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UTEP men’s basketball continues inconsistent play with a series split

Courtesy of UTEP
UTEP junior guard, Souley Boum works his way past a Bulldog defender in a matchup with Louisiana Tech Jan. 22.

In a weekend series with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (12-5, 5-3), the UTEP Miners (7-7, 3-5) were able to win impressively Friday night 82-74 but ran out of gas in the Saturday rematch falling 73-55.

In Game one, senior center Bryson Williams came out aggressive on offense, scoring the first points from inside the paint, giving the Miners an early 2-0 lead. Following that, UTEP went on a scoring run with back-to-back 3-point goals from junior guard Souley Boum and sophomore guard Keonte Kennedy, putting the Miners in the lead 10-5 with 17 minutes remaining in the first half.

Louisiana Tech’s senior forward JaColby Pemberton drained a 3-point corner shot to tie the game 12-12. The Miners, however, responded with scores of their own to break the tie and lead the game 17-12. Moments later, The Miners increased their lead 23-12 after an 11-0 scoring run that came from Boum and Williams. Boum came right back after and drained a 3-point shot to give the Miners a 26-16 lead.

Transfer sophomore Kristian Sjolund nailed a 3-point shot to drive the lead up 29-16 at the 9:44 mark. Offensively this team was on fire from the 3-point line. Turnovers and sloppy play allowed the Bulldogs to go on an 8 point run that cut the Miner lead to 34-27.

After pulling within 4 points with about three minutes remaining in the half, the Miners started to take control of the game, outscoring the Bulldogs 14-6 to close the half with a 50-38 lead.

Opening up the second half, the Miners continued to pound the Bulldogs inside the paint coupled with solid outside shooting to maintain a double-digit lead, 74-63, with about four minutes left in the game.

The Bulldogs Miners closed the score to a 6 point margin with about 13 seconds left in the game on a 3-pointer by Pemberton. Two free throws by Williams closed out the game at 82-74.

“This was a complete team win,” UTEP Head Coach  Rodney Terry said following the game.”Everybody who came contributed and did what we asked them to do. When we get 18 to 20 assists, we usually win the game going away in terms of moving the ball and sharing the ball.”

Williams led the Miners in scoring with 28 points along with four rebounds and one assist. Boum had  24 points along with 12 rebounds and four assists.

The Miners as a team shot 29-for-59 from the field goal and sank 10-of-26 from the 3-point line. Defensively, UTEP held Louisana Tech to 20-of-63 from the field goal and 8-of-24 from the 3-point line. The Miners were extremely impressive on both offense and defense in their victory.

In game two, the Miners came out lifeless and trailed from start to finish as the Bulldogs scored the first 4 points of the game to jump out to a lead that was never relinquished. Back to back scorers in the paint by Williams and Boum cut the lead temporarily to two points about 12 minutes into the game. The Miners would never be that close to the Bulldogs again as seconds later, Lousiana Tech hit a 3-pointer to expand its lead to 5 points.

The Miners’ three straight turnovers led to the Bulldogs taking a 32-16 lead, as Lousiana Tech exerted its dominance on the boards by a 17-9 margin with three minutes left in the half. A jumper by Boum eliminated a double-digit Bulldog lead just before the end of the half as the Miners trailed 32-23. Boum scored the last 10 points for the Miners in the half.

To start the second half, Boum continued to carry the Miner offense on his back as he scored 11 straight Miner points to start the half, giving him a streak of 21 consecutive points for UTEP. During this streak, Boum brought the Miners within 4 points after his final 3-pointer of the streak at the 17-minute mark.

At this point, the Miners went cold shooting, missing seven straight field goals, which gave the Bulldogs once gain a double-digit lead at 46-34 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. To make matters worse, the Miners lost its best big man at the 10-minute mark when Williams fouled out.

From this point, the Bulldogs took even more control on the boards with the Miners without its best rebounder and inside scorer as Lousiana Tech opened up a 20 point lead with six minutes remaining in the game. From that point on, Lousiana Tech never let the Miners back into the game as they prevailed 73-55.

“We didn’t play with the sense of urgency we needed to play with,” Terry said. “They came in with a much more competitive spirit. They set the tone at the beginning of the game.

Overall, game two was an ugly affair for the Miners, who could only get offense from Boum, who ended the game with 23 points, including 21 in a row and five steals. No other Miner scored in double digits.

The Miners were outrebounded 41-29 and shot only 34% from the field. Second chance points from the Bulldogs were the key of the game with 14  as opposed to the Miners only having one. Three-point shooting continued to be an issue for the Miners, shooting 28% compared to the Bulldogs’ 37%.

Next up for the Miners is a home and away series against the UTSA Roadrunners (7-8, 3-5), kicking off 5 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Don Haskins Center.

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About the Contributor
Daniel Lopez
Daniel Alec Lopez is senior Digital Media Production. Daniel joined The Prospector in 2019 as a contributor for multimedia, sports, and entertainment.  After graduation, Daniel hopes to relocate somewhere else in Texas and work in broadcasting or any kind of journalism job. 
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UTEP men’s basketball continues inconsistent play with a series split