EL PASO – Bryson Williams scored a game-high 23 points, while Souley Boum recorded his first career double-double (12 points) on a career-high 10 rebounds, but Marshall, which entered the contest averaging 7.1 three-pointers per game, hit 12 from beyond the arc to defeat UTEP, 71-61, on Saturday afternoon in the Haskins Center.
The Miners (13-14, 4-10 Conference USA) shot 35.0 percent and fell under .500 for the first time this season, while losing their fifth consecutive game. The Thundering Herd (13-14, 7-7 C-USA) evened their league mark, as their bench outscored UTEP, 31-3. Marshall shot 42.4 percent (25-59), including 38.7 percent from three-point distance.
UTEP took an early 11-3 lead at the 14:10 mark, but Marshall answered with a 13-0 run and never looked back.
“I give Marshall credit for coming in and doing things it does very well. They’re a really good shooting team and rebounds the ball well,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “I thought our guys had great urgency early in the game. But we had not-so-stellar play from our guards in terms of not making great decisions with the ball, which quickly turned the game around the other way.
For Williams, it was his highest point total since Feb. 1 (26 points vs. UAB) in 39 minutes of action. Daryl Edwards tallied 14 points in 39 minutes, while Tydus Verhoeven, who made his first start since Christmas Day, tallied a season-high five rebounds, a career-tying four steals and four points. Boum played all 40 minutes, shooting 3-for-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line.
UTEP was down by as many as 13 points (48-35 at the 14:29 mark), but cut the deficit to seven points on a pair of occasions with under 9:34 to play and got within six points early in the second half.
The first half was a game of runs. The Miners, after being down 3-0, scored 11 consecutive points. Marshall answered that with a 13-0 run to take a 16-11 lead. UTEP scored the next five points to tie contest at 16, while the Herd put up five-consecutive of their own for a 21-16 lead. After trading buckets, Jordan Lathon hit a midrange jumper to get the Miners within two points, 24-22. But Marshall used a 12-4 rundown the stretch to take a 36-26 halftime lead.
The Thundering Herd hit 50.0 percent (9-18) of their three-pointers in the first half, as Mikel Byers went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Beyers led Marshall with 18 points off the bench, while Jannson Williams tallied 14 points and Taevion Kinsley followed with 11 points. Jarrod West dished out a game-high eight assists, while recording six rebounds and five points.
UTEP find out its next four games as the league will make the “Bonus Play” schedule official on Sunday. The Miners, along with Southern Miss (5-9), Rice (5-9) and Middle Tennessee are the bottom four teams.