Jan. 21, 2006
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - UTEP's Jason Williams scored 12 points, including a game-winning lay-up with two seconds to go, to lead the Miners to a 53-51 victory over Marshall Saturday evening in the Henderson Center.
Marshall falls to 7-9, 1-3 in C-USA play, while the Miