UTEP Picks Up Exciting Road Win Over LA Tech, 63-60
Fight and toughness—those are words that first-year head coach Joe Golding always emphasizes with the men's basketball team.
For the first time in 18 years, UTEP went to LA Tech and upset the Bulldogs on their home floor in a back-and-forth 63-60 finish that featured 14 lead changes and eight ties.
Credit guard Souley Boum for a dominant performance in the win, finishing with 28 points (9-of-20 FG), 12 rebounds (fourth career double-double), three assists and three steals. Bonke Maring (five points, five rebounds) and Jamal Bieniemy (seven points) each chipped in with clutch free throws down the stretch.
This was the first win at LA Tech since 2004, as the Bulldogs came in with an 11-1 home record against the Miners. The two teams split the series this year.
"This team has been resilient all year," said Golding. "We spent a lot of time talking to our guys and understanding what we're best at. I thought they defended really well tonight. Proud of this group all around."
The first half was about as back-and-forth you can ask for, featuring 10 lead changes and six ties between the two squads. The largest point differential in the first half was only a six-point lead by the Bulldogs. LA Tech shot just 35% from the floor in the first, along with six turnovers. The Miners shot 44% from the floor but had seven turnovers early. UTEP went into the break with the 29-28 slight advantage.
Boum led the Miners in the first half with 10 points and seven boards. C-USA standout Kenneth Lofton scored eight points in the first and also chipped in with five rebounds. Alfred Hollins and Tydus Verhoeven scored seven points each.
Out of the second half, the Miners took control early and held firm to a lead over the Bulldogs. It wasn't until the 5:48 mark when the Bulldogs took a second half lead, 46-45. The Bulldogs had chances to pull away from the Miners, leading 53-48 with under three minutes in the game.
However, Boum hit a couple clutch floaters to give the visiting team the lead down the stretch. Bonke Maring came off the bench for Verhoeven, who fouled out early in the second half. Maring provided a spark and finished with five clutch points and five tough rebounds in nine minutes. The Miners were able to ice the game from the charity stripe, despite some late buckets by LA Tech to keep the score close.
Lofton Jr. led LA Tech with 12 points and 16 rebounds, while guard Cobe Williams totaled 19 in the loss. They won the rebounding margin in a narrow fashion (42-40), but the Bulldogs turned it over 16 times and shot just 55% from the free throw line (17-of-31).
UTEP shot 40% from the floor and made 77% of its free throws. They scored 32 points in the paint and overcame early foul trouble to escape with the win.
Up next: UTEP will play the second of its three-game road swing against Southern Miss on Saturday, Feb. 19. Tip-off is set for 11 am on 600 ESPN El Paso.