In the final seven minutes of Wednesday night’s loss to Southeastern Louisiana, you could hear a pin drop in the Don Haskins Center.
UTEP was dominated thoroughly by a Southland Conference team at home, and was never in the game once they let an early lead slip away.
The Miners started 3-of-4 from the field, and jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a three-point play by Omega Harris, then all of a sudden UTEP went cold and lifeless for the rest of the evening.
UTEP went scoreless for a four minute stretch which included four misses in a row from the floor, and three turnovers during an 11-0 SE Louisiana run which put them in front 16-9 at the 12:34 mark of the first half.
Once the Lions grabbed the lead, they held onto it for the entire game with some tough interior defense, lights out shooting, and physically controlled the glass.
UTEP would go on another 3-minute plus drought, while the Lions finished the half on a 19-4 run to take a 42-27 lead into the halftime break.
The Miners missed their last 10 shots from the field in the first half, and went the final 6:48 without a field goal, shooting 32.2 percent from the floor in the first half.
Southeastern Louisiana continued to surge in the second half, the closest UTEP would get was seven points five minutes into the second half, but it was Lion’s night.
Three Lions scored in double figures led by Davon Hayes who put up 19 points. 5’9 lightning rod Marlain Veal added 18 points, and nine rebounds and also dished out six assists.
Dominic Nelson was problematic in the paint, scoring 10 points, and added 11 rebounds, and four blocks, flustering UTEP’s big men Kelvin Jones, and Matt Willms.
They shot 51.5 percent from the field, out rebounded UTEP 47-33, and pounded UTEP in the paint 33-22, at one point they held a 24-14 advantage in the points in the paint.
Omega Harris scored 13 points for UTEP, Matt Willms added 12, and Dominic Artis added 11 points but was 5-of-16 from the floor.
UTEP shot an ice cold 33.3 percent from the field, and went 5-of-16 from long distance.
Despite forcing 18 turnovers and cashing in 21 points off turnovers, UTEP looked out of sync after they gave up the early lead, and were missing the presence of Terry Winn.
After the game Tim Floyd said no one has seen or heard from Winn since he was sent home from the Charleston Classic, an indication that Winn might be out of the picture for the rest of the season.
More bad news also came after the game as Floyd indicated that Matt Willms was slowed up with the continued foot issue in the first half, and never looked like Matt Willms from the Charleston Classic due to the nagging injury.
UTEP gets nine days before they take the floor again on December 3rd.
Check out Floyd’s comments after the game