John Bohannon racked up 18 points in his final game as a Miner, and Julian Washburn added 16, but it wasn't enough to overcome a pesky Fresno State squad who walked out of the Don with their tickets punched to the quarterfinals of the CBI.
It would take the Miners more than two minutes to finally get on the scoreboard, as a Washburn jumper put them a point behind the Bulldogs at 3-2. The slow pace would continue for both teams, and at the 14:54 the game would be tied at just 6-6.
Fresno would actually lead for the majority of the first half, with the Bulldogs leading by as many as four at 18-14 with 8:18 left in the half. The Miners would take their first lead just before that at 14-13, a lead that would last just 11 seconds.
The Miners would take their second lead of the game on a Hooper Vint made layup with 2:23 to go, and would eventually take a 27-26 lead into the locker rooms.
The second half started with runs by both teams, as the Bulldogs opened with five straight to go up 31-27, before the Miners answered back with seven of their own to regain the lead at 34-31.
The two teams would trade leads for much of the second half, with neither holding larger than a four point lead until Fresno State surged ahead in the closing seconds.
With just 1:03 to play, and the Miners trailing by one, a missed Julian Washburn three late in the shot clock gave the Bulldogs the ball with the chance to close it out. And close it out they did.
They would waste better than 30 ticks off the clock before Mountain West Freshman of the Year Paul Watson found an decent look from distance, and knocked in the tre to stick the dagger in the Miners heart. In the end the Bulldogs escaped with the 61-56 win.
John Bohannon led the way for the Miners, scoring 18 points on 8-11 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 blocks. Julian Washburn finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds, but shot just 5-17 from the field. No other Miner scored in double figures.
For the game, the Miners shot just 35.3% from the field, compared to 40.7% for Fresno. UTEP did win the rebounding battle 37-30, but nailed just 3-11 from deep, compared to 8 made for the Bulldgos.
Coach Floyd had this to say following the loss:
First of all, we're disappointed. We would have loved to continue to play...Normally we talk defense. I thought offensively we were very inefficient. Fresno State did a really nice job of guarding our personnel and backing off the right guys, guarding the other guys. This game came down to guard play. Their guard play was much more efficient than our guard play.
The loss ends the season for the Miners at 23-11. While it was definitely a disappointing end, there's no question that this was a fun season to experience.
If you would've told me December 28th that this team would finish 18-14, I would've believed it. Instead, this team found a way to band together despite having no depth, one scholarship guard, and a handful of walkons chipping in, and still made their way to 23 wins. That is damn impressive.
The season ends with a bitter taste left in the mouths of most around Miner Nation, but it also closes a wild chapter, and gives us an opportunity to look forward to a very bright future for this program. I only wish the 2014-15 season started tomorrow.
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