Spartans Stun Miners in Opening Round of Don Haskins Invitational
UTEP couldn't escape poor shooting for the second straight game, as Norfolk State shot 46 percent (11-for-24) from 3-point range and raced away with a 75-62 win in the opening round of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
The Miners (4-6) will now take on former WAC foe Wyoming (3-8) in the consolation round of the Sun Bowl Invitational tomorrow, while Norfolk State will take on East Tennessee State in the championship game.
And for the fourth straight year, UTEP will not be crowned champions of their own tournament, which they haven't won since 2014.
Freshman big man Efe Odigie led the Miners with 18 points and nine boards, flirting with his fifth double-double of the season, before fouling out in the second half.
Sophomore guard Evan Gilyard, who missed the previous game due to an injury, checked into the game late in the first half and when he was on the court, the Miners were more productive offensively. He finished with 20 points in 27 minutes of action. Hawkins chipped in with 15 points as well, while Paul Thomas finished with 17 rebounds.
The Miners got off to a sluggish start in the first half. Not only were they shooting poorly for the second game in a row, but Norfolk State was making some clutch shots, including shooting 46 percent (6-of-13) from beyond the arc.
UTEP shot an abysmal 8 percent from the floor (1-for-12) in the first 12 minutes of the game, which also included a 0-for-3 outing from beyond the arc.
Once Gilyard checked into the game, UTEP brought up its field goal shooting percentage to 26 percent. Odigie led the Miners with 10 points and seven boards going into the half, while Thomas led the team with 10 rebounds.
Out of the second half, the Miners would march back into the game and cut it as short as two points, but Norfolk State's shooting took to another level. They shot as well as 52 percent from beyond the arc, while having three players in double-digits.
Norfolk State was led by guard Mastadi Pitt, who finished with 24 points, followed by Derrik Jamerson (13) and C.J. Kelly (10). The Spartans finished with eight blocks and held the Miners to shooting 37 percent from the floor and 16 percent from beyond the arc.
UTEP will tip-off against Wyoming tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center.