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UTEP holds off FIU 72-68

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UTEP snapped a pair of three game losing streaks Saturday, holding off Florida International 72-68 in improve to 2-4 in C-USA play.

The win snapped an overall three game losing streak, and also snapped a three game losing streak when leading at halftime despite almost giving a halftime lead away for the fourth straight time.

Isiah Osborne was special tonight, scoring 21 points despite going 0-for-7 from long distance. Instead the Canadian attacked the rim and went 7-for-10 from the line.

UTEP has now won 28 straight games when they go to the free throw line 30 or times times. Saturday, UTEP 21-for-30 from the charity stripe and won the battle of the boards with a 43-40 edge.

Paul Thomas scored nine of UTEP’s first 13 points, going 4-for-4 from the floor as UTEP jumped out to a 13-2 lead five minutes into the game.

FIU would outscore UTEP 12-5 over the next six minutes after the Miners hot start, but UTEP led the entirefirst half taking a lead 40-28 lead into the halftime break.

The first five minutes of the second half looked similar to the Miners previously blown halftime leads, parlaying into a 28-15 FIU spurt in the first 10 minutes of the half.

FIU started the second half 10-for-14 from the floor, and took a 46-45 lead at the 9:35 mark of the second half.

It remained close from there, until a UTEP spurt aided by free throws, help put this in the win column for UTEP.

Osborne and Matt Willms combined to score eight points during a 10-0 UTEP run during a three minute span which broke a 53-53 tie, and gave UTEP a 63-53 lead with 2:30 left in the game.

While the free throw line sealed the deal for UTEP, the Golden Panthers folded from the line.

FIU went 14-for-30 from the free throw line, and shot 41.7 percent from the floor in the game. They scored on 63.4 percent of their second half possession during their near come back, and shot 59.4 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.

Evan Gilyard scored 14 points, marking the second straight game he has scored in double figures. Paul Thomas, and Omega Harris each scored 10 points.

Matt Willms scored eight points, and added eight rebounds, Trey Wade added an important nine point, eight rebound, and four blocks outing off the bench.

The Miners start a three game road trip starting next Saturday at UTSA.