A turbulent season for the UTEP basketball team came to a sobering end as UTSA pulled out the Golden Broom of sweeps, beating UTEP for the third team this season, and knocking Phil Johnson and the Miners out of the C-USA Tournament with a 71-58 dismissal.
The big question coming into the first round contest between the fifth seeded Roadrunners, and twelfth seeded Miners was how would UTSA respond after losing C-USA Freshman of the Year Jhivan Jackson to devastating season ending injury.
UTEP was playing its best basketball of a terrible season heading into Frisco, leaving a cracked window of hope, but in reality the Miners never stood a chance.
C-USA Coach of the Year Steve Henson continues his magic as his club answered that question early and often with big performances, poise, and superb offensive play.
The only lead UTEP held in the game was an early 2-0 advantage in the opening minute, then from there, it was all UTSA. Deon Lyle scored 18 points, and Byron Frohnen recorded a double-double with 14 points, and 14 rebounds.
UTSA built a double digit lead at the 7:10 mark of the first half, and led 39-29 at the break after the Runners connected on five 3-pointers and only committed a single turnover in the first half.
A 7-2 second half run gave UTSA a 62-45 lead with 9:44 left, but Evan Gilyard gave UTEP a small glimpse of hope for a small stretch.
Gilyard scored 22 points in the second half, bringing UTEP within eight points with 4:19 left in the game, but UTSA played well and poised with the lead and was never threatened.
Omega Harris and Trey Wade joined Gilyard in double figures, Harris scored 12 points in his final game as a Miner, while Wade added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Only five of UTEP’s eight man rotation scored in the game, as UTEP finished shooting 36.7 percent from the field, and 5-for-27 from long distance.
UTSA worked UTEP on the glass with a 45-34 edge on the boards, and outscored the Miners 32-22 in the paint.
It’s just the fourth time in UTEP’s storied basketball history that the Miners have finished with 20 or more losses in a season, ending the year at 11-20 overall.
Next up for the program is a coaching search, and subsequent coaching and hopefully a culture overhaul which can bring optimism for a proud program that will be trying to dig out of the lowest depths ever seen in UTEP basketball history.