UTEP men’s basketball split home and away series against UTSA

UTEP+junior+point+guard+Jamal+Bienemy++speeds+past+a+USTA+defender+against+the+Roadrunners+in+a+67-51+win+Jan.+30.

Courtesy of UTEP

UTEP junior point guard Jamal Bienemy speeds past a USTA defender against the Roadrunners in a 67-51 win Jan. 30.

Danny Lopez, Michael Cuviello

The UTEP Miners (8-8, 4-6) returned home with a 69-51 win Saturday night over the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners (8-8,4-5) following a 86-79 road defeat Thursday. 

In Game one of the matchupthe Miners were struggling on offense as the Roadrunners seemed to make incredible shot after unbelievable shot all night. The Miners allowed the Roadrunners to go on a 13-1 run that put the score at 20-11 at the 11:00 mark of the first half. 

Junior guard Souley Boum drained a 3-point shot to end a five-minute scoring drought finally, bringing down the Roadrunners lead down to eight 24-15. However, UTSA countered with an 8-0 run to give them a 32-15 lead 

Later, at the 5:00 mark, Senior Bryson Williams got a layup and a foul snapping the UTSA run, cutting the Roadrunners lead down to 14. Moments later, redshirt sophomore Kristian Sjolund followed that with a 3-point shot to close the deficit to 32-21. 

UTEP continued its efforts to get back into the game, getting within 7 points, but that did not last very long as UTSA drained a 3-point shot to give the Roadrunners a 41-31 lead. 

Right before the end of the half, the Miners responded five straight points, culminating with a 3-pointer from Boum that cut the lead with a run of its own to bring UTEP to within 5 points. Unfortunately, UTSA  was able to fend off the Miners and close out the half with a 46-38 lead. 

Opening the second half, UTEP went on a 7-0 scoring run to pull with one, 46-45. The Roadrunners would respond with a short jumper from Conference USA’s (C-USA) secondleading scorer Jhivvan Jackson to take the lead back up to three. 

On the next two possessions, the Miners would score and take a shortlived 1-point lead after a Williams free throw. The Roadrunners would once again respond, this time with a 3-pointer  that once again gave UTSA the lead. Boum would tie the game back up with a couple of points from the charity stripe. Williams followed up on the next possession with a short jumper to give the Miners the lead back 53-51 with 14 minutes remaining in the game. That would be the last time that the Miners would have a lead in the game. 

Jackson would once again make a critical shot for the Roadrunners with 11 minutes left in the game to give UTSA the lead for good. By the nineminute mark, the Roadrunners had built on its lead and were up 62-56. Leading by six points with eight and half minutes left in the game, the Roadrunners went on an eightpoint run over the next two minutes of the game, stretching its lead to 14 points. 

Over the next three minutes, the Miners would chip away at the deficit and at the 3:42 minute mark of the game, the Miners would pull to within 8 points off a putback by sophomore Tydus Verhoeven. Williams would follow this with a jumper cutting the UTSA lead to six with three minutes remaining. UTSA would answer with five straight points, including a 3-pointer that put UTSA up 79-68 with just over a minute left in the game. Jackson closed out the game with eight straight points for the Roadrunners to lead them to a 86-79 win. 

“We didn’t do a good job stopping [UTSA] in the first half,” UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “In the second half we took control of the game and we were winning at one point as well. But when it comes down to it, we had a couple really good looks, but Jackson and those guys made some really big plays; made some shots.”  

The Roadrunners’ in their victory, had three guards combine for 65 points. Those players were  Jackson with 32 points, Keaton Wallace with 19 points and freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry with 14 points. 

Boum led the team in scoring with 24 points and  Williams also scored 24 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Sophomore Keonte Kennedy had a doubledouble with 12 points and 13 rebounds. 

