UTEP begins Golding era with win over WNMU, 85-57


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Jamal Bieniemy poured in 23 points, Keonte Kennedy flirted with a double-double (11 points, six rebounds), and the Joe Golding era at UTEP is off to a 1-0 start following the Miners 85-57 win over Western New Mexico at the Don Haskins Center on Tuesday night.

Playing in front of 6,751 fans at ‘The Don’ — the largest crowd in a season opener in six years — the Miners could do no wrong in Golding’s first game as the head coach. UTEP dished out 19 assists and forced 26 Mustang turnovers. The Miners shot 50.0 percent from the floor (31-62), including 42.2 percent from downtown (12-28).

“Defense is something that we’re trying to establish here,” Golding said. “It fits the Don Haskins Center. We’ve got to continue to build on that. Both halves we were able to turn them over. We’ve got to rebound the basketball better, but give them credit. They’re a good rebounding team.”

The Miners have now won 10 straight season openers, improving to 38-4 in season lid lifters at the Don Haskins Center. 

“Gameday was awesome. The crowd was great and there was a lot of energy, especially when we went on a couple of runs,” Golding said. “I’m very thankful to the city of El Paso. It feels great [to get the first win]. It was exciting to be out there, and I’m humbled and thankful to be the head coach.”

Bieniemy was locked in all night, but especially during that opening half. He poured in 16 of UTEP’s 36 points in the period, shooting 6-10, including 4-7 from 3-point range. Bieniemy knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers on the night.

“I’m just trying to be a leader out there for my team, and I’m just trying to make plays. The shots went in tonight,” Bieniemy said. “It was the flow of the game and it’s going to be someone different every night. We have to keep working and whenever that opportunity comes, we have to make the most of it.”

Playing in their first game as UTEP Miners, Jorell Saterfield scored nine points while Bonke Maring added eight points in the win. Golding went 12 players deep in the season opener, with 11 players in the score column.

UTEP returns to the floor on Saturday night when they travel 40 miles up I-10 for their first game against rival New Mexico State since 2019. Tip-off at the Pan American Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT.

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