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UTEP loses first C-USA Opener to Marshall, 76-60

Sports

POSTED: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 10:15pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 11:40pm

Dennis Tinnon had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Marshall whipped UTEP on the boards in a 76-60 win on Wednesday at the Cam Henderson Center.

The Herd (10-4, 1-0 C-USA) posted its first victory over the Miners (7-8, 0-1 C-USA) in eight games since joining Conference USA. UTEP had its string of seven straight wins in conference openers snapped.

“They just thoroughly manhandled us on the offensive boards, and that was a big part of the game,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.

With 10:27 to go in the first half, the Miners led 18-10 and were outrebounding the Herd 7-3. But Marshall closed the half with a 29-16 run, securing 12 of the game’s 13 rebounds during that stretch.

Shaquille Johnson keyed the spurt by scoring 10 of his 12 points during a span of 3:09 from the 7:01 mark to 3:52. Reserve Nigel Spikes was also a big contributor in the first half, scoring four of his eight points in the final three minutes – including a tip dunk at the buzzer that send the Herd to the locker room with a 39-34 lead.

“Our early foul trouble with our bigs contributed to two baskets that Shaq Johnson made,” Floyd said. “We had a lead and they kind of got their heads up and got the crowd into the game when we had a couple of defensive breakdowns.”

The Miners were unable to mount a rally after falling behind 53-38 with 13:14 to play on Dago Pena’s second straight three pointer. That capped an 11-2 run.

The Herd outrebounded the Miners 42-23 and enjoyed an 18-8 edge in second chance points.

“When they get it going, they’re as talented as anybody we’ve played, including Kansas State and UNLV,” Floyd said. “They rebound like those two teams. That’s why they’re so dangerous. They got very solid guard play tonight from [DeAndre] Kane, and [Damier] Pitts and Shaq. Their depth, I think, is very good and they were just the better team tonight.”

Julian Washburn scored 15 points for the Miners, Jacques Streeter 12 and John Bohannon 11. UTEP shot 66.7 percent in the first half, then made just 8-of-29 shots over the final 20 minutes while being outscored 37-26.

“We had to go manufacture out of the half-court offense against an aggressive defense tonight,” Floyd said.

Cedrick Lang and Gabriel McCulley both fouled out after playing 18 and 23 minutes respectively, and Bohannon didn’t play the final 8:25 after going to the bench with four fouls.

“This is a game of easy baskets and they won the easy basket game tonight –- offensive putback backets and transition backets, and it was all in direct relation to their ability to rebound,” Floyd said.

The Miners will take on Houston in the C-USA home opener on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tim Hardaway’s #10 will be retired at halftime, and Washburn will wear #4 the rest of the season. In addition, orange t-shirts will be presented to the first 3,000 fans on “Miner Strong Night.”
 

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