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UTEP’s rally falls short against Louisiana Tech, 64-52

EL PASO, Texas - Jamal Bieniemy poured in a game and career-high 28 points and UTEP (7-7, 0-2 C-USA) refused to go away quietly in a 64-52 setback to LA Tech (12-3, 3-0 C-USA) inside the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.

The Miners kept the Bulldogs to 16 points below their seasonal scoring average (80.1 ppg) entering the contest.

Twelve different UTEP players appeared in the contest for the Orange and Blue, who were without the services of Keonte Kennedy (13.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.1 spg) and Christian Agnew (5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg).

Furthermore, the Miners utilized their nation-leading 12th different starting line-up in 14 contests. 

“Credit to LA Tech, they’re really well coached and have good players,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “I was really proud of our effort in the second half. We played some guys that hadn’t had a lot of opportunity, and they played really hard. Obviously, JB (Jamal Bieniemy) was special.”

Bieniemy certainly was, finishing 10-21 from the floor, including 6-11 on 3-point shots.

All of those set collegiate career bests. Souley Boum netted eight points and secured a team-best six rebounds.

Tydus Verhoeven pitched in five points and four boards while Alfred Hollins had four and four.

LA Tech was paced by Cobe Williams (17 points) and Kenneth Lofton, Jr. (11 points, 18 boards).

The two sides combined to misfire on their first 13 shots over the first four-and-a half minutes of the contest, with LA Tech up, 1-0, on a free throw by Lofton, Jr. for LA Tech the only points in the game.

The Bulldogs pushed the margin to 5-0 before Bieniemy caught fire.

He drilled buckets on three consecutive baskets to propel UTEP ahead at 8-7.

LA Tech had an answer in the form of a 15-2 run to suddenly lead, 22-10, with 8:04 remaining in the opening frame.

A reverse lay-up from Verhoeven ended the sequence, but LA Tech unleashed another 8-0 push to make it 30-12.

Saterfield stopped that push by splashing home a long trey, UTEP’s third of the contest to get it to 30-15 with 3:47 to play in the frame.

Bieniemy simply refused to let the Bulldogs pull away, though, finishing the first half with an astounding 20 points on 7-12 shooting, including 4-6 from 3-point range, to keep it a 16-point contest (41-25) heading into the locker room.

It was a similar start to the second half as at the onset of the game, with the two teams combining for six points over the first four minutes of action.

The deficit was 15 (53-38) with 7:20 to play in the contest before UTEP began to make its move, fittingly with Bieniemy starting an 8-0 surge with five straight points.

The deficit got all the way down to seven (53-46) before LA Tech responded with seven in a row.

Boum buried a triple to end the sequence and make it a 10-point differential (60-50) with 2:50 to go.

The Orange and Blue narrowed to single digits before the Bulldogs held on.

UTEP will welcome Southern Miss to town for a 7 p.m. tip-off on Saturday (Jan. 8). For tickets, fans may call the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office at (915) 747-UTEP, email tickets@utep.edu, visit www.UTEPMiners.com/tickets or in person (Brumbelow Building on UTEP campus, 201 Glory Road).

UTEP Athletics

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