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Miners win final home game

Forward+Ze%E2%80%99Rik+Onyema+dunks+the+ball+during+the+second+half%2C+while+the+Miners+maintain+their+lead+on+Middle+Tennessee.++
Annabella Mireles
Forward Ze’Rik Onyema dunks the ball during the second half, while the Miners maintain their lead on Middle Tennessee.

Saturday, Mar. 4, the UTEP men’s basketball team (14-17, C-USA 7-13) played their last game of the regular season at the Don Haskins Center against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (18-13, C-USA 11-9), ultimately ending the regular season on a high note, winning the game 65-77. 

The game began with an MT possession following a tip off by UTEP junior forward Calvin Solomon and MT redshirt senior forward DeAndre Dishman. The Miners were off to a rough start when MT junior guard Eli Lawrence was the first to put points on the scoreboard with a three-pointer. 

The Blue Raiders held their biggest lead over the Miners during the first half, after junior guard Camryn Weston was injured. Lawrence attempted a three for MT and the team was able to rebound and score two. MT stole the ball during UTEP’s next possession and made another two-pointer, bringing the score to 6-10. 

It was all downhill for MT from this point. The Miners closed the gap with a three-pointer, followed by a two-pointer scored by sophomore forward Otis Frazier III. This gave the Miners the lead, 10-11. The Miners stole the ball during MT’s possession and scored two more. 

The Blue Raiders went in for a layup and scored two, but the Miners widened their gap even more, when junior guard Malik Zachery scored three from the corner. Soon after, sophomore forward Ze’Rik Onyema dunked the ball. The Miners secured a rebound during a Blue Raiderpossession, and senior guard Shamar Givance scored three. 

Guard Shamar Givance plays defense against Middle Tennessee March 4. (Annabella Mireles)

MT junior guard Elias King responded with his own three-pointer, but UTEPshut it down with another three, courtesy of Zachery. MT began to slowly close the gap on UTEP, with King playing a crucial role in the minor comeback.  

Things got heated when MT sophomore guard Teafale Lenard Jr. dunked, but Onyema responded with his own dunk. These shots would be the last of the quarter for both teams, bringing the score at the half to 39-32, with the Miners in the lead. 

Instead of the regular halftime performance, 2023 graduates were recognized. Members of the cheer team, dance team, and band who will be graduating this spring were all honored, and the dance team was escorted onto the court by family and close friends.  

The second half began with a Blue Raiderpossession and two points against the Miners. The Miners did not take this lightly, as Onyema responded with a three-pointer. Givance was fouled on soon after, and made both free throws, MT got shut down by UTEP when Dishman went to dunk, as the shot was denied from behind.  

Following free throws from both teams, Givance had a streak, making back-to-back two-pointers. Sophomore guard Carlos Lemus and Frazier III both scored two-pointers, bringing the score to 58-47.  

Later in the second half, Frazier III received the ball from a rebound and made a rush for the basket. Getting fouled on during his shot, he scored the shot itself and a free throw, boosting the score to 64-47. 

The Blue Raiders scored seven points in what seemed to be a final rush at the Miners, quickly bumping the score to 64-54. Junior forward Calvin Solomon was fouled on and made both of his shots. Frazier III had a repeat occurrence of getting fouled on during a layup, and scoring three total, widening the gap on MT. 

During an MT possession UTEP was able to steal the ball, and Onyema went in for a mean dunk, scoring two. The last shots of the game were from junior guard Tae Hardy, who scored two free throws, bringing the game to its final score of 77-65. 

Guard Tae Hardy goes for a layup during the second half. (Annabella Mireles)

Head Coach Joe Golding was proud of the team and acknowledged they had a lot of close calls throughout the season. 

“Six, seven games have been really close, and we’re not into moral victories here at UTEP, that’s not why I got hired, that’s not what UTEP basketball is about,” Golding said. “But this team has been in a lot of close games that haven’t gone our way, but they continue to fight all year long, they haven’t given up on each other, they continue to compete, and again, proud of the way they finished tonight.” 

The Miners begun the C-USA tournament at Western Kentucky Mar. 8. 

Nicholas Maes may be reached at [email protected] 

 

 

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About the Contributors
Nicholas Maes, Sports Editor
Nicholas Maes is a sports editor at The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in history with a minor in commercial music. He plans to continue his academic career in history after earning his bachelor's degree.
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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Miners win final home game