Miners Lose To Lobos
POSTED: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 8:58pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 9:45pm
– Drew Gordon and Kendall Williams scored 18 points apiece as New Mexico knocked off UTEP, 69-57, in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday at The Pit.
UTEP’s season ends with a 25-10 record. New Mexico climbed to 22-12 and will play at Alabama in the second round this weekend.
The Lobos took their first lead of the night, 22-21, on a layup by A.J. Hardeman with 6:39 remaining in the first half. It was part of a 10-0 New Mexico run that turned a 21-17 deficit into a 27-21 lead.
UTEP trailed 34-30 at the half. The Lobos scored the first six points of the second half to surge ahead 40-30.
The Miners trailed by only four points (45-41) when Isaac Gordon scored on a fast break layup with 9:46 remaining, but New Mexico reinstated a 10-point lead (51-41) on back-to-back three pointers by Phillip McDonald with under eight minutes to go. UTEP couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the night.
The loss ends the careers of eight Miner seniors, including the team’s top four scorers – Randy Culpepper, Christian Polk, Jeremy Williams and Julyan Stone. Culpepper led UTEP with 23 points, giving him 2,338 for his career – second-most in school and Conference USA history. Stone had one assist on Tuesday to cap his career with 714, most in C-USA and UTEP annals.
UTEP was outrebounded for the 20th time in 35 games, this time 41-26. The Miners were 15-0 this season when outrebounding opponents and break-even (10-10) when losing the battle of the boards.
UTEP will have a rebuilt roster for the 2011-12 season with only three returning letterwinners – John Bohannon, Gabriel McCulley and Michael Perez. McCulley will be the team’s lone senior next year.