POSTED: Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 10:05pm
UPDATED: Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 10:36pm
Jalen Ragland scored a career-high 17 points, and UTEP withstood an ice-cold final 12 minutes before dispatching Idaho, 64-60, on Saturday at the Haskins Center.
The Miners (3-4) scored just two field goals over the final 12:15, and nearly lost all of an 18-point lead. UTEP opened the second half with a 20-5 run to go ahead 52-34 on a jumper by Julian Washburn with 12:16 remaining, but the Vandals (3-5) outscored the Miners 24-8 over the next 10:43. Idaho pulled within two points twice in the final minute and a half, but couldn’t pull off its second huge comeback in two nights. The Vandals erased a 17-point second half deficit in an 81-79 overtime win at Eastern Washington on Thursday.
“We gave up the lead because we didn’t defensive rebound,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They just pounded us there for about an eight or nine-minute stretch on the glass. They guarded us really well. They got out of their zone stuff and went man-to-man and we were able to get fouled, but not complete any plays. I thought their man-to-man was very effective the last 12 minutes of the game.”
After the Vandals’ Stephen Madison made two free throws to close the gap to 60-58 with 1:32 remaining, UTEP’s John Bohannon missed a jumper and Wendell Faines secured the defensive rebound. The crowd of 8,039 breathed a sigh of relief when Madison missed a potential go-ahead three pointer with 1:07 to play. Jacques Streeter answered with a jumper to push the Miners’ lead to 64-60. Robert Harris’ bucket cut the Vandals’ deficit to two once again (62-60) with 12 seconds to go, but Washburn iced it with free throws.
“We had poise,” Floyd said. “We didn’t turn it over, and you’ve got to be able to make free throws when you get fouled. That was probably the biggest key for us tonight.”
UTEP finished 14-for-18 from the line and committed eight turnovers in posting consecutive victories for the first time this season. The Miners also shot a season-high 52.3 percent from the field in moving to 3-0 at home.
The Vandals’ two leading scorers, Madison and Kyle Barone, combined for 14 points and three field goals. They were averaging 33.6 ppg between them coming in, and had combined for 49 points on Thursday.
Ragland made three three-pointers for the first time in his UTEP career. Julian Washburn added 16 points, and Bohannon registered his eighth career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Streeter had seven assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes.
Connor Hill buried five three pointers and was the only Vandal in double figures with 16 points.
Idaho posted 19 wins last season, and hung around in the second half in losses to New Mexico and Washington State on the road earlier this year.
“We’re real pleased with the win. That’s a team that is very skilled and can shoot it,” Floyd said.
The Miners will take a nine-day break between games to focus on finals before hosting a pair of top-25 caliber teams -- UNLV on Monday, Dec. 17 and Oregon on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Tip-off for both games is 6 p.m. MT.