MIAMI – Shamar Givance posted a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists, Ze’Rik Onyema poured in a career-high 19 points and UTEP shot a sizzling 58.7 percent from the floor on the way to securing a wire-to-wire 87-82 victory at FIU Thursday.
Otis Frazier III (15 points) and Calvin Solomon (13 points) also reached double figures in scoring for the Miners (13-15, 6-11 C-USA), who led the Panthers (13-15, 7-10 C-USA) by as many as 20 (54-34, 16:53 2H) before withstanding numerous rally attempts. The effort completes a season sweep against FIU and affords the Orange and Blue their first road win in the series in six years.
UTEP was able to ice the contest at the charity stripe, largely in part to Givance nailing 11-12 tosses. That included going 9-10 in the final minute of the affair. It capped a gutsy performance for the senior, who played all 40 minutes and came within two rebounds (game-high eight boards) of securing the program’s third triple-double.
The Miners drained 8-12 from distance, including 6-8 in the first half, on the way to building an eight-point cushion (40-32) at the break. UTEP was a solid 71.4 percent (25-35) at the free-throw line, with Givance leading the charge in the area. The Miners shared the ball effectively with 20 assists on 27 made field goals, won the boards (34-31) and racked up their most fastbreak points (24) against a DI opponent this year.
All of that helped them overcome committing 24 turnovers that led to 28 points for the home side. FIU shot 47.1 percent from the floor, but the Miners limited it to 2-12 on 3-point attempts. It marked the first win on the season for UTEP when yielding 70+ points and snapped a two-game skid.
Tae Hardy added nine points and Carlos Lemus pitched in six off the bench. It was a group effort on the boards, with Frazier III (seven), Onyema (six) and Solomon (four) buoying Givance’s eight grabs.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I’m happy for the guys,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “They gutted out the win. We had tough travel getting down here and FIU plays well here at home. They’ve beaten some good teams at home. They’re obviously a little shorthanded right now. They had a big-time guard who didn’t play.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the 24 turnovers,” Golding said. “That’s sloppy basketball, but I’m proud of the guys for a gut-check win. I’m proud of our guys, their effort was pretty good. We had some guys do some good things tonight. We found a way to win. Credit to Shamar (Givance) for hitting free throws down the stretch. He played on guts tonight and courage tonight. I appreciate his toughness.”
The Miners scored the first four points of the contest on the way to leading 8-2 early on. It included a dunk over a defender from Onyema off the feed from Givance. It was a five-point Miner edge (12-7, 13:23, 1H) when Givance came up with a steal and initiated a fastbreak push that resulted in a wide-open trey that Frazier III buried.
After FIU clawed back within four, the Orange and Blue ripped off six straight to secure a double-digit advantage (21-11, 11:16 1H). It began with a free throw from Solomon. After he misfired on the second toss, Onyema grabbed the carom and found Jamari Sibley for a 3-pointer that he drained. UTEP got another stop and Solomon put back a chance in heavy traffic to cap the surge.
FIU halted it with an alley-oop, but the Miners answered immediately with a 5-0 push. Givance pulled up in transition to knock down a 3-pointer. On the ensuing possession, he set up Frazier III perfectly for the left-handed slam on UTEP’s own alley-oop to vault the Miners ahead by 13 (26-13, 9:20 1H).
UTEP was up by double digits still (40-28, 55 seconds, 1H) late in the period before the Panthers tallied the final four points of the stanza to cut the Miners’ advantage to eight (40-32) heading into halftime.
The Miners fired out of the gates to start the second half, peeling off 10 consecutive points over the first two minutes of the stanza. It forced FIU to call timeout, with UTEP suddenly ahead by 18 (50-32). Onyema kicked it off with a dunk, which was followed by a 3-pointer from Hardy. Solomon then had a hoop and harm before Onyema finished things off with a nifty hook shot.
UTEP stretched the margin to 20 (54-34, 16:53 2H) only to have FIU strike back in the form of an 8-0 run in just 64 seconds, reducing the Miner cushion to 12 (54-42). Hardy halted the surge with a steal and coast-to-coast score. The Orange and Blue were still up by 13 (57-44, 13:55) before FIU responded with an 8-2 push to make it a seven-point affair (59-52, 11:26 2H).
The Panthers continued to chip away, getting UTEP’s lead down to three (62-59) before Onyema’s emphatic left-handed dunk slowed the surge. That powerful slam ignited an 8-0 run for the Orange and Blue, with a Solomon hook shot and Frazier III triple also powering the crucial counter that sent the Miners back out by 11 (70-59, 5:40 2H).
The Miners remained up by double digits (78-68, 1:47 2H) before a 6-0 run for FIU made things interesting. Givance stopped the sequence by calmly draining two free throws, affording UTEP a six-point cushion (80-74, 45 seconds left).
After a quick score by the Panthers, they fouled intentionally but Givance sank two more tosses at the charity stripe. FIU then got a lay-up and forced a turnover. The Miners fouled, but FIU went 1-2 at the charity stripe as UTEP remained up by three (82-79). Givance came up with the rebound on the second misfire and sank two more attempts after he was fouled to make it a five-point tilt (84-79).
The Panthers found their way to the rim again quickly to get within three, but Givance stretched it back to five with two more makes at the free-throw line. With time dwindling to less than 10 seconds, FIU’s desperate attempt for a rally proved futile as the Miners held on for the road triumph. Frazier III sealed things officially by recording a steal, UTEP’s 10th of the tilt, with six seconds left. UTEP plays its regular-season road finale at league-leading Florida Atlantic at 12 p.m. MT/2 p.m. ET on Saturday.