Miners strike gold on offense versus 49ers at home

Senior+center+Bryson+Williams+slams+down+a+monster+dunk+versus+Charlotte+in+the+last+home+game+of+the+season+Feb.+28.

Senior center Bryson Williams slams down a monster dunk versus Charlotte in the last home game of the season Feb. 28.

The UTEP Miners (12-10,7-8)  wrapped up a weekend sweep of the Charlotte University 49ers with 77-62 victory Sunday afternoon versus the Charlotte University 49ers (11-10,7-9) with consistent offense and defense. In the game Saturday, the Miners blew out the 49ers 70-47. 

In game one, The Miners started off strong inside the glass, jumping out to a 9-5 lead from scores from junior guard Souley Boum and senior center Bryson Williams. 

Redshirt sophomore guard Keonte Kennedy hit a shot with a foul to increase the lead to 16-13. Right after that score, junior forward Efe Odigie scoredon a turnover and put the Miners up 18-13. 

Later at the 12-minute mark of the first half, Boum knifed inside the defense of the 49ers to draw a foul and sink both free throws to give the Miners a 20-16 lead. 

The Miners on defense were highly active, denying scoring opportunities for the 49ers. At the six-minute mark, redshirt junior forward Tydus Verhoeven went underneath to score, giving the Miners a 26-18.  

From this point on, the Miners defense smothered the 49ers and did not allow one score the rest of the half. Odigie and Boum scored all the Miners’ remaining points as the team went into halftime with a 35-18 lead. 

The 49ers would have a total of 11 turnovers early in the first half, compared to the Miners three turnovers as UTEP’s swarming defense kept Charlotte from getting open shots.  

To open the half, junior guard Jamal Bieniemy hit a 3-point shot extending the Miner lead to 20 points. After six minutes of play had elapsed in the second half, the Miners extended its lead to 29 points on a Verhoeven layup. 

After back-to-back jumpers by Boum and Williams, the Miners now led 53-22 with 12:45 left in the game. The Miners’ scoring would continue as Junior guard Christian Agnew sunk a 3-point shot to give the Miners a 61-26 lead.  

With three minutes left in the game, the Miners led 70-39 and cleared the bench to get the full roster playing time.  

The Miners would not score in the final three minutes as it went on to a 70-47 blowout of the 49ers.  

“I thought our guys came out and really set the tone early to start the ballgame,” UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Charlotte has two of the premier players in the league in Sheperd and Young. Both of those guys are good players and we knew we’d have our hands full with their perimeter game. I thought we did a good job following the scouting report and staying between our man and the basket. We did a great job converting once we forced those turnovers in transition.”   

Boum and Odigie led the Miners in scoring with 15 points. Boum shot 40%  on 5-of-12 from the field goal and shot  30% 3-of-8 from the 3-point line. Odigie shot 6-10 from the floor and sank 3-of-6 free-throws in 20 minutes of play. This was Odigie’s first game since he suffered a concussion against North Texas Jan. 15. Verhoeven also had 10 points on  5-of-6 from the field.  

Offensively, the Miners shot 45%  on 26-of-58 from the field  while shooting 25% from the 3-point line. 

Defensively, the Miners were dominant, holding the 49ers to 33% on  15-of-45 from the field and 22% from the 3-point line. UTEP forced 17 turnoverswhile Charlotte only forced five.  

The Miners had its least amount of turnovers since its New Year matchups with Southern Mississippi 

In game two, The Miners started off red-hot on offense jumping out to a 10-5 early on 10 straight points from Boum, including three 3-pointers. 

Charlotte slowly started to crawl back into the game and, at the nine-minute mark, were trailing UTEP by only a single point on a 3 pointer from sophomore guard Brice Williams. UTEP’s own Williams would counter quickly with a 3-pointer of his own to make the score 21-18. 

At the six-minute mark, Charlotte would tie the game at 25 apiece. The Miners responded by outscoring the 49ers 12-5 over the final minutes of the first half to give the team a 37-30 lead at the intermission. 

To start the second half, Boum came out scoring much like he did at the beginning of the game with 8 straight points, including two more 3-pointers to extend the Miners’ lead to 45-31. on the first possession to make the score 39-30.  

Five straight inside scores from Odigie and Williams would have the Miners up 55-33 

Odigie would get a score of his own for a 47-31 lead. Odigie would score again moments later after a 49ers bucket for a 51-33 Miner lead.  

Williams would get a hook shot to follow for a 53-33 Miner lead. Odigie scored again for a 55-33 lead for the Miners. Kennedy would follow that with a 3-point shot for a 58-33 lead for the Miners. Odigie would score again for a 60-33 lead. 

Sophomore Kristian Sjolund hit a 3-pointer at the 10-minute mark to put the Miners up 63-33. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Miners outscore the 49ers 27-3 with no shots made from the field. The 49ers would not get a field goal until 11 minutes had passed in the half.  Charlotte missed its first 14 shots of the half. 

With 5:44 left in the game, the Miners led by 32 points after a Williams jumper. From this point, the 49ers scored 21 more points while UTEP cruised with 5 more points for the comfortable 77-62 victory. 

“We had seven turnovers in the first half, and we’d been one of the better team in the league taking care of the basketball, and really one of the best teams in the country,” Terry said. “[Charlotte] has eight points off those turnovers and that was the biggest reason why we didn’t have as much separation. I thought the defense was solid in the first half, but it was the turnovers that was leaving points for those guys that we didn’t need to give up. We came out in the second half and did a much better job taking care of the basketball. We came out with really good energy and great activity.”  

“I thought our guys came out and really set the tone early to start the ballgame,” Terry said. “Charlotte has two of the premier players in the league in Sheperd and Young. Both of those guys are good players and we knew we’d have our hands full with their perimeter game. I thought we did a good job following the scouting report and staying between our man and the basket. We did a great job converting once we forced those turnovers in transition.”  

The Miners’ leading scorer was Williams with 23 points while also recording a careerhigh 14 rebounds, shooting 11-of-17 from the field. Tied for the lead in scoring was Boum with 23 on 8 of 14 shooting from the fieldBoum had a career-high six 3-pointers on  6-of-9 shooting from the arc. Coming off the bench, Odigie scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbed five rebounds. 

The Miners had a great shooting day with 52% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line. Defensively, they held the 49ers to 40% shooting from the field and 20% from the 3-point line. 

Overall, the Miners finished strong in this game with consistent offense and defense as the team recorded its fourth win in a row. 

The Miners travel to Lawrence, Kansas to face the 17th ranked the University of Kansas, Thursday at 5.pm., March 4, at Allen Fieldhouse.  

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