It was another close game that went into overtime, and came down to the wire, but more importantly it was another win as UTEP looks to stay away from the 13th, and 14th place spots in the C-USA standings by sweeping a C-USA home stand.
Four Miners scored in double figures led by Omega Harris who scored 18 points, Matt Willms was solid scoring 16 points, and the Miners found an inside game outscoring FAU 40-22 in the paint to win their second straight.
Both teams struggled to score consistently in the first half, but the Miners led by as much as nine after shooting 40.7 percent from the floor in the opening half.
UTEP forced the ball inside scoring 20 of their first 26 points from inside the paint. The Miners finished layups, and moved the ball leading to easy looks around the rim for most of the game.
They also did a decent job of extending their defense, forcing FAU to hit jumpers which was a struggle for the Owls in stretches.
Willms scored nine first half points, and a Trey Touchet drive and layup put UTEP ahead 20-11 at the 8:43 mark of the first half. UTEP led 26-23 at halftime despite not scoring in the last 2:23 of the half, and were also out rebounded 20-15 in the first 20 minutes.
The Miners built a 32-26 lead four minutes into the second half lead thanks to FAU scoring only once on their first seven offensive possessions of the second half.
FAU would wake up offensively, scoring six straight to tie it at 34, but Paul Thomas found Omega Harris for a deep 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to break the tie.
Harris scored UTEP’s seven of UTEP’s first 11 second half points, but UTEP went scoreless for a two minute stretch later in the half, and FAU’s Adonis Filer muscled his way into the paint for a layup tying the game at 48, prompting a Tim Floyd timeout with 4:16 left in the game.
FAU took their first lead of the game since the 18:35 mark of the first half when Gerdarius Troutman made 2-of-3 free throws after being fouled by Jake Flaggert on a 3-point attempt with 3:57 left in the game.
UTEP’s would go more than four minutes without a field goal until Thomas swung it down low to Willms for a layup breaking a 50-50 tie, but Adonis Filer answered on the next possession with a layup, tying things back up with 1:39 left to play.
A free throw from Willms, and a layup from Artis made it 55-52 UTEP, but FAU had one last shot with nine seconds left.
Troutman made his fifth 3-pointer of the night, tying the game at 55 out of a timeout. Dominic Artis had a look from deep right before the buzzer, but missed as the game went into overtime tied at 55.
In the overtime, UTEP built a 66-58 lead with 1:52 left, but went the final 3:52 of the overtime without a field goal. That allowed a 7-0 FAU run with a 3-pointer from Troutman cutting the lead to 66-65 with 3.4 seconds left.
Although Trey Touchet would smartly grab the ensuing in-bounds, and toss it into an empty front court as time expired giving UTEP back-to-backs wins for the first time this season.
Troutman made six 3-pointers, and led all scorers with 22 points. UTEP’s defensive effort forced FAU to shoot 36.2 percent as they could not establish an inside presence.
Paul Thomas continues his string of solid production, chipping in 14 points, and added eight rebounds to his line. Dominic Artis had a rough shooting night, but finished with 11 points in 39 minutes.
UTEP did a great job of limiting turnovers committing just nine in the ball game, and shot 42.1 percent from the field in the end. UTEP also went 16-for-24 from the free throw line, and were edged 39-37 on the boards.
The win improves UTEP’s C-USA record to 2-3, as the Miners sit 4-13 overall. Next up is a Saturday evening matchup with UTSA next weekend in the Don Haskins Center.