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UTEP stifles Western New Mexico, 85-57, in season-opening win; first win for UTEP head coach Joe Golding

EL PASO, Texas - Jamal Bieniemy poured in 23 points (one shy of career high), including a career-high tying five 3-pointers, and UTEP played with plenty of energy in a season-opening 85-57 vanquishing of Division II Western New Mexico in front of 6,751 fans at the Don Haskins Center Tuesday evening.

It marked the largest crowd in a season opener in six years.

Keonte Kennedy flirted with a double-double (11 points, six rebounds) to join Bieniemy in double figures for scoring.

It marked Kennedy’s 25th consecutive contest with points.

Jorell Saterfield tallied a bench-high nine points, all in the second half.

Bonke Maring added eight points (3-5 FG) and three boards. Emmanuel White (seven points), Jamari Sibley (six points) and Christian Agnew (six points).

UTEP dished out 19 assists, with Bieniemy leading the way while at four while Alfred Hollins and Kezza Giffa each had three. 

The Miners connected on 50.0 percent from the floor (31-62), including 42.2 percent from downtown (12-28). UTEP’s pressure defense caused WNMU fits.

The Mustangs were forced into 26 turnovers that the Orange and Blue turned into 28 points.

It marked the first career victory in the Sun City for head coach Joe Golding.

The Miners have now won 10 straight and 56 of the past 61 season openers. Additionally, UTEP improves to 38-4 in season lid lifters at the Don Haskins Center. 

“Defense is something that we’re trying to establish here,” Golding said. “It fits the Don Haskins Center. We’ve got to continue to build on that. Both halves we were able to turn them over. We’ve got to rebound the basketball better, but give them credit. They’re a good rebounding team.

“Game day was awesome. The crowd was great and there was a lot of energy, especially when we went on a couple of runs,” Golding said. “I’m very thankful to the city of El Paso. It feels great (to get the first win). It was exciting to be out there, and I’m humbled and thankful to be the head coach.”

UTEP scored the first three points of the game before WNMU countered with a little run to grab a 6-5 edge with 17:51 to play in the opening half.

The Miners then ramped up their defense, resulting in the Mustangs going scoreless for more than nine minutes.

The home side would take advantage, running off 16 consecutive points to grab its largest advantage (15) of the opening period.

WNMU regrouped and peeled off eight in a row to climb within seven, but the Miners wouldn’t let them get any closer the remainder of the stanza.

After UTEP reinstated a 15-point lead, WNMU whittled it down to 10 (36-26) at the break.

Bieniemy was locked in all night, but especially during that opening half.

He poured in 16 of UTEP’s 36 points in the period on a solid 6-10 shooting, including 4-7 from 3-point range.

WNMU continued to hang around early in the second half with the Miner advantage standing at 3 (49-36) with 14:59 to play.

But UTEP quickly found another gear, ripping off eight points in a row to pull ahead by 21 (57-36) in blistering two-and-a-half minute sequence.

The Miners put it on ice the rest of the way, on the way to capping the BLANK-point win.

UTEP returns to action when it heads up I-10 to battle longtime rival NM State at 7 p.m. MT Saturday (Nov. 13). Steve Kaplowitz and former Miner Hooper Vint will be on the call, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App.

UTEP Athletics

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