EL PASO, Texas -- UTEP battled to the end to hold on and defeat LA Tech 60-55 and open conference play 1-0.
Tae Hardy led the team with 15 points and it turned out that every single one of them was needed because the Miners and Bulldogs would go down to the wire.
UTEP got out to a 10-point lead several times in the second half but their free-throws, or lack there of (15-34) allowed LA Tech back in the game.
“The narrative out there is going to be the free-throw shooting. Absolutely we need to get better making free throws,” Head Coach Golding said. “We’re practicing free throws. We’re going to get better at it. We all understand that, but we just beat a really good basketball team and we were 15-37 at the free-throw line. Why did we beat a good team? We got back to who we are defensively."
The Miner defense held the Bulldogs to just four threes and 29% from the floor.
"We had some toughness plays, multiple effort plays all night," Golding said. "That’s growth for me with our locker room."
The win sees the Miners start conference play undefeated for the first time since 2015-16, they are also now 7-0 at home.
UTEP will be back at home on Wednesday for the 61st annual WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational where they will play North Carolina A&T at 7:30 p.m. MT. Win that game and they could very well play New Mexico State in the final of the tournament.