EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP men’s basketball gave the second-best team in Conference USA a run for their money but fell short as they suffered an 80-72 overtime loss to North Texas at the Don Haskins Center on Saturday.
“It was kind of a wild and crazy game,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “We had two tough teams competing that value the same things. When that happens it sometimes looks ugly, but there’s a lot of beauty in that too. We’re fighting for that inch, and we’ve been fighting for it all year.
“We made our run until about the eight-minute mark of the second half when they hit some big shots,” Golding said. “I thought they were the more aggressive team down the stretch, and we just ran out of juice and ran out of bodies. We competed; you just have to give them (North Texas) credit.”
It was a neck-and-neck game the whole way as they game had nine ties and nine lead changes. UTEP put itself in a great spot with 36 seconds left in the game after Shamar Givance connected with Calvin Solomon for an alley-oop to take a 61-60 lead.
Shortly after, North Texas’ Tylor Perry hit a clutch three-pointer with 18 seconds left to put the Mean Green up 63-61.
In UTEP’s next possession, the Miners went for the win as Tae Hardy took a three-point but missed wide left. Otis Frazier III grabbed the miss and was then fouled and sent to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game.
After missing the first free throw, Frazier intentionally missed the second and Calvin Solomon was at the right place at the right time for the rebound and putback to tie the game at 63 and force overtime.
In overtime, North Texas shot 5-of-6 from the field and outscored UTEP 17-9 to secure an 80-72 win.
Tae Hardy led UTEP in scoring with 18 points. Hardy also hauled in six rebounds. Shamar Givance recorded 16 points. Ze’Rik Onyemna had 14 points and four rebounds. Calvin Solomon contributed 12 points, four assists and three rebounds. UTEP shot 43.1% (22-51) from the floor and 20% (3-15) from three-point land.
North Texas was led by Tylor Perry who scored 20 points. Kai Huntsberry had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. Rubin Jones finished with 11 points and Matthew Stone collected 10 points. North Texas shot 54.2% (26-48) from the floor and 45.5% (10-22) from three.
UTEP (12-15, 5-11 Conference USA) will now hit the road for their next two contests. UTEP will play at FIU on Thursday, Feb. 23 and then play at Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Feb. 25.