It wasn't the easiest of victories, but the Miners were able to hold off a late charge by the Vandals, and walk out of the Don Haskins Center with the 64-60 victory. They improve to 3-4 on the young season, while Idaho falls to 3-6.
The first half was closely contested as the teams exchanged leads 6 times, and the score was times on 5 different occasions. Neither team held a lead larger than 4, and after twenty minutes it was the Miners who held a 32-29 advantage.
Immediately following the break, the Miners used a 20-5 run to blow the game open at 52-34 with 12:16 to play. But, the Vandals weren't done.
Over the next 12:07, Idaho outscored the Miners 24-8 to put themselves right back in it, down 2 with only 9.2 seconds to play. Having to foul, the Vandals sent Julian Washburn to the line for 2 shots.
"I really didn't think about it too much. Once you do that, that's when you start missing. I just tried to shoot with confidence, make sure my technique was right, and after the first one went down, I knew I was going to hit the second one"
Needless to say, Washburn knocked down the two shots, sealing the deal for the Miners. The Vandals put up one final shot that banked off, and Bo picked up the the board to secure his first double-double of the season.
Sophomore guard/forward Jalen Raglend had a huge night, leading the way for the Miners with 17 points. Sophomore guard/forward Julian Washburn finished with 16 points, and two huge free throws, and junior center John Bohannon had 15 points to go with 10 boards.
The Vandals were led by by sophomore guard Connor Hill who had 16 points. Junior forward Stephen Madison and junior guard Robert Harris finished with 9 points apiece. No Vandal player finished with more than 5 rebounds.
Coach Tim Floyd had this to say following the victory:
"We're real pleased with the win. That group had New Mexico down in the Pit about 10 days ago by 5 with about 7 minutes to go...The real key to the game was the job our big guys did on Barone. He had 20 and 10 in their last game. He had one field goal tonight...The foul line paid great dividends because we only made 2 field goals the final 12:15 of the ball game. Julian's two free throws there at the end were large. It's been really healing to be back in here in front of our fans. It's a game we're not sure we win on the road. It's another UTEP win, not our basketball team."
The win was a solid one for the Miners, who now face another tough task, in finals, before returning to the court next Monday to take on nationally ranked UNLV. Good thing for the Miners Konner Tucker, who wasn't quite 100% tonight, should be back in action for that game.