UTEP basketball comes up short in Tucson

UTEP+junior+point+guard+Jaml+Bienemy+works+around+a+defender+against+Arizona+Dec.+12.

Courtesy of UTEP

UTEP junior point guard Jaml Bienemy works around a defender against Arizona Dec. 12.

Danny Lopez, Contributer

UTEP stayed close all game but came up short on the road Saturday against the University of Arizona Wildcats. The Miners could not find their footing on offense consistently and fell into lengthy periods of poor shooting. UTEP could not, in the end, keep the Wildcats out of the paint and lost 69-61.

The Miners in the first half were an up and down team, turning the ball over a total of nine times while also making mistakes and having dry periods of scoring on the floor. However, UTEP still found a way to keep putting up enough points to keep them in the game, whether from the 3-point line or inside the paint.

On the Miners’ first score, senior forward Bryson Williams sank a 3-point shot to give the Miners a 3-2 lead in the beginning.

UTEP took the lead 14-12 at the 11:36 mark after a lay-up from transfer sophomore forward Kristian Sjolund off the bench.

The Miners then went on a scoring drought that was finally broken by Williams lay-up, making the score 21-19 at the 5:30 mark.

UTEP kept battling offensively but turnovers allowed Arizona to go on a big run bringing Arizona’s lead to 33-23.

Arizona scored once more and closed out the half leading 35-27.

In the first half for the Miners, leading scorers were junior redshirt guard Souley Boum and transfer sophomore guard Keonte Kennedy. Boum scored eight points and shot 1-of-2 from the 3-point line and sank 3-of-5 from the free-throw line. Kennedy scored four points and was 2-of-3 from the field-goal.

As a team offensively, the Miners shot 9-of-25 from the field goal and were 40% from the 3-pt line sinking 2-of-5

Defensively, the Miners in the first half held the Wildcats to no 3- pointers and limited them to 12-of-31 from the field.

In the first half, Arizona was struggling to hit a 3-pt shot due to the Miners stifling defense on the perimeter. However, the Wildcats did score from inside the paint with jump-shots and making lay-ups through traffic and going on big runs to increase their lead at times. The Wildcats shot 39% from the field-goal and hit 11-of-11 free-throws.

In the first half for Arizona, the leading scorers were redshirt junior guard Jermal baker Jr and junior guard James Akinjo. Baker scored nine points and shot 4-of-6 from the field-goal. Akinjo scored eight points and was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line

In the second half, the Miners came out scoring on offense, with Boum getting a steal and converting that to a lay-up making the score 35-29. The Miners cut the lead down to two 35-37 after a couple scores from  junior forward Tydus Verhoeven and Williams.

Both player’s heroic efforts that cut the lead to two did not last long at all. Arizona countered the Miner’s run with a pair of scores of their own, making the lead 41-37.

Arizona then went on a 7-0 run, making the score 48-39. The Miners found ways to climb back into this game with their defense bringing them within four points 65-61.

But that was not enough as Arizona sank more shots to boost their lead up to eight and the Miners could not counter anymore, losing this game 69-61.

“We kept battling and we weren’t going anywhere. We were going to be here the whole time,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “I love my team, this team’s going to be really good. We’re learning some tough lessons right now through playing some really good competition. We needed a physical game. We can’t simulate this in practice. We try to get physical in practice but you have to get it against really good competition.”

Boum led UTEP in scoring with 16 points and shot 4-of-12 from the field-goal. He also sank 2-of-4 from the 3-point line.

Williams was second in scoring with 10 points, draining 4-of-13 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds.

The Miners as a team finished the night shooting 22-of-54 from the field-goal and sunk 5-of-15 from the 3-point line.

UTEP struggled at times to score and must take better shots to be able to play with the better basketball teams on its schedule. UTEP fell to 2-2 on the season.

 

UTEP next faces the 23rd ranked Arizona State Sun Devils at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 in Tempe, Arizona.