SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Jon Dos Anjos (career-high tying 12 points, season-best five rebounds), Tae Hardy (12 points, campaign-best five assists), Malik Zachery (career-high 11 points), Otis Frazier III (10 points, four boards) and Ze’Rik Onyema (10 points, nine rebounds) all came up big and UTEP crushed UTSA on the glass (44-24) in a 77-66 wire-to-wire road victory Saturday afternoon.
The Miners (12-13, 5-9 C-USA) shot 44.3 percent from the floor, including nailing 8-19 (42.1 percent) from beyond-the-arc. UTEP forced 18 turnovers that it converted into 19 points. The Miners had a 14-4 advantage in second-chance points, aided by 16 offensive rebounds. UTEP only allowed a pair off offensive caroms by the Roadrunners (7-19, 1-14 C-USA). The Miners also piled up 25 free throw attempts, knocking down 15, in addition to holding a 34-28 cushion for points in the paint.
UTEP led by as many as 14 in the game and held off several runs by the Roadrunners to snap a five-tilt skid and secure its second road triumph of the season. The final surge by UTSA got it within one (44-43, 11:13 2H) before the Orange and Blue countered with a 12-2 run to put away the game. The Roadrunners never got closer than nine from that point on.
Calvin Solomon nearly posted a double-double (eight points, eight boards) while Shamar Givance also netted eight points. Kevin Kalu contributed four points and six rebounds off the pine. The dominance on the boards was a team effort, with five different Miners pulling down at least four rebounds.
The effort completes a season sweep of the Roadrunners for the second straight year, something that hadn’t happened since the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.
“I’m happy for the fellas, they deserved it,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “They played well. Up and down the line, guys stepped up tonight. It was great to see Malik Zachery come in at that spurt and play well. To tell you a little bit our team, I had Sham (Givance) ready to check in and when Malik hit the shot, he said ‘coach, let him stay.’ Obviously, Jon (Dos Anjos) hit some shots. I’m just happy for the guys.
“I thought our ball movement was pretty good,” Golding said. “We got the ball inside, attacked the paint. We got some really good looks, offensively rebounded the ball pretty well and then were able to turn them over 18 times. That (16 offensive rebounds) was the key. I’m just proud of the guys. It was relief in the locker room. I just want these guys to see some joy, they’re working hard and are a fun group to coach. We talked pregame about pride. UTEP has tradition and history. It means something and when you put that uniform on, you’re going to compete and fight.”
UTEP surged out to a 7-0 lead in the contest, forcing four turnovers in the stretch to fuel the attack. Onyema had a pair of scores in the past to start the surge. Givance capped it with a steal and fastbreak lay-up with the defender breathing down his neck. The Roadrunners stopped the sequence with their first score nearly four minutes into the game (7-2, 16:07 1H).
It was still a five-point differential (9-4) before back-to-back 3-pointers for the Miners afforded them a double-digit advantage (15-4, 12:26 1H). Givance buried a trey from the top of the key off a find from Dos Anjos. Frazier III then drilled a corner triple with the shot clock winding down with the pass by Jamari Sibley.
A Solomon offensive tip-in extended the run to 8-0. UTSA ended it with a trey to make it a 10-point affair (17-7, 11:20 1H). Hardy answered with his own triple on to match the Miners’ then biggest lead in the game at 13 (20-7).
The Orange and Blue were up by 14 (26-12, 7:55 1H) after Onyema split a pair of free throws, but the Roadrunners got going with six consecutive points to inch within eight and prompt a timeout from Golding. The home side continued to bring it after the stoppage, trimming the UTEP cushion to five (30-25, 4:25 1H).
It was back and forth over the final four minutes of the stanza, with the Miners carrying a 36-30 advantage into the locker room.
Solomon put on a show with fancy footwork in the post to earn a shooting foul where he promptly sank both free throws to push UTEP’s margin to eight (38-30) in the opening minutes of the second half. The Miners were still up eight (40-32, 16:26 2H) before the home side went on a 7-2 surge to cut the advantage to three (42-39). Onyema halted it with a pair of free throws.
The Roadrunners eventually clawed within one (44-43), but the Miners kept their composure and answered in a big way. UTEP ripped off a 12-2 run over the next two minutes to vault back out by double figures. Dos Anjos initiated with his personal 5-0 push, including burying a 3-pointer. After a UTSA bucket, the Miners peeled off seven straight to cap the surge.
Dos Anjos remained instrumental in the sequence, with another trey and a dunk. Zachery added a silky-smooth jumper as well. UTSA got it back to single digits (65-56, 4:32 2H) but Hardy’s triple immediately pushed the margin back to 12.
The home side never truly threatened down the stretch as the Miners closed it out in style.
UTEP returns home to open a two-game homestand against preseason favorite and defending tournament champion UAB at 7 p.m. MT Thursday. Jon Teicher (42nd year) and Steve Yellen (20th year) will be on the call on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso. It will also stream on ESPN+ with Erik Elken and former Miner Hooper Vint describing the action. To purchase tickets, visit www.UTEPMiners.com/Tickets or call (915) 747-UTEP. Prices start as low as $9.15.