Miners beat FIU for fifth straight win

Daniel Alec Lopez, Staff Reporter

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  • Jamal Bieniemy plays offense against Florida International University at the Don Haskins Center Jan. 30.

  • Jorell Staterfield tries to pass the ball during the game against Florida International University at the Don Haskins Center Jan. 30.

  • Ze’rik Onyema plays offense against Florida International University at the Don Haskins Center Jan. 30.

  • Jamal Bieniemy plays offense against Florida International University at the Don Haskins Center Jan. 30.

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The UTEP Miners men’s basketball team (13-8, 6-3 Conference-USA) won their fifth straight game against Florida International University (12-9, 3-4 C-USA) Jan. 29 at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners started off a little slow offensively in the first half and struggled defensively. But in the second half, the Miners were able to chip away at a seven point FIU lead, and put it all together on both ends to pull out a 79-68 victory. 

“FIU is very, very talented and they’re hard to guard,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “Overall I’m happy for our guys. We took care of home court with two wins this week. The second half we did a much better job of getting stops and rebounding the basketball. We went on that run when we were down 48-40. We were able to get some steals, rebound the basketball, and get some easy baskets and I thought that changed the game.” 

In the beginning of the first half, the Miners took a 6-5 lead after a 3-pointerfrom junior guard Souley Boum. 

Later on, senior forward Alfred Hollins and junior guard Jamal Bieniemy made back-to-back 3-pointers to go up 17-12.  Boum hit a 3-pointer at the 9:57 mark to push the Miners lead to 22-17. 

The Miners trailed 36-34 after a dunk from junior forward Tydus Verhoeven and a lay-up by Boum in this contest. UTEP was consistently getting beat in the inside when trying to defend the paint. 

Towards the end of the first half, sophomore forward Jamari Sibley tried to dunk the ball right at the buzzer. The dunk was waived off however due to  Sibley not getting the ball inside the net in time.  

At the half, the Miners trailed 36-38. 

In the start of the second half,  FIU went on a 4-0 run to lead 43-36.  However, UTEP became more poised coming out in the second half by playing gritty defense, along with better offense. That started off with sophomore guard Jorrell Saterfield sinking a pair of free throws to cut the lead down to 43-38. 

Verhoeven’s low-post game was effective as he scored a bucket down low to put the score at 45-40 in this contest. 

Unfortunately the Miners found themselves down eight points, but the offense was able to answer again. However, Boum and Bieniemy made a couple of baskets to quickly cut the lead to 45-48. 

Moments later, Boum drained a 3-pointer to put the Miners in front 49-48.Boum later got a lay-up to fall to push the Miners ahead with a lead of 55-53. 

At the 11:50 mark, FIU led 53-51, but the Miners were able to score 10 points in a row to take a 61-53 lead in this contest. 

The Miners began a scoring run later in the second half that ended up propelling them to a 79-68 victory. 

Leading scorers of this game were Boum with 32 points, which is a season high, and one rebound. Bieniemy followed with 13 points and four rebounds, and Hollins right behind him with 11 points and three rebounds. Finally, Verhoeven scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. 

Offensively the Miners shot 9 of 22 from the 3-point line, and 26 of 56 from the field goal. Defensively, the Miners played well, forcing 17 turnovers in this contest and holding FIU to 25 of 57 from the field goal. 

The UTEP men’s basketball team can be seen back in action in their next game against the University of North Texas Mean Green at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 at the UNT Coliseum.   

Daniel Alec Lopez is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]