EL PASO, Texas - New UTEP Head Men's basketball coach Joe Golding lost his I-10 rivalry debut against a more-experienced New Mexico State team on Saturday night. But it was how Golding's team fought in the final three minutes that showed him the early progress his program is making.
"I was proud of our fight," said Golding of his team's 14-3 run over the final four minutes. "Obviously there's a lot of things that gotta get corrected."
"But I was proud of the fight, the grit, and we didn't fold. We continued to compete for 40 minutes, so proud of that effort of our team."
Marking the sign of a Golding team, the Miners forced 16 New Mexico State turnovers. Eleven of those turnovers came in the first half, with UTEP only trailing by five at the break.
But in the second half, Golding admits his team was worn down.
"They wore us down so we need to play more guys. I think we played some guys too many minutes and they wore down. So we got to continue to build depth and continue to build a roster to play."
UTEP now sits at 1-1 with a home game Tuesday against Northern New Mexico College, before traveling to Pacific on Friday night.
The Tigers (1-2) are just two years removed from a season in which they went 23-10, but are in their first season under the direction of coach Leonard Perry.
When former coach and NBA guard Damon Stoudamire left Pacific in July to take on an assistant role with the Boston Celtics, the Tigers elevated Perry into the head role. Also a veteran of the NBA landscape, Perry spent six seasons with the Indiana Pacers as an assistant.
Golding is hoping his team's first long-distance road trip will help team chemistry.
"Pacific's got a good ballclub, it's a tough place to play. We played there 4 or 5 years ago when I was at Abilene Christian, so there's not a whole lot do in Stockton, California."
"I don't know if you've been up there. So hopefully we can spend some time together, continue to bond. It's a business trip. We'll fly in and fly out."
Golding added that he will continue to tinker with the team's starting lineup, as well as ease in returning leading scorer Souley Boum from a broken finger.
Boum came off the bench at New Mexico State and scored 21 points.
Watch the attached clip for the full one-on-one interview with Joe Golding on the "ABC-7 UTEP Coaches Show" hosted by Nate Ryan.