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Souley Boum - photo by Jon Washington

UTEP dominates Old Dominion 74-64 to advance To C-USA Quarterfinals

FRISCO, Texas – UTEP’s Souley Boum (21 points), Keonte Kennedy (17 points), Jamal Bieniemy (13 points) and Tydus Verhoeven (12 points) all reached double figures in scoring as the Miner men’s basketball team knocked off Old Dominion in a wire-to-wire 74-64 victory in the second round of the 2022 Heritage Landscape Supply Group Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championships at the Star Wednesday evening.

The win is the first for the Miners (19-12) in Frisco and the initial at the league championships since 2017. In 2017 UTEP defeated Rice, 86-76, which was the year before the tournament moved to “The Star” in Frisco, Texas.

It will now advance to challenge the top seed from the East Division, Middle Tennessee, in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. MT./8 p.m. CT on Thursday.

The Miners shot 49.1 percent from the floor (28-57), including 39.1 percent (9-23) from beyond-the-arc. At the other end of the court the Orange and Blue kept the Monarchs (13-19) to 40.0 percent (26-65), including 2-15 (13.3 percent) from 3-point range. UTEP took good care of the ball with 12 turnovers.

Verhoeven flirted with a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds. Bieniemy ran the offense effectively with seven of UTEP’s 12 assists. Jamari Sibley came off the bench to provide seven points and four rebounds. Ze’rik Onyema recorded four points and four rebounds in his first career start.

The Miners led by as many as 19 in the game (62-43, 5:07 2H), and carried a double-digit cushion for the final 30 minutes of action.

“Credit and respect to Old Dominion. I’m just really happy for our players” Golding said. “We’ve been through a lot this year and we’ve checked the box on a lot of things. It’s been a long time since UTEP has won in the conference tournament and obviously never in Frisco. I know our guys felt that. For them to come out and get it, I’m just so happy for our locker room.

“We’ve got a special team,” Golding said. “I’m just really proud, from day one our guys have let us coach them and (it’s great) for them to get rewarded tonight.”

UTEP raced out to a 7-0 lead four minutes into the game behind an alley-oop from Bieniemy to Onyema, a hook shot by Verhoeven and a triple from Boum. After ODU cut it down to five (9-4), Kennedy buried a triple to put the Miners up by eight (12-4) with 14:20 to play in the first half.

The Monarchs worked it down to a five-point cushion (14-9) before UTEP came alive with eight straight points to vault out by 13 (22-9, 8:37 1H) and force an ODU timeout. The Miners got baskets from four different players to fuel the run.

It was a 12-point advantage before Kennedy buried a corner trey to beat the shot clock buzzer and Boum scooped a lay-up off the glass to put the Miners up by 17 (34-17) with 1:53 to play in the opening period. ODU made a little push late in the stanza, but UTEP still led by 13 (34-21) heading into halftime.

The Miners opened up the second half on a 11-6 run over the first five minutes en route to extending the lead to out to 18 (45-27). Included in the stretch were back-to-back post finishes courtesy of Verhoeven. The advantage remained 18 (59-41, 7:49) after Bieniemy found Sibley in transition for the dunk. UTEP controlled it down the stretch, never letting the Monarchs back into the game.

The Miners will now turn their attention to a showdown in the quarterfinals with Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m. MT/8 p.m. CT Thursday. Jon Teicher (41st year) and Steve Yellen (19th year) will be on the call on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso for the game against Middle Tennessee. It will also be streamed on Stadium.

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