POSTED: Sunday, November 13, 2011 - 7:21pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 14, 2011 - 1:56pm
Julian Washburn scored 14 points, and fellow freshman Hooper Vint hit back-to-back three pointers at an opportune time late in the second half, as UTEP beat UC Riverside, 52-41, for its first win of the 2011-12 season on Sunday at the Don Haskins Center.
"A lot of positive things that happened out there tonight," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "I thought we handled the ball better. Had we turned it over like we did against UTSA [Friday], we wouldn't have won the game. And our guys that didn't start came in and handled it pretty well for the most part."
The Miners took an 11-point lead (39-28) on two free throws by Jacques Streeter with 9:01 remaining in the game, only to see the Highlanders storm back and pull within two (39-37) on a layup by Kareem Nitoto with 6:07 remaining. After Cedrick Lang's free throw pushed UTEP's lead to three, Vint nailed back-to-back bombs -- the first with 4:54 left and the second with 4:21 to go -- to extend the lead to 46-37. UTEP wasn't threatened thereafter, pushing the lead to as many as 13 points.
"I did hear from one of our players that on his visit, in jeans and a t-shirt, Hooper made 21 free throws in a row and 11 threes in a row. That's why he's going to be ok one day," Floyd said. "He runs well, he's got good hands, he can catch it and he's got good touch. He just has to learn how to play defensively and offensively. He'll grow and he'll get better and better."
For the second straight game, UTEP had a +10 rebound margin, as the Miners (1-1) secured 37 caroms to the Highlanders' (1-1) 27. The Miners also lowered their turnover tally from 21 in the opener against UTSA to 17, and made 6-of-9 three pointers in the second half to pull away after the teams combined for 34 first half points.
Nitoto scored 12 points for UC Riverside, which didn't score until nearly seven minutes into the game and trailed 10-4 with less than seven minutes left in the half.
UC Riverside led for the last time at 16-15 on Nitoto's two free throws with 51 seconds left in the period. But Jacques Streeter's three pointer with 28 seconds to go sent the Miners into the locker room with an 18-16 lead, and they didn't trail again.
Streeter scored 12 points with four assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes, and D'Von Campbell chipped in with 10 points. Washburn, Streeter, Campbell and Vint (eight points) combined to score 44 of the team's 52 points.
Floyd also lauded Washburn's defensive effort on UCR guard Phil Martin, who had scored 33 points in an exhibition game earlier this season.
"The job he did was absolutely terrific, limiting his catches and touches and staying between him and the basket," Floyd said. "He's a great driver and really someone that they rely on."
The Miners will return to action at I-10 rival NM State on Saturday (Nov. 19) at 6 p.m.