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Miners stumble at home, lose to La Tech

Sophomore+forward+Vince+Hunter+struggles+to+protect+ball+from+Bulldog+defenders.+
Michaela Román
Sophomore forward Vince Hunter struggles to protect ball from Bulldog defenders.

It was a tie ball game at half time and then UTEP scored just 12 points in the second half on their way to their first conference loss of the season. Louisiana Tech’s Raheem Appleby scored 22 points and the Bulldogs beat the Miners 58-45 tonight at the Don Haskins Center.

“I thought they were much more aggressive,” said Miner head coach Tim Floyd. “They were clearly better than we were here tonight.”

It was a very tight first half with the top two defensive teams in Conference USA battling it out on the floor at the Haskins Center. The Miners got their first lead of the game seven minutes into the game on a Julian Washburn jumper that put UTEP ahead 13-12.

The lead was short lived, as the Bulldogs would go on a 16-5 run during the eight minutes that followed. UTEP’s struggles on the defensive board helped fuel Tech’s offense, at one point giving up an offensive rebound on three straight Bulldog possessions that resulted in nine points for the visiting squad.

“(They) had an energy look that we didn’t present on the other end, they just went back and ponded us on the glass,” Floyd said.

Down by 10 with just over four minutes remaining in the half the Miners shot their way back into the game. Three straight three-point shots, including one to beat the buzzer, capped a 15-5 Miner run to end the half and tied the score up at 33 going into the break. UTEP shot 50 percent in the first half and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

“It’s always a troublesome stat when you’re at halftime and you’re shooting 50 percent and you’re in a tie game with a team shooting 37,” Floyd said. “That means they’re doing other things, they’re turning you over and rebounding.”

After a first 20 minutes of good shooting from UTEP, the Miners could not buy a bucket in the second half.

They took the lead momentarily to start the final period at 35-33, but after trading a few more baskets the Bulldogs regained control on the scoreboard and never looked back. Louisiana Tech outscored the Miners 21-8 during the final 14 and a half minutes.

Appleby himself outscored the whole Miner squad with his 10-second half points, which he scored all after that point.

“I really don’t think we’ll shoot the ball this bad again, to be honest,” Washburn said. “La Tech is a great team, but I kind of feel we missed a lot of easy shots.”

Among the few bright spots for UTEP on the night was the fact that it held a team that is averaging 76.4 points per game, including the recent 83-point performance against Southern Miss, to just 58. Also, sophomore guard Vince Hunter recorded his 10th double-double of the season, leading the Miners in scoring and rebounding with 16 and 11, respectively.

Floyd’s men will have an opportunity at redemption later in the year when they face the Bulldogs on their home court in late February, but they can worry about that when the time comes. Now they must turn their attention to Saturday’s matchup with the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss who come into town on Saturday night.

“We have to forget about this game,” Washburn said. “We’ll have our chance to play them again but we have to get focused for Saturday and make sure we get that win.”

Led by former UTEP coach Doc Sadler the Golden Eagles have started the conference season winless and are on an unflattering five-game losing streak. Although they lost their conference opener against Louisiana Tech and just got blown out at UTSA, Coach Floyd knows Saturday’s contest will not be easy.

“I know Doc, and Doc’s a good coach and he’ll have his guys playing hard,” Floyd said. “They’re gonna come in here with great effort, we know that it will be tough.”

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michaela Román
Michaela Román, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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Miners stumble at home, lose to La Tech