lady Toppers pulled off the rally by outscoring the Orange and Blue by nine (23-14) in the final frame.

UTEP will head to the Eastern Time Zone for the second time in three weeks when it plays at Florida Atlantic at 5 p.m. MT/7 p.m. ET on Feb. 7.

The Miners will conclude their stay in the “Sunshine State” when they lock up with FIU at 12 p.m. MT/2 p.m. ET on Feb. 9. Brandon Cohn will have the call for both on 600 ESPN El Paso.

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Marshall Outlasts UTEP at the Don 63-60

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.

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Marshall Shoots Past UTEP 91-86

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.

UTEP Beats Charlotte at the Don 57-53

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

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