UTEP storms back from 19 down versus Rice, Edwards has career night

UTEP+senior+guard+Darryl+Edwards+drives+to+basket++en+route+to+scoring+a+career+high+34+points+versus+Rice+Saturday%2C+Feb.+22.

Michael Cuviello

UTEP senior guard Darryl Edwards drives to basket en route to scoring a career high 34 points versus Rice Saturday, Feb. 22.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP men’s basketball team overcame its worst first half of the season, scoring a season low 19 points versus the Rice Owls in the opening round of bonus play to pull a  68-62 victory from defeat. Coming into this game as a must win for the Miners, the team played as uninspired a half as fans have seen from this team.

A little over halfway through the first half the Miners would find it selves down by double digits being out shot, out rebounded and out hustled by Rice. For the majority of the first 25 minutes, the Miners were playing with no sense of urgency and very little offensive or defensive cohesion.

At this very point is when senior graduate transfer Darryl Edwards took the game on his back and scored three 3-pointers in a row cutting the Rice lead to 7 points in a matter of one minute. In a span of one minute and 12 seconds, the Miners hit five 3-pointers in a row en route to erasing a 19-point lead. Four minutes after trailing by 19, the Miners tied the game with another Edwards three.

With five minutes left in the game, both teams were separated by one point, Edwards hit his sixth consecutive 3-pointer of the game to give the Miners a four-point lead. Sophomore Souley Boum then proceeded to hit his second 3 pointer of the half to take the Miners to a comfortable lead of seven points.

From that point on the Miners took advantage of being in the bonus because of fouls, scoring its next eight points on free throws. Rice, shooting 31% from three in the first half, struggled to shoot from anywhere in the second half hitting 29% from the field.

Defensively the Miners were more aggressive, creating seven turnovers in the second half after only two in the first. With junior Bryson Williams in foul trouble, the Miners went to a smaller lineup creating  match-up issues for the Owls.

“I thought we did a nice job of getting into a rhythm in the second half,” Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We put some stops together; once you see that ball go through the basket, it gives you a little more energy to want to come down and guard a little harder on defense.”

This was the second comeback of 19 points or more this season for the Miners with the last one being the overtime win over the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Edwards for the night had a career high 34 points, which was equal to the entire rest of the team., Previously Edwards high in a game was 24 against Charlotte. Both Edwards and Boum played the entire 40 minutes of the game.

Edwards is enjoying a strong senior season averaging over 11 points a game after transferring from Louisiana State University, where he played two seasons. Edwards leads the team in 3-point shooting with 38% with 64 made from that range.

“My teammates were coming to me telling me to be more aggressive,” Edwards said. “With Bryson out of the game, I felt was it was my responsibility to take over the scoring for the team.”

Boum ended the game with 16 points and a career high seven assists. Williams, in limited playing time, finished with 10 points along with 5 rebounds.

The Miners (14-14, 5-10) next play at home 2 p.m. March 1, against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (9-19, 5-10). It will be the final home game of the UTEP season as well as senior night.