UTEP Miners stampeded by Thundering Herd 71-61 for fifth straight loss

UTEP+forwards+Tydus+Verhoeven+and+Bryson+Williams+fight+for+the+rebound+versus+Marshall+Sat%2C+Feb.15+at+the+Don+Haskins+Center.

Michael Cuviello

UTEP forwards Tydus Verhoeven and Bryson Williams fight for the rebound versus Marshall Sat, Feb.15 at the Don Haskins Center.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners continued its winless February as they were outhustled and outscored by the visiting Marshall Thundering Herd in a 71-61 loss at the Don Haskins Center. 

Losing its fifth straight game, the Miners fell to 13th place in Conference-USA (C-USA) and limp into bonus play having to play its way back into tournament contention. Placed into a fourteam bracket with Rice, Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee State, UTEP will have to win at least three of four games to control its own destiny. The good news is that UTEP is undefeated against those three teams, the bad news is Southern Miss and Rice have played much better as of late. 

Starting off strong in the early going, the Miners took an 11-3 lead off a Bryson Williams dunk with 14 minutes left in the first half. A 10 point run from Marshall erased that lead by the eight-minute mark. From that point on, the Miners would never see itself in the lead.  

Both teams were turnover plagued throughout the first half but Marshall’s superior 3point shooting built a 10point halftime edge shooting 50% from that range off 18 shots. Statistically, the Miners are a small fraction above the worst 3-point shooting team in conference, although it is not from lack of attempts. Marshall was ranked just above UTEP in that category coming into the game but made it look effortless in the first half. 

At halftime, Williams had scored 9 points, while Souley Boum added 8 of the team’s total of 26 points. The Herd’s leading scorer guard Jarrod West had been held to 3 points but 6-9 forward Mikel Beyers took up the slack, scoring 16 points in the half. Over the past three games Beyers has been on a tear averaging 17 points per game shooting 60% from the 3point line. 

Our guys, had great urgency early in the game, but not so stellar play from guards as far as not making good decisions with the ball,” Head Coach Rodney Terry said. We didn’t do a great job early in the first half (guarding the 3 point play).  

Early in the second half, Williams scored six straight points to close the Miners’ deficit to six points. Quickly killing that momentum was another 3 pointer from the Herd that took the lead back up to double digits with 16 minutes remaining in the game. 

The closest the Miners could get the rest of the game was 7 points twice as the Herd showed it wanted the game more, especially on the defensive end. Marshall’s 3point prowess in the first half was brought  down to earth in the second half. The Miners outside shooting was even worse, hitting only 2 of 10 shots from the 3 point range.. Turnovers were also cut in half for both teams in the second half while UTEP quickly went into the bonus but was unable to take much advantage of it. 

Starters Williams, Boum and Darryl Edwards played all but two minutes of the game. All three players scored in double digits while Williams led the way with 23 points. Boum led the Miners in rebounds with 10, Williams had six. Sophomore Tyus Verhoeven led the team in steals with four, matching a career high. 

No other player from the Miners scored more than 5 points and Miners’ bench was outscored 31-3, all from Efe Odigie. The Miners were also unable to take advantage of early foul trouble from the Herd’s leading scorer in the game Beyers, who was limited to nine minutes in the second half. 

“When you have to move your rotation around that means you don’t have consistent guys that can play the position they need to play. (We) are still searching even in February to find that. That’s really hard and  you can only address that (during) recruiting. We have to improve our shooting and guard play,” Terry said. 

UTEP has lost its last three games at home while starting the year, winning its first nine games at the Don Haskins. Overall, since the spring semester has begun, the Miners are 3-10 after starting 10-4. 

The Miners await word on where and whom they play next. Sunday C-USA will announce the bonus play schedule with UTEP for UTEP’s next game Saturday, Feb. 23. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected] 

Cutlines 

Marshall forward Mikel Beyers drives past UTEP defenders to an easy layup Saturday Feb. 15. 

UTEP senior Darryl Edwards goes up to defend jump shot from Marshall’s Taevion Kinsey Saturday Feb. 15. 

UTEP forwards Tydus Verhoeven and Bryson Williams fight for rebound underneath Miners basket versus Marshall Saturday, Feb.15.