Bortley late three-pointer holds off Miners late rally

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

The wavelength of emotions went from unmitigated jubilance when junior guard C.J. Cooper hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to a shocked, collapsed feeling of heartbreak when Florida Atlantic’s freshman guard Marquan Botley hit a three-point bank shot with 2.2 seconds remaining to give the Owls the win.

In the last play of the game Cooper took a shot from mid-court that bounced off the front off the rim.

“They are very disciplined offensively. They used great shot selection for the entire game and made us guard for long periods of time. They took the shot clock down and made us pay at the end of clocks,” said head coach Tim Floyd. “Tonight they made their threes.”

The loss ended the Miners’ eight-game winning streak and now stand at 18-7 overall with an 8-2 conference record.

This game saw the Miners go down by as much as 20 points early in the second half. The Miners made a 17-3 run inside the final five minutes of the game to take the lead with only 12 seconds left but it wasn’t enough.

Florida Atlantic shot 52 percent from the field and made 10 of the 20 three-point shots attempted. No player on each team reached double digit rebounds. The Miners shot poorly in the first half only hitting 36 percent, but came back to shoot 57 percent in the second half.

The Miners were No. 11 in the nation in three-point field goal defense coming into the game.

“Of course it’s bad to lose, but one positive thing that we did learn is that we can come back from any type of deficit,” said senior center John Bohannon. “The kid made a good shot. I’m very proud of team. We showed heart. It shows we can dig ourselves out of a hole.”

The Miners had four players in double figures Vince Hunter 18, John Bohannon 16, Julian Washburn 16, C.J. Cooper 15.

In the exciting comeback the Miners pulled off, they forced back-to-back 10-second half-court violations followed by a travel violation from the Owls that allowed UTEP to have a chance to win the game.

“I want to give that team a lot of credit,” said junior forward Julian Washburn. “I’m happy with my team. I’m glad we were able to come back. Next game on Saturday we are going to come out with a lot more intensity.”

With Southern Mississippi dropping a game tonight against Alabama-Birmingham, the Miners are in a four-way tie for first place with Louisiana Tech, Southern Mississippi and Middle Tennessee State.

UTEP will face be against Florida International on Saturday on their second to last home game of the regular season.

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Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected]