Second-half rally lifts UTEP over McNeese, 82-72
EL PASO - McNeese was on the brink of pulling off the upset against UTEP on Thursday night after the Cowboys led for the first 28 minutes of the game. But the Miners rallied behind the strong shooting of Jorell Saterfield and Souley Boum as UTEP outscored the Cowboys 13-4 in the final 3:02 to pull away with an 82-72 win over the Cowboys.
The loss was the fifth straight suffered by McNeese (3-8) and just the second defeat of the season when the Cowboys scored 70 or more points. The game ended a six-game stretch away from home as they’ll be back in Burton Coliseum on Saturday with a 4 o’clock tip against Dallas Christian. UTEP improved to 6-4 on the season while winning its second straight.
Collin Warren led the Cowboys in scoring with 13 points while Brendan Medley-Bacon and Myles Lewis each scored 10. Medley-Bacon added nine rebounds and two blocked shots. The Cowboys knocked down 50 percent from the field (28 of 56) and were 7 of 20 (35 percent) percent from long range. McNeese struggled again from the free-throw line, hitting just 9 of 17 for 53 percent.
Boum led the Miners with 23 points while Keonte Kennedy scored 20 and Saterfield added 13. The three combined to connect on 10 of 21 from long range as UTEP finished 12 of 29 as a team.
McNeese led 38-34 at the half but held a nine-point lead before UTEP scored five straight to end the frame behind a jumper from Kennedy then a Boum three-pointer with just over a minute to play.
Trae English opened the game up with a 3 and McNeese put together a 10-3 run midway through the first half to go up 24-13 at the 9:19 mark following a Warren three-pointer.
The lead grew to 12 at 36-24 after a Johnathan Massie layup with 4:00 to play and that’s when UTEP started chipping away at the McNeese lead by taking advantage of a couple of missed shots and three Cowboy turnovers.
Medley-Bacon hit a couple of free throws for the first points of the second half to put the Cowboys up 40-34. UTEP followed with back-to-back 3s by Christian Agnew and Saterfield to tie the game 40-40 with 17:58 to play.
The Cowboys answered UTEP’s 6-0 run with a 7-0 spurt themselves to take a 47-40 advantage with 16:39 to play. The lead grew to nine at 51-42 after a Massie layup but Kennedy responded with a 3 then and after McNeese halted a mini-run by the Miners with a couple of Medley-Bacon freebies to give the Cowboys a 53-45 advantage, UTEP pinned three straight long balls by Saterfield and two from Boum to give the hosts its first lead of the game at 54-53 at the 11:57 mark.
McNeese never led again but did tie the game at 64-64 after a Warren three-pointer with 6:24 to play and again on the next possession on a Lewis dunk.
Three times over the following three minutes the Cowboys trailed by 1 and with the ball to take the lead, but UTEP forced turnovers that led to points on the other end.
A Lewis layup with 1:40 to play cut the margin to 77-72 but UTEP was able to sink free throws late to put the game away.
UTEP improves to 4-0 all-time in the series.
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