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UTEP clipped by league-leading LA Tech, 65-59

(Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)

EL PASO, Texas - Junior Derick Hamilton came off the bench to pour in a career-high 16 points, and the UTEP men’s basketball team gave first-place LA Tech everything it could handle before falling, 65-59, inside the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.

There were a ridiculous 18 lead changes, to go along with nine ties, but the Bulldogs (19-8, 9-3 CUSA) managed to wrestle control late.

The Miners (13-14, 4-8 CUSA) tied it at 55 following a 3-pointer from Tae Hardy with 4:20 to play, but LA Tech regained the lead immediately and held on down the stretch.

Free throws were big, with the Bulldogs finishing 11-17 (all in the second half) compared to UTEP going 3-5 (1-1 in second half).

UTEP spent plenty of time in the paint (30-20 point in paint advantage) but LA Tech’s big front line swatted seven shots to make it tough sledding at time.

Another factor was the Bulldogs holding a 45-28 advantage on the boards, aided by a 15-8 differential in offensive rebounds.

Neither team shot it particularly well, with UTEP connecting on 38.7 percent (24-62) and the visitors finishing at 42.6 percent (23-54).

Both squads knocked down eight 3-pointers. The Miners registered 13 steals on 18 forced turnovers, which they converted into 14 points.

Corey Camper Jr. joined Hamilton in double figures with 10 points while Hardy added nine.

No other Miner had more than five points in the contest. Hamilton stole the show offensively by making 8-10 from the floor (both career highs) in a career-most 19 minutes.

Otis Frazier III registered a team-high seven rebounds while Calvin Solomon registered a squad-best four steals in 14 minutes off the pine.

Zid Powell dished out six of UTEP’s 19 assists in the game.

The Miners also had only 10 turnovers in the contest, but eight came in the final 20 minutes of action.

David Terrell Jr. tallied five points to go along with five assists and three steals off the bench as well.

Overall, UTEP had a 31-10 advantage in bench scoring but the Bulldogs overcame that as well.

LA Tech was paced by 20 points and nine rebounds from Tahlik Chavez while Isaiah Crawford added 19 points and eight caroms. Daniel Batcho scored 11 points to go along with five rebounds and five blocked shots, although Hamilton was able to score at ease each time he went up against the fellow 6’11 forward. 

“Rebounding was key and just our offense in the second half,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “We had eight turnovers in the second half and didn’t play off two feet as much. We didn’t get fouled. Rebounding was huge, they get 15 offensive rebounds. I thought that was the difference in the second half. Obviously, we don’t get to the free-throw line. We get there five times, they get there 17 times. We’ve got to be stronger and tougher and go in there and demand to be fouled.”

LA Tech got on the board first with a 3-pointer, but UTEP blitzed back in the form of a 7-0 run.

Frazier III started it with a nifty lay-up off the feed from Powell.

A baby hook shot from Hamilton put the home side ahead and Frazier III capped the surge by burying a triple.

LA Tech halted the sequence with a 3-pointer before a reverse lay-up from Hamilton.

Another trey on the ensuing possession for the visitors tied the tilt, 9-9, heading to the first media timeout. A 5-0 push out of the break by the Bulldogs, aided by their fourth triple of the game already, broke the deadlock before a slam by Solomon ended that. LA Tech immediately nudged the margin back to five (16-11, 12:26, 1H), but UTEP’s defense allowed it to claw back into the game.

The Miners held the Bulldogs scoreless over the next five minutes on the way to tying the tilt at 16 at the eight-minute media timeout. Powell split through traffic and dodged a defender in the air to bank home a lay-up, which was followed by a Camper Jr. free throw. Hamilton then used good touch on a shot to wrap up the mini 5-0 run.

The two sides traded baskets the next couple of trips, including a ridiculous finish in transition by Powell where he used a lot of English in the shot to get the bank to go. The Miners then crept ahead by four (25-21), with four straight points. It was another Powell lay-up on the find from Frazier III, which was followed by a picture-perfect fastbreak possession. UTEP came up with a steal and Jon Dos Anjos finished at the rim in transition on the touch pass by Hardy.

The Miners were up by five (28-23, 3:19, 1H) before LA Tech tallied six in a row to snag a one-point advantage. Terrell Jr. buried a wide-open trey to stop the slide, which afforded the Orange and Blue a 31-29 lead heading into halftime.

Each squad got a 3-pointer to start the second half, with Hardy filling his up in transition after LA Tech had buried one on its first offensive trip of the stanza.

UTEP dialed up a beautiful play out of the 16-minute media timeout, with Trey Horton III knocking down the 3-pointer to give the home side a 40-37 cushion.

After LA regained the lead at 44-42, Dos Anjos drilled a trey from the top of the key to put the Orange and Blue up one.

It was back-and-forth over the next couple of minutes, with a pair of Hamilton baskets, keeping the Miners in front by one (49-48, 7:52, 2H). 

After a couple of empty tripes from each side, a corner trey by the Bulldogs switched the lead again. It was short-lived, as Camper Jr’s hoop and harm put UTEP back up one.

LA Tech responded immediately with its own old-fashioned 3-point play to secure a 54-52 edge with 5:22 remaining in regulation.

It was 55-52 after a charity stripe toss before Hardy drained a 3-pointer to tie at 55 (4:20, 2H).

LA Tech scored on the very next trip to go out by a pair (57-55) and eventually inched it to four (59-55, 1:54) before Hamilton scored with a deft shot at the rim to end a UTEP drought and make it a two-point affair (59-57, 1:38, 2H).

The Miners came up with a steal but turned it over before they could get a shot off to either tie or pull back into the lead.

The Bulldogs capitalized at the other end, putting UTEP down four (61-57) with less than a minute to play. The Miners could get no closer, as LA Tech held on for the win.

UTEP wraps up the two-game homestand against the cream of the crop in Conference USA by playing host to co-league leader Sam Houston at 7 p.m. MT Saturday.

It will be a special evening, with one of coach Don Haskins's best teams, the 1983-84 Miners, making their way back to El Paso for a 40th-anniversary celebration. 

UTEP opened the season with 15 consecutive victories and rose to as high as fifth in the nation, before finishing 27-4 and ranked no. 9 by the Associated Press.

The Miners were 21-0 at home. 

UTEP finished 13-3 in WAC play in the midst of a run to five consecutive league titles. 

The Miners' top scorers were Fred Reynolds (13.9 ppg), Luster Goodwin (10.5 ppg), Kent Lockhart (9.0 ppg) and Kevin Hamilton (8.6 ppg). 

Jon Teicher (43rd year) and Steve Yellen (21st year) will be on the call on "The Home of UTEP Basketball" 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App for both. Each contest will also stream on ESPN+ (subscription required, with Mando Medina (play-by-play) and former Miner (Hooper Vint) describing the action. Tickets start as low as $9.15. For more information, please visit or call (915) 747-UTEP.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP

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Adrian Ochoa

Adrian Ochoa is ABC-7’s Sports Director.


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