Miners move past the Mustangs

Danny Lopez, Staff Reporter

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  • Kezza Giffa layups the ball during the home game against Western New Mexico on Nov. 9.

  • Players cheer on sidelines during the second half of the game against Western New Mexico on Nov. 9.

  • Head Coach Joe Golding talks to players during time-out for their game against Western New Mexico Nov. 9.

  • Keonte Kennedy dribbles the ball while looking for someone to pass to during the home game against Western New Mexico on Nov. 9.

  • Jamal Bieniemy plays defense during their home game against Western New Mexico on Nov. 9.

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The Miners (1-0,0-0) opened their regular season with a victory against Western New Mexico University (0-1,0-0) on Nov. 9 at the Don Haskins Center. UTEP came out with extremely high intensity on defense from the beginning and would force 26 turnovers in this contest. This would also be one of the largest crowds for the home opener.  

“Defense is something that we’re trying to establish here, it fits the Don Haskins Center,” said UTEP Head Coach Joe Golding in a Nov. 9 press conference. “We’ve got to continue to build on that. Both halves we were able to turn them over.” 

In the beginning of the first half, the Miners would set the tone defensively, and force a shot clock violation turnover on the Mustangs’ first possession. Sophomore forward Bonke Maring gave the Miners a 2-0 lead by hitting a jump-shot. The Mustangs tied the game up moments later with a 3-pointer to make the score 3-3.  

The Miners offense started to find its rhythm when junior guard Jamal Bieniemy first hit a three-pointer to give the Miners a 10-6 lead. Then, Bieniemy hit a jump-shot to put the Miners up 16-6. Right after that jumper on a fast break, Bieniemy tossed a pass to Maring for two to go up 18-6. Bieniemy scored again with a 3-pointer once again to put the Miners up 21-6.  

“Just play hard on both ends, be a leader for my teammates just make plays all around and shots went in tonight but just every night be a leader,” Bieniemy said in a Nov. 9 press conference.  

The trailing Mustangs managed to climb back into the game, cutting the lead to 21-13. Bieniemy and redshirt sophomore Keonte Kennedy would both hit a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Miners up 27-16.  

At the half, the Miners led the Mustangs 36-26.   

In the start of the second half, junior guard Christain Agnew made his presence felt by getting fouled, sinking a free throw to put the Miners up 39-26. The Mustangs got a 3-pointer to fall, but Maring answered with a 3 pointer himself. After the Miners stood tall on defense, Verhoeven sent a pass to Kennedy for a slam-dunk to put the Miners up 44-29.  

Bieniemy again from beyond the arc drilled a 3-pointer to put UTEP up 47-31. A bit later, freshman guard Cam Clardy sank a 3-pointer to give the Miners a 55-36 lead. Freshman forward Kevin Kalu got a put-back to give the Miners a 57-36 lead.  

The Miners ballooned the lead to 66-46 after multiple baskets made on fast breaks and forced turnovers. At the 3:59 mark, Jorell Saterfield got a 3-pointer to put their lead at 75-54. Saterfield would again make another 3-pointer to put UTEP up 80-54.  

The Miners would claim victory in their first game of the regular season 85-57, marking coach Golding’s first victory as the Miners’ new head coach.  

Bieniemy finished the game with 23 points while shooting 1-of-2 from the 3-point line and dishing out two assists.  

The Miners travel to the Pan American Center at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov 13 to face New Mexico State University (NMSU). The Aggies are a longtime rival, and the game can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso or the UTEP Miners app. 

Danny Lopez is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]