EL PASO, Texas – The backcourt duo of N’Yah Boyd and Jazion Jackson combined to score 37 points with 17 rebounds as UTEP upended Texas State 72-68 in an overtime thriller on Saturday night in the Don Haskins Center.
In a game featuring a bevy of ebbs and flows, the Miners (4-0) handed the Bobcats (3-1) their first loss of the season by outlasting the visitors in a high-scoring overtime period in which Boyd led the way with eight points.
Boyd wasted no time getting started in the extra period, netting a 3-pointer in the first minute to get the scoring started before eventually icing the game at the line with five free throws in the final 16 seconds.
“We hadn’t played in a close game all year and we didn’t know, not being in that before, how our team was going to react,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “We made clutch free throws down the stretch, we got clutch rebounds down the stretch, and we really, really earned this win. That’s a good ball team in there (Texas State) with about 12 seniors. They are a team that will do well in the Sun Belt, so this is a good win for our program.”
While it was a new situation for the new-look Miners, the team was ready.
“We had confidence from the jump when we came in in the summer,” Boyd said. “Coach had already put that on us that we are leaders, so we have got to go out there and lead. The confidence was already there, so we just had to go out and finish the ballgame.”
The first half saw major runs each way, as back-to-back triples by Jackson and Soleil Montrose made the score 8-2 right out of the chutes.
Later in the half trailing 14-10, Texas State kept the Miners off the board for nearly six minutes to spark a 13-0 run on the way to building a 23-14 lead with 3:53 remaining before the break.
Jackson would snap the offensive cold stretch for UTEP by slashing to the basket for a layup. Eliana Cabral then drew a charge as part of a 7-0 run to cut the lead back down to a pair.
For Jackson, she would go on to score 18 points with nine rebounds and two steals.
“I thought collectively it was a great team win,” Jackson said. “We kind of just got together at the end to just get stops. Even if shots weren’t falling, we had each other’s backs. We went in and rebounded, we fought, we took charges and we just got stops at the end of the game which kind of gave us that edge to come out with the win.”
Up 26-21 at the half, the Bobcats rattled off the first four points of the third quarter, forcing a timeout by the Miner bench.
As was the case throughout the night, UTEP had an answer, snapping the run with an Adhel Tac layup and utilizing a Boyd 3-pointer from the left-wing to get the crowd into the game while cutting the lead back down to five.
Starting her third straight game, Tac grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds before fouling out with 2:44 left in the fourth.
Following her big 3-pointer, Boyd would then push into transition on the ensuing possession, drawing a foul.
It would be more of the same the rest of the way for Boyd, who was outstanding with 19 points and eight rebounds from her point guard position, hitting clutch baskets on a routine basis.
Da’Nasia Hood scored 28 points with 15 rebounds in the loss for Texas State.
It was Hood who built the Bobcats their largest lead of the fourth quarter with back-to-back strikes from distance off Kennedy Taylor assists to go up 48-40 with 9:17 on the clock, prompting a UTEP timeout.
An 11-0 run for the Miners pushed the home team back up by three.
Four points from Hood and a Ja’Kayla Bowie 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, her only points of the game, forced overtime. The Bowie basket was the result of an offensive rebound for the Bobcats to create a second opportunity.
In the win, Montrose scored 10 points with five rebounds and four assists, marking the third straight game in which the freshman has reached double figures.
The Miners won the battle on the boards 51-42 for the night.
“I’m just so proud of our team,” Baker said. “The one thing that we said all week long preparing is that if we could outrebound them we would have a chance to win, and we did that today. We were +9 on the boards and we were mighty, mighty small out there for most of the game. We finished the game with five guards. We played most of the fourth quarter with five guards and we fought for everything we could get. I’m so proud of them for that.”
In the win, the Miners went 24-of-31 (77.4 percent) at the free throw line.
UTEP only has one more home game over the next 40 days, a date on Nov. 30 against NM State. In between that, the Miners head to California to play in the Holiday Beach Classic next Friday and Saturday at Cal Poly against San Jose State and Sacramento State.