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UTEP men’s basketball fights to the end in tough loss against top ranked LA Tech 

SalmaPaola Baca
Junior forward Derick Hamilton attempts a layup.

Editor’s Note: This recap is not the most recent game for the UTEP Miners Men’s Basketball. 

The UTEP Miners (13-14, C-USA 4-8) faced top-ranking LA Tech (19-8, C-USA 9-3), but fought hard through the game, ending the game down by only six points (59-65). Coming off of losses on the road against WKU (19-7, C-USA 8-4) and Middle Tennessee (11-16, C-USA 5-7), the Miners returned home to face top-tier teams this week. 

The game began with a UTEP possession from a tip-off by junior forward Kevin Kalu. LA Tech got the rebound and scored the first points of the game (0-3). The Miners bounced back, going on a seven-point streak and leading LA Tech by three (9-6), thanks to a layup by junior forward Derick Hamilton. 

LA Tech grad student guard Tahlik Chavez played a crucial role in the Bulldog offense throughout the game, beginning his points in the game with a three that gave the teams their first of nine ties in the entire game.  

UTEP made a brief comeback, closing what was initially a five-point lead by LA Tech, and tied it up three more times before the end of the first half. UTEP freshman guard David Terrell Jr. put up the final three points, ending the first half two points over the Bulldogs (31-29). 

Fans were in for a treat during halftime, as new football head coach Scotty Walden not only presented his coaching staff for the upcoming 2024 season, but proceeded to take off his shirt, revealing blue and orange body paint. Walden would spend the remainder of the game in the student section making sure UTEP pride stayed high for the second half. 

The game remained extremely close throughout the second half, although LA Tech put the pressure on UTEP, ultimately pulling away in the last five minutes of the game. UTEP senior guard Tae Hardy managed to tie the game up 55-55 from a three-pointer with 4:20 left in game time, but it was not enough to put LA Tech away in the game’s final moments. 

Hamilton would put up the final two points of the game for the Miners, as UTEP fought hard to break out against LA Tech’s tightened defense in the second half.  

Despite UTEP’s loss, Hamilton saw an important milestone, as he scored a career-high of 16 points. Even through the success, Hamilton knows that the team needs to work harder at getting the ball where it needs to go. 

“I feel like we were real close, but down the stretch we kind of made some mistakes, and in the end, it’s the little plays that cost us the game,” Hamilton said.  

Head coach Joe Golding understands the caliber of playing a top conference team and acknowledged that the Bulldogs executed well throughout the game compared to the Miners. 

“Rebounding was key and just our offense in the second half,” Golding said. “We had eight turnovers in the second half and didn’t play off two feet as much. We didn’t get fouled. Rebounding was huge, they get 15 offensive rebounds. I thought that was the difference in the second half. Obviously, we don’t get to the free-throw line. We get there five times, they get there 17 times. We’ve got to be stronger and tougher and go in there and demand to be fouled.” 

The Miners will be playing the Don for 80s Night Feb. 24 at 7:00 p.m., facing off against Sam Houston State University. This is following a pep rally happening at 4:00 p.m. at the east entrance of the Don, where the new Don Haskins statue will be unveiled for the first time. 

Nicholas Maes is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Nicholas Maes
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.
SalmaPaola Baca
SalmaPaola Baca, Photographer
SalmaPaola Baca is a senior at UTEP majoring in engineering innovation and leadership with a concentration and minor in civil engineering and an emphasis in computer science. Her passion for photography enables her to be photographer at The Prospector. While a full-time student, she freelances while planning to grow her platform through travel photography. After graduating, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in architecture while working on her photography simultaneously.
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