UTEP Completes 24-Point Comeback in Overtime Win vs. UTSA, 80-77
A tale of two halves.
A roller coaster of emotions.
And a historic 24-point comeback.
This is how UTEP finished their come-from-behind 80-77 overtime victory against UTSA on Thursday night in front of 4,442 fans at the Haskins Center.
It wasn't pretty by any means but the 24-point comeback was the largest in program history and ranks 24th best in NCAA history. UTSA led 54-30 at the 14:43 mark of the second half before the Miners outscored the Roadrunners 50-23 to close out the game in overtime.
Forward Bryson Williams upped his name in the discussion for C-USA Player of the Year with his career-high 34 points (13-of-24), 10 rebounds and two steals in 42 minutes, including 18 points in the second half. He went toe-to-toe in a scoring frenzy against college basketball's second-leading scorer, UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson, who totaled 29 points (10-of-26) and snatched 13 boards.
Guard Daryl Edwards added 18 points and five made 3-pointers (5-of-8) for the Miners in the win.
It was a noteworthy triumph for the Miners (11-7, 2-3 Conference USA) who strumbled into this game having lost six of their last eight games.
“What a game. What a game,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We beat a team who’s playing as well as anybody in our league. We have a lot of respect for [UTSA Head Coach] Steve [Henson], and UTSA. We know that guys can really score the basketball. They put a lot of pressure on us, defensively and we had to guard two of the better scorers in college basketball. Jackson and Wallace are elite-level scorers. They had it going early and they were making shots. We didn’t come out with the kind of intensity and effort that we’ve had in practice the last couple days.”
In the first half, the Miners came out looking sluggish defensively and had an abysmal start offensively. They shot 32.1 percent from the floor (9-of-28) and totaled eight turnovers. On the other hand, UTSA saw great offensive production from guard Keaton Wallace (18 points) and Jackson (14), as the Roadrunners went into the half with a 42-28 lead.
Problems for the Miners continued out of the half. They could not settle on a rotation they liked and fell behind by as many as 24 points through the first six minutes.
During the next seven minutes, UTEP completely flipped the script. They went on a 19-2 run sparked by five forced turnovers on defense and a couple of clutch buckets from Williams and Edwards.
Through the final stretch, Williams, Edwards, Souley Boum, Nigel Hawkins and Eric Vila closed out the game by playing the last 17:33 of the game.
Both teams exchanged buckets to start overtime, but the Miners stopped the Roadrunners on consecutive possessions, while buckets from Williams and Vila helped to close the game, 80-77.
Vila finished with six points, seven boards and six assists, along with a drawn charge and block in overtime. Hawkins ended the game with seven points and eight rebounds, while Boum totaled seven points and four assists.
This was an important win for UTEP, especially coming off their recent loss to LA Tech at home last Friday. Things looked grim for this team—along with this season—at points in this game but nonetheless, the Miners were able to squeeze out a crazy one.
UTEP will now face UTSA on the road, as part of the home-and-home series, on Saturday, Jan. 19. Tune into MinerTalk following the game broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso, presented by Palo Verde Homes.
Photo gallery by Ruben Ramirez