Cold shooting dooms UTEP in loss to UC Riverside; Agnew, Boum out due to COVID-19 protocols


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – At 10 a.m. on Monday, UTEP men’s basketball coach Joe Golding found out he would be without leading scorer Souley Boum as well as Christian Agnew due to COVID-19 protocols.

The day got even worse for UTEP with a 52-40 loss to UC Riverside at home in the Cerebro Sports Golden Turkey Classic. The Miners shot 26% from the floor and 1-24 from three-point range, dooming them to the defeat.

The Miners sorely missed Agnew and Boum, who will also be out for UTEP’s game vs. Florida A&M on Wednesday, Golding confirmed. UTEP’s next game beyond that isn’t until Dec. 3 at home vs. New Mexico State, which would be the absolute earliest Agnew and Boum would return.

“We’re following the regulations of our university,” said Golding. “I’m proud of our team, they’ve done a good job with COVID. For the most part we’ve been vaccinated, but obviously it hit us this morning. We got a phone call this morning and we lost those two guys. Obviously we want them to be safe, too. COVID is a real deal, we’re still dealing with it and we want to protect our student-athletes.”

UTEP’s current COVID-19 policies state that unvaccinated individuals must continue to test regularly and quarantine if they come in contact with someone who has tested positive. Vaccinated individuals are largely spared from those regulations. The duo of Agnew and Boum were the only Miners – players, coaches and staff members – that were not on the bench on Monday.

On the court, the Miners struggled to get going without them. Despite an 11-0 run to take an eight-point lead midway through the first half, poor shooting led to a 23-19 lead for UC Riverside at halftime.

UTEP’s strong defense kept them in the contest for the majority of it, as they limited the Highlanders to 43% shooting, forcing 18 turnovers. However, the cold shooting eventually became too much to overcome.

After Jamal Bieniemy hit UTEP’s only triple of the game to bring the Miners within one point, 37-36, with 7:04 remaining in the game, the Miners managed just four more points the rest of the way, going 1-10 from the field.

I’m proud of our guys defensively,” Golding said. “I don’t think effort was the problem tonight. We guarded a really good basketball team. When you hold a team to 52 points, especially at home, you’ve got to find a way to win the game. We just have to figure out a way to get the ball in the basket.”

Bieniemy (11 points) was the lone Miner in double figures while Tydus Verhoeven (six points, six rebounds) and Kennedy (six points, three boards) also pitched in.

UTEP will be back in action on Wednesday as they host Florida A&M at 7 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center.

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