UTEP Pulls Off 6th Straight Win at Rice, 72-70
The Miners fought back in a tough up-and-down game and pulled off their sixth consecutive win with a 72-70 victory at Rice on Saturday afternoon.
And Miner fans have to give a huge thanks to point guard Jamal Bieniemy, who had a career performance. The Oklahoma transfer finished with a career-best 36 points (seven 3-pointers, also a career-high), seven rebounds four assists and three steals. This is the first time a Miner has scored 36 points since Stefon Jackson in December of 2007 against NM State. Randy Culpepper was the last Miner to score more than 36 points (45 points in February of 2010).
“This is just a fun group to coach," said first year head coach Joe Golding. "February is a grind. At the end of the day, who cares (who you play). Just trust the process and good stuff will happen. So happy for these guys, so proud of them.”
In the first half, the Miners had as much as a 14-point lead (20-6) before Rice exploded back and closed out the half on a 23-10 run. Rice went into the half with a 30-28 advantage, despite UTEP leading for nearly 18 minutes of the first half.
The second half was filled with lead changes (6) and ties (6). Both teams were trading buckets and the Miners led 58-56 before going on a 13-4 run to seal the game. The Owls went on an 8-0 run when UTEP led 71-60, but it was too late as Bieniemy sunk a late free throw to ice the game, 72-70.
Rice was led by a trio of double digit scorers: Carl Pierre (18), Travis Evee (16) and Max Fiedler (12 points, eight rebounds). They out-rebounded UTEP 35-33 and shot 45% from the floor.
However, UTEP forced 13 turnovers defensively, including eight steals. The Miners shot 44% from the floor and an impressive 52% from 3-point range.
Tydus Verhoeven scored in double figures again with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, along with three rebounds and one block. UTEP is 9-0 all-time when Verhoeven scores in double figures. Alfred Hollins came off the bench and scored 11 points in the win.
Up next: The Miners (14-8, 7-3 C-USA) will continue their Texas road swing against North Texas with a 6 p.m. tip-off on Monday, Feb. 7. Voice of the Miners Jon Teicher will have coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. with MinerTalk slated after the game.