As a team, the Miners shot 40% from the field while only hitting 26% on 19 shots from the 3-point line. Defensively, the Miners had little success as the Roadrunners shot an impressive 50% from the field 

With the return home to the Don Haskins Center for game two, the Miners found their footing on the defensive side as the team held the Roadrunners to 29% shooting from the field. 

In the first half, the Miners started off awfully slow on offense, not scoring for almost the first three minutes of the game as the Roadrunners went on a 6-0 run to start the half. In that span of time, the Miners committed three turnovers and missed its first three shots. At the 17:02 mark of the first half, Boum hit a short jumper in the paint for the first points of the game for the Miners.  

After junior guard Jamal Bienemy was fouled on a made jumper cutting the score to 8-5, Boum would then score on two straight possessions for the Miners to pull the team within 1 point of the Roadrunners. 

 Junior guard Christian Agnew converted on a free throw to tie the score with UTSA at 12. With 13 minutes left in the first half, Bienemy would sink a couple of free throws to give the Miners its first lead of the game 14-12. Both teams would trade scores until UTSA’s Cedrick Alley Jr. sank a 3-pointer with 10 minutes remaining in the half to tie the game at 16.  

Over the next five minutes of the game, the Miners would increase its lead to 8 points on 10-2 run. At the 3:42 minute mark of the game, UTSA would pull within 2 points on a Wallace jumper off a fastbreak. Both teams would trade baskets but the Miners would go into the half with a 32-29 lead over UTSA. 

To start the second half, Kennedy knocked down a 3-point shot to increase the Miner lead to 35-29. Following that score, Williams hit a jumper to UTEP’s lead 37-29. A Bienemy shot in the paint then increased the Miner lead to 7 points. 

UTSA found their way back into this game on a pair of jumpers from Wallace that cut the Miner lead to a point with 13:53 remaining in the game. Responding on the next possession, UTEP’s Bienemy hit an open 3-pointer to take the Miners back up by 4 points. UTSA’s Eric Parrish then hit two straight field goals in the paint to tie the score at 44 with 11:35 remaining in the game. 

The Miners then would score the next 5 points to take a 49-44 lead with about 10 minutes left in the contest. A clutch Williams 3-pointer with 8:44 remaining put the Miners back up by 7 points. 

With eight minutes left in the game, UTSA freshman sensation big man Jacob Germany scored inside to close the gap to five. That shot would be the last field goal the Roadrunners would make for the rest of the game. The Miners defense took over and shut down the Roadrunners, keeping them scoreless for the next five minutes as UTEP scored 13 unanswered points. For the final eight minutes, UTSA would miss its last nine shots from the field and score only four points, all from the free-throw line as the Miners went on to cruise to a 69-51 victory. 

 

For the game, the Miners held UTSA’s top scorer, Jackson, to 7 points on 3-10 shooting from the field and no shots made from the arc on five attempts. Jackson was averaging 20.4 points a game coming into the matchup. 

“Everything was predicated on our defense,” Terry said. “We knew if we could bottle that same defense we had in the second half (Thursday), we could do the same thing here. Our guys were focused in terms of what we had to do defensively. I thought they came out and really played well together defensively. 

Leading the way for the Miners was Boum with 20 points. Bienemy and Kennedy both had double-doubles for the MinersBienemy 16 points to go with 10 rebounds and Kennedy had 10 points as well as leading the team with 14 rebounds. This game was the second in a row for Kennedy to have double-digit rebounds. 

As a team, The Miners shot 44% from the field on 25 of 46 shooting and shot 3-of-12 from the 3-point line. Defensively, they held UTSA 11% from the 3-point line and 27% from the field goal. UTEP outrebounded the Roadrunners 45-27. 

The Roadrunners’ only bright spot was winning the turnover battle with eight compared to the Miners’ 17. 

For the month of January, the Miners went 4-6 and currently sit in fifth place in the conference’s west division. The top four teams advance to the conference tournament. 

Up next for UTEP is the division leader, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (13-2, 6-1), for two games starting  5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 5 in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Danny Lopez and Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]