The UTEP Miners Men’s Basketball Team held the lead over the course of the entire second half to defeat the North Carolina Central Eagles 70-61 in the opening round of the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
The Miners had to obtain their seventh victory of the season without their leading scorer Souley Boum who was out due to what is believed to be food poisoning. Boum was not the only player affected. Ze’rik Oneyema and Cam Clardy also did not dress for tonights’ game. Alfred Hollins and Christian Agnew also had symptoms but were on the bench, only Agnew saw any action.
With the win the Miners have positioned themselves to win the 60th edition of the tournament named after the Legendary Don Haskins for the 33rd time.
Here’s what happened
- The first five minutes set the pace for what was a highly energetic first half. The visiting Eagles would jump out to a 10-9 lead approximately five minutes into the contest. A few minutes later they led the miners 16-9 as a result of a 12-2 run over the span of three minutes and 13 seconds.
- UTEP retook the lead with 7:38 left in the half when Keonte Kennedy hit from three-point range making the score 20-19. Kennedy’s three was part of the 7-0 scoring run for UTEP over the course of 2 minutes and 16 seconds. The first half ended with the Miners leading 32-26.
- Less than five minutes into the second half the Miners would take their largest lead of the game, 42-30 as a result of a couple of free throw series. However, it would not take long before North Carolina Central would cut that lead in half.
- The Miners would work diligently on both ends of the floor to go back up by double digits with less than two minutes left in the contest. The final buzzer came with UTEP being victorious by the final score of 70-61.
- Kenonte Kennedy had a career high 27 points while Christain Agnew had a season high 16 points.
What was said
After the game both Kennedy and Agnew echo the same sentiments as for the team’s performance. They both acknowledged that the team continues to overcome adversity and that is only making them stronger.
As for their 44% shooting effort, Kenedy said, “Our shot selection has been pretty good all year long, we had a lot of in and out earlier in the year, but now they are starting to fall because we have been staying with our routine since the summer.”
Head coach Joe Golding elaborated on the current state of health for his team. “They diagnosed it this morning as food poisoning and hopefully it’s food poisoning and not a virus. So we had three players that weren’t able to make it today because of that (Boum, Clardy and Onyema), Saucey (Agnew) and Alfred have it as well.
As for tonight’s improved shooting Golding broke down the things his team did tonight in order to improve in that area of the Miners execution. Golding said, “I thought we made some extra passes, I thought we drove the ball a little bit better, got the ball in the paint. We tried to spread them out a little bit more and we trusted each other a little bit better tonight.”
The Miners will have a 22-hour turnaround prior to facing the Bradley Braves in a championship game tomorrow night.
The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m tipoff, but will officially tipoff 30 minutes after the 3rd place game between Sam Houston St. and North Carolina Central ends.
Author: Joe Rodriguez
Rodriguez is a life long El Pasoan. Joe has covered sports locally across the Borderland since 2007 for various media outlet both in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez as a personal passion as he is a professional in the world of healthcare (Physiatry). His favorite sports include soccer, auto racing, golf and horse racing.”