LA Tech Overpowers Undermanned Miners, 64-52
The dog days of Conference USA play are here for the young, undermanned Miners.
LA Tech overpowered UTEP, 64-52, as the Miners are now in the midst of a three-game losing streak. They played without guard Christian Agnew, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Second-leading scorer Keonte Kennedy is out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury.
The Miners were clearly short-handed in the contest and the Bulldogs took charge early in the game. Through the first half, the Miners briefly led 8-7 after Jamal Bieniemy hit a trio of jumpers, including back-to-back 3's in transition. After that, LA Tech went on a 23-7 run to separate themselves from the Miners, who shot just 9-of-30 from the floor in the first half. The Bulldogs led 41-25 at the break.
Things continued to go LA Tech's way out of the half as they held a steady lead over the Miners. LA Tech led 46-27 in the second half before the Miners went on a 12-0 run to make it a respectable game and trim the visitor's lead to seven points. The Miners rode momentum through the likes of Tydus Verhoeven, who made an and-1 basket on Bulldog standout forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. However, the Bulldogs responded with a 6-0 run of their own and outlasted the Miners with a 64-52 win.
LA Tech was led by Lofton, who finished with 11 points,18 rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes. Reigning C-USA Player of the Week Cobe Williams had 17 points for the Bulldogs as well. They out-rebounded the Miners, 42-31, and shot 42% from the Floor (26% 3-point FG).
On the other hand, Bieniemy finished with a career-high 28 points (10-of-21 shooting, 8 turnovers) to lead all scorers. He was the only UTEP player in double figures, as Souley Boum chipped in with 8 points (3-of-12 shooting) and Verhoeven finished with 5 (2-of-3 FG).
San Diego State transfer Che Evans was in attendance, along with 3,701 other Miner fans. He could join the Miners as early as next week as a mid-year transfer.
Up next: The Miners (7-7, 0-2 C-USA) will face Southern Miss on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center with a 7 p.m. tipoff.