UTSA hands UTEP sixth straight loss

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Gaby Velasquez

Matt Willms finished the game with a team-high 12 points in a 63-59 loss to visiting UTSA.

Adrian Broaddus, Copy Editor

Four Roadrunners shot in double-figures and held the Miners to shooting just 36 percent from the floor (18-50), resulting in a 63-59 win for UTSA at the Don Haskins Center on Saturday night.

Guard Deon Lyle, Byron Frohnen, Giovnni De Nicolao and Jhivvan Jackson combined for 50 points, scoring 18, 12, 10 and 10 points, respectively. The Miners simply were outplayed over the Roadrunners all night and couldn’t close in the end.

The Miners (7-17, 2-10 C-USA) have now lost six games in a row and nine of their last ten.

“When you lose a bunch of games, your confidence is shot,” said interim head coach Phil Johnson. “Proud we shot 34 free throws, but we missed 18. You make five, you win the game. Got into the bonus early… but we didn’t make free throws.”

In the first half, the Miners and Roadrunners traded off blow for blow, and UTSA came out with a 31-28 lead at the break, with both teams shooting 33 percent from the floor.

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UTEP found success on the 3-point arc in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers in the half. Problem was, UTSA themselves hit five 3-pointers in the first half, but shot just 28 percent (5-18) from beyond the arc.

Freshman guard Kobe Magee and guard Evan Gilyard started the game, as Omega Harris came off the bench for the first time in 57 contests. Working themselves back into the lineup and rotation were senior center Matt Willms and freshman forward Tirus Smith.

To close out the half, both teams were scoreless for nearly four minutes, and UTSA broke away at the end of the half with the three point lead.

Then, out of the half, the Miners got into the bonus early, but missed 13 of the 23  free throws attempted. On the other end, however, UTSA found success from the 3-point arc, hitting 71 percent of their shots. Also, they outshot the Miners on the floor, 48 percent to 39 percent.

“Not that we didn’t play hard, it’s just we didn’t play effectively,” Johnson said. “I don’t like it but that’s gonna happen—you’re gonna have bad shooting nights.”

It was also an ineffective night for most of the Miners shooters. Willms led the way with 12 points, followed by Paul Thomas and Kobe Magee with 11 each. Evan Gilyard and Isaiah Osborne made less than five points and Harris was held scoreless on the night. They found their success in the paint, where they scored 16 points, but were out-rebounded 48-35.

Next up, the Miners will go on the road to take on Charlotte and Old Dominion next week. The Miners, who sit in at No. 12 in C-USA, are trying to keep their C-USA tournament hopes alive.

“Our goal is to get into the tournament,” Johnson said. “We have six games left. Hopefully we have enough fight in us.”