Miners win first round of CBI Tournament


Junior guard Souley Boum lines up against a Western Illinois opponent at the Don Haskins Center on March 19 for round one of the CBI Tournament. Photo credit of Ruben Ramirez.

Daniel Alec Lopez, Staff Reporter

The UTEP men’s basketball team (20-13, 7-6 Conference-USA) won its first round match up against Western Illinois University (16-16) March 19 at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners were able to control the game early and not ever trail in this 80-54 victory. Boum ended up grabbing a triple double in this contest. 

“I’m proud of our guys. This was a player-driven decision to play postseason play,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “I supported them as long as they were 100 percent in, and I thought today they showed we were. We haven’t played in nine or 10 days and it was sloppy at times, but in the second half I thought our ball movement was as good as it’s been all season long.” 

The Miners started off with an early 9-0 lead after buckets coming from junior forward Tydus Verhoeven, junior guard Souley Boum, and junior guard  Keonte Kennedy. 

Boum drained a 3-pointer to push the score to 18-7.  Later on, junior guard Christian Agnew was able to make back-to-back baskets to push the Miners lead to 25-13. 

Early on defensively, the Miners were able to stifle Western Illinois on the glass each time there was a scoring attempt at the basket. Western Illinois could not get off good 3-pointer looks because of the Miners strong defense.  

“We got off to a good start defensively,” Golding said. “I’m just proud of our guys.” 

However, Western Illinois was able to cut the score down to 29-20 after a 3-pointer from graduate forward Will Carius. 

Boum and Kennedy were able to boost the Miners lead to 36-20 after made baskets. 

The Miners were able to go on consistent scoring runs in the first half and were able to maintain the lead. 

At the half, the Miners led 36-24.  

Offensively the Miners were rolling and taking good shots from inside the paint and 3-point line.  

Defensively, the Miners were able to flood the paint and not allow Western Illinois to shoot 3-pointers most of the first half of this contest. 

In the start of the second half, Kennedy was able to knockdown a 3-pointer to put the score at 39-24. 

The Miners increased their lead to 48-30 after a lay-up from senior forward Alfred Hollins. 

At the 8:31 mark, Western Illinois went on a scoring run to cut the score down to 54-41.  

UTEP kept scoring on the offense and kept playing great defense, which led to an 80-54 victory in the first round of the CBI tournament. 

Leading scorers in this game were Boum with 20 points and 10 assists and Kennedy with 20 points and two rebounds. Finally, freshman forward Jamari Sibley scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in this contest. 

The UTEP men’s basketball team can be seen back in action in the next round of the CBI tournament  at 7 p.m. on March. 19 at the Don Haskins Center against an opponent who is to be determined. 

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