Six Louisiana Tech Bulldogs scored in double figures helping LA Tech shoot a red-hot 69.6 percent from the floor in the second half to put UTEP away 97-88 Saturday night in Ruston.
The Bulldogs outscored UTEP 38-26 in the paint, and turned 13 UTEP turnovers into a 22-5 points off turnover margin in the game. They also beat UTEP on the boards 33-27, and got to the free throw line 37 times making 28 freebies.
The first half saw the lead change hands 12 times as LA Tech took a 42-38 lead into the break. The teams combined to net 13 3-pointers in an exciting opening 20 minutes.
UTEP led 38-33 after a Kobe Magee 3-pointer with 2:15 left until halftime, but the Dogs’ finished the half on a 9-0 run thanks to six 3-pointers for Tech in the opening half.
The Miners went an impressive 7-for-12 from long distance in the first half, but could not slow down LA Tech on the defensive end all night.
LA Tech held a 15-2 advantage in points off turnovers when another 9-0 Bulldog run capped off by a 3-pointer from Jacobi Boykins at the 15:40 mark of the second half made 61-48 LA Tech.
Led by Isiah Osborne, UTEP showed some offensive fight and kept it respectable. The Canadian dropped 20 second half points, he hit four in a row from long distance at one point.
Despite Osborne’s emergence for the second straight game, LA Tech kept a double digit lead from the 15 minute mark of the second half until Osborne drained another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 74-67 with 8:22 left in the game.
Osborne finished the night with a career-high 25 points going 5-for-7 from long distance.
Omega Harris scored 11 first half points, finishing with 21 points via four 3-pointers, and cut the lead back down to 86-80 after he scored six in a row with 2:20 left, but Harris would foul out eight seconds later.
LA Tech led 90-82 after a pair of free throws from Jy’lan Washington with 1:34 left, but the Miners had one more counter to make things interesting for a quick second.
Evan Gilyard knocked down a trey on the ensuing possession afte the free throws as UTEP made five in a row from the field, and trailed 90-85 with 1:19 left in the contest.
Derric Jean led the Bulldogs with 20 points, and nailed a 3-ball with 22 seconds left delivering the final fatal blow as Tech led 95-85 at that point.
UTEP shot 65.4 percent from the field in the second half, and finished the game 14-for-22 from behind the 3-point arch. Although the major difference was the lack of defense.
When the Miners needed a defensive stop in the second half while they still had a fighting chance, stops were hard to come by as LA Tech blew by Miner defenders, attacking the rim and making 20-of-28 free throw attempts in the final half.
LA Tech scored on 63.8 percent of their offensive possessions, and collects their first C-USA win on the season.
UTEP has now lost four of their last five, and falls to 6-10 on the season, and 1-3 in C-USA play.
The Miners head back to the 915 to face FAU and FIU next Thursday, and Saturday.