UTEP drops Conference USA opener at FIU, 69-67


Photo Courtesy: Michael Berlfein

MIAMI, FL (KTSM) – Daryl Edwards led UTEP with a game-high 20 points, while Bryson Williams tallied 12 points and nine rebounds, but the Miners (9-5, 0-1) rally would fall short in a 69-67 loss to FIU on Thursday at Ocean Bank Convocation Center.

UTEP trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, but the Panthers (10-4, 1-0) outscored the Miners 9-4 in the final five minutes of the game.

UTEP head coach Rodney Terry missed the game due to an allergic reaction and was admitted to the hospital in the Miami area on Wednesday night. First-year assistant coach Kenton Paulino took his place on the sideline.

“Coach [Rodney] Terry wanted to be here and he’s doing much, much better,” said Paulino. “[The hospital] wanted to hold him for a certain period of time and they wouldn’t let him go, but he’s ready to get back to work.”

After FIU led the entire first half, there were seven ties and four lead changes during the second period.

“We didn’t play nowhere what we’re capable of playing in the first half,” said Paulino. “We gave away 20 minutes, as we didn’t do a good job at taking care of the ball in the first half. We talked about guarding the three-point line and [FIU] got a lot of good looks.”

The Miners outrebounded the Panthers, 43-37, while grabbing a season-high 14 offensive boards. UTEP dished out 16 assists, which was the most in a league game since January 6, 2018 (17 at La Tech). However, the Miners committed 17 turnovers, 13 of them coming in the first half.

Edwards had the hot hand, shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. Deon Stroud came off the bench in the first half, scoring 10 points and pulling down four rebounds – all on the offensive end. Souley Boum recorded seven rebounds with a trio of assists, while Eric Vila led the squad with five assists and chipped in with five points and six rebounds.

Nigel Hawkins and Anthony Tarke made their first starts this season, following the departure of Jordan Lathon (transfer). Hawkins tallied nine points, four assists and four rebounds. Tarke registered eight rebounds and two steals.

Though the Miners cut down their turnovers in the second half, two of them were recorded with under four minutes remaining in the game, proving to be very costly in the end.

Devon Andrews led FIU with 16 points, while Osasumwen Osaghae ripped down 12 rebounds, nine points and four blocked shots, setting a new program record for career blocks.

With the loss, UTEP has now dropped 19 consecutive road games. The Miners will look to put an end to that streak on Saturday at FAU. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. MT.

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