Jordan Lathon scored a game-high 25 points, but Charlotte used a 16-0 run late in the second half to get by UTEP, 68-58, on Sunday afternoon in Halton Arena.
With the score tied 48-48 with 8:42 remaining in the contest, the 49ers used a 16-0 run to go up 16 points (64-48) with just over four minutes left. Lathon ended the run with his fourth three-point basket but the run proved too much for UTEP as foul trouble and turnovers prevented a comeback.
“We been through some struggles over the course of the season,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But I’m proud of the way the guys came out with their effort. I thought we tried really hard. When we get to the second half, it’s been a theme of us during the second part of the season. We come out and we’re missing the communication pieces. We have to take to another level, especially on the road, in terms of effective communication. We have to start the half the right way and we didn’t come out with the same kind of energy that we have to have to start the half.”
Lathon finished 10-for-19 from the field, was 4-of-8 from downtown and connected on his lone free-throw attempt. He and senior Paul Thomas (nine points, 10 rebounds) were in foul trouble with four each and sat for a portion of Charlotte’s scoring run.
After Charlotte was down eight points at the half (33-25), a Jon Davis layup and Cooper Robb three pointer got their squad within five points (35-30). In between their buckets, Thomas converted a layup on a Kaosi Ezeagu assist, while Ezeagu followed with a basket of his own to put the Miners up seven points (37-30).
Charlotte made the score 39-37 on a Jailan Haslem layup but Lathon used back-to-back buckets to put UTEP up 43-37 at the 12:49 mark. The six-point lead in the second half would be the biggest as the 49ers outscored the Miners, 31-15, the rest of the way.
Evan Gilyard scored 11 points and tallied six rebounds, while Nigel Hawkins chipped in with seven points and led the team with three assists. Gilles Dekoninck scored four points in 15 minutes of action. Ountae Campbell played 29 minutes off the bench.
UTEP only shot 3-for-4 from the foul line to Charlotte’s 16-for-17 effort. The Miners committed 17 turnovers to the 49ers’ 13.
Charlotte senior Jon Davis led his squad with 21 points and Robb recorded 16 points.
UTEP took a 33-25 lead into the locker room. The Miners only deficit was a 4-3 score early in the first half, but a Gilyard layup gave his squad the lead back and never relinquished it. Jon Davis hit a three-point basket to get the 49ers within a point (15-14) at the 12:21 mark. Thomas followed with a made basket in the point, while back-to-back threes by Thomas and Hawkins put UTEP up 23-14, its biggest of the half, at the 9:22 mark.
Charlotte got within five points (27-22) after Davis was fouled on a three-point attempt and connected on all three free-throw attempts. But again, the Miners answered as Gilyard hit his second trey of the half to go up eight points (30-22) with just over three minutes to play in the half.
Davis converted a three-point play that got the 49ers within five points, but a Hawkins’s three put the Miners up eight points. Davis followed with a missed jumper right before the halftime buzzer.
UTEP will finish its home portion of the schedule as “Senior Night” is March 6 (7 p.m.) versus Middle Tennessee. The Miners will conclude the 2018-19 season in Murfreesboro against the Blue Raiders on March 9.