The 24th-ranked Florida Atlantic Owls came into the Don Haskins Center and held the Miners without a basket for the first 6:49 of the first half, jumping out to a 12-0 lead and never looking back.
The Miners first points of the game came on a Calvin Solomon jumper at the 13:11 mark of the first half. Digging themselves into an early hole was something the Miners were not able to recover from ultimately dropping their upset bid against the heavily favored Owls. Owl Guard Johnell Davis led all scores with 20 points on route to FAU’s 67 to 59 victory in front of a rowdy Saturday night crowd of 5,421 Miner fans.
The Owls would lead by as many as 17 late in the 2nd half. Joe Golding’s Miner teams have proven formidable mainly in part due to their defensive prowess.
The Miners cut the lead to with 5:19 to play until the half at 23-17 after Mario McKinney’s made free through.The Nationally ranked Owls would have an answer for every miner run and extend their lead throughout the game. The Miners were able to battle back late in the second half, led by 16 points from Calvin Solomon, but the Owls showed why they are the cream of Conference USA with the road victory over the Miners which was their 18th straight improving their CUSA record to 9-0 and moving to 19-1 on the season.
Florida Atlantic now holds a healthy 3 game cushion over second place North Texas and is in the driver seat or a Conference Title. The Miners dropped to 11-9 on the season and are below .500 with a 4-5 record putting them in a 4-way tie for fifth place alongside UAB, Charlotte, and Louisiana Tech. The Miners now begin a difficult final stretch with 6 of 10 coming on the road.
Joe Golding must now find a way to rally his squad for a strong finish down the home stretch of his 2nd season as UTEP’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach.
Story by Chris Gomez