Miners squander lead, still winless on the road
POSTED: Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 11:19pm
UPDATED: Sunday, January 29, 2012 - 7:07pm
Jonathon Simmons scored 18 of his 25 points after halftime, and Houston rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat UTEP, 81-76 in overtime, on Saturday night at Hofheinz Pavilion.
The Miners (10-11, 3-4 C-USA) led 38-23 late in the first half, and 58-47 with a little over six minutes to play before the Cougars (11-9, 3-4 C-USA) stormed back to register the eighth win in their last nine home games. UTEP fell to 0-7 on the road.
Back-to-back three-point plays - one by TaShawn Thomas and the other by Alandise Harris - enabled the Cougars to cut the 58-47 lead down to 58-53 in the blink of an eye. The Miners reinstated an eight-point lead (63-55) with 4:46 to go on a three-pointer by Julian Washburn, but went four minutes without a field goal until John Bohannon's layup tied the game at 66 with 50 seconds to play.
Following a missed three by Simmons, UTEP had a chance to take the final shot. Jacques Streeter drove and kicked to an open C.J. Cooper for the three pointer, but officials reviewed the play and ruled that the basket came after time expired.
The Miners regrouped to forge a four-point lead in overtime (76-72) on a jumper by Michael Perez with 49 seconds to go, but that turned out to be UTEP's final points of the game as Houston closed the contest on a 9-0 run.
The killer was a three-point play by Simmons with 34 seconds left, giving Houston the lead for good, 77-76. The Miners turned the ball over twice in the final 40 seconds up 76-74 and down 77-76.
UTEP's Gabriel McCulley and Cedrick Lang both fouled out after playing 18 and 25 minutes respectively. Washburn and Perez ended the game with four fouls.
"I was really pleased with our guys' effort," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "I thought we played with great poise on the offensive end. I thought we had great execution on the offensive end. I think the foul trouble to McCulley and Lang affected our matchups. We had different guys having to guard other people and as a result our defense got worse because we started getting beat off the drive and off the dribble. We also lost two of our top three rebounders, which put us in harm's way on the glass late in the ball game. When they did shoot and miss, they were able to secure the rebound and put it back in."
Bohannon recorded his fourth double-double in the last eight games with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Washburn had 16 points and eight boards. Perez and McCulley scored 12 and 11 respectively.
"I thought John Bohannon played great," Floyd said. "I thought Cedrick, for not practicing all week, played hard and played smart. I thought Gabe was terrific when he was in there. It was just the foul trouble really affected us in terms of our screen and roll coverage, our ability to front the post, our ability to rebound and our ability to guard the drives. It allowed them to get back into the game, and it forced us to play zone defense, which we didn't want to do."
The Miners outshot Houston 46.7 percent to 43.3 percent. But they were outrebounded 26-21 and outscored 28-14 in the paint after halftime, with their big men mired in foul trouble.
Harris (15 points/12 rebounds) and Thomas (16 points/12 rebounds) both had double-doubles for the Cougars.
UTEP will return to El Paso on Sunday, then ship back out to Houston two days later for a Wednesday matchup with Rice.