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LA Tech hands UTEP a third straight loss 78-70

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UTEP couldn't take care of the ball, and come up with stops down the stretch resulting in another road loss.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP executed their game plan, and gave themselves a fighting chance.

They rebounded long LA Tech misses against UTEP's zone looks, they attacked the paint and finished around the rim.   Dominic Artis got himself going again, but UTEP turned the ball over again, and again for a season high 23 turnovers in a 78-70 loss to LA Tech.

For the second straight game, all of LA Tech's starters reached double figures led by Jacobi Boykins who had 18 points, Erik McCree and Alex Hamilton each added 14 points.

Artis flirted with a triple-double, scoring a game high 23 points, with 10 rebounds, and nine assists, Terry Winn scored 13 points, and grabbed seven rebounds.

Omega Harris, and Earvin Morris both scored 10 points as UTEP shot 50.9 percent from the field in the game, but shot 2-of-13 from behind the three point line in the ball game.

The lead changed hands nine times, and the game was also tied nine times, but LA Tech did the much better job of executing their offense down the stretch while UTEP was unable to string together stops in the final minutes.

UTEP used some effective zone looks in the first half to keep LA Tech off the free throw line and out of the lane, while Omega Harris scored the Miners first six points to help UTEP take an early 8-3 lead at the under 16 timeout of the first half.

The action would pick up in a back-and-forth manner for the rest of the half as both teams traded runs.

The Miners would come up empty on their next six trips up the floor, as LA Tech went on a 7-0 run to grab a 10-8 lead after a tip in from Merrill Holden.

Dominic Artis would respond with a steal and layup that started a 13-4 spurt giving UTEP a 21-14 lead at the 8:13 mark despite the Miners turning it over 12 times in the first 12 minutes.

UTEP extended their defensive pressure to out past the three point line, and attacked the paint on the opposite end which proved to be effective during the run.

Dayon Griffin and Erik McCree ended the run with a back-to-back three pointers, then Jacobi Boykin drained a three from the corner followed up by a fast break alley-oop from Alex Hamilton to a streaking Merrill Holden for a slam and an 11-0 LA Tech run as UTEP went scoreless for almost three minutes.

The run gave the Bulldogs a 25-21 lead with 5:23 to play, but UTEP had an answer to even things back up.

Arits would knockdown a jumper, then Terry Winn muscled in a layup to tie the game at 25 just a minute later as UTEP continued to pressure LA Tech, and finish in the paint.

LA Tech connected on seven three pointers in the first half, but Artis scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out four assists in the first half to help UTEP hold on to a 33-32 lead at halftime.

A 23-14 first half rebounding advantage via LA Tech's quick trigger and 30-percent shooting percentage in the first half against UTEP's zone helped the Miners overcome 15 first half turnovers.

30 of UTEP's first 43 points came from inside the paint, as both teams slugged out the first four minutes of the second half with UTEP holding a 43-40 lead.

Neither team would lead by more than three points over the next five minutes, until more turnovers and shots starting to fall for the Bulldogs put UTEP in hole they couldn't dig out of.

LA Tech went on a red-hot 5-of-6 stretch from the field, with an Erik McCree three pointer, and a put back dunk off an offensive board by Branden Sheppard that gave LA Tech a 56-51 lead.

McCree would then knock down another three that continued to fuel a 9-3 run capped off by dunks from Sheppard and Hamilton that stretched the largest lead of the afternoon at that point in Tech's favor to 63-54 at the 8:25 mark of the second half.

The Miners were flirting with the danger zone, but a LA Tech scoring drought kept things close until the Miners couldn't get a stop.

LA Tech went scoreless for 2:40 after a bucket from Hamilton to keep the Bulldogs in front 65-56, but Artis and Morris would combine to score four straight for UTEP, sending the game into the under four minute media timeout with LA Tech leading 65-60 with 3:48 left.

UTEP would trim the lead to 70-66 with 1:45 left to play via a pair of free throws by Artis, but LA Tech scored on four of their final five possessions of the game including six straight free throws to close out the win.

LA Tech's second half rebounding edge of 20-15 erased a would-be solid rebounding effort by UTEP despite the Miners out rebounding the Bulldogs 38-34 in the game.

UTEP's defense forced 14 turnovers, and held LA Tech to just 40.9 percent shooting from the field, but the Dawgs' drained 12 three pointers with five coming from Boykins, and four off the hand of Griffin.

The efficient three point outing could have been weathered, but UTEP turned it over on 30.3 percent of their possessions and lose for the first time this season while shooting more than 50 percent from the field.   UTEP also out scored LA Tech 48-24 in the paint.

It was good to see the Miners bounce back mentally with a strong effort, and show some sort of progress, but another sore thumb flaw, this time turnovers killed UTEP's chances of snapping the road losing streak.

Next weekend UTEP will host Marshall on Thursday, and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1966 National Championship against WKU on Saturday.