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Costly UTEP mistakes push WKU past UTEP 72-60

Miner Illustrated

UTEP’s error of margin Thursday against a talented WKU squad was razor thin.

The Miners lack of execution filled with costly mistakes helped WKU pull away late in the second half in a 72-60 win.

Things were close early on and for the entire first half as the lead changed hands four times in the first 13 minutes of the game. WKU was shooting right at 50 percent when they led 24-22 at the under eight minute timeout break of the first half.

UTEP hit six three-pointers in the first half, and led 32-30 at the break after playing the final three minutes with a five guard lineup. At the end of the first twenty minutes, the lead changed nine times, and WKU held the games largest lead at a five point margin midway through the first half.

Paul Thomas gave UTEP a 39-36 second half with a corner three-pointer, then UTEP led 42-38 at the 15:26 mark after a three-point play from Omega Harris.

From there, UTEP on a three minute scoring drought fueling an 8-0 WKU run which flipped the score to 46-42 Toppers with 13:17 left in the game. That run would stretch to 13-2, and the Tops led 51-44 with exactly 12 minutes left in the game, and UTEP was on the ropes entering the danger zone.

UTEP scratched and clawed their back into the game, Osborne tied the game at 51 with a 3-pointer, then Omega Harris extended UTEP’s run to 7-0 taking a 53-51 lead, but WKU had an answer for UTEP all night.

WKU responded with an 8-0 run via a pair of 3-pointers and lead UTEP 59-55 with 6:50 left to go. The Tops were shooting 55.6 percent from the field in the second half at that point and controlled the game from there.

UTEP turned the ball over 12 times in the second half and 16 in the game, while WKU pulled away with a 7-0 run in the final minute to close the game.

Omega Harris led UTEP with 16 points, Paul Thomas added 10 points. UTEP shot 44 percent from the floor in the game, but went 2-for-7 from 3-point land in the second half after a strong first half from long distance.

WKU out scored UTEP 34-18 in the points in the paint, while Justin Johnson scored a game high 20 points for the Toppers.

The loss drops UTEP 2-8 in C-USA play, and will host Marshall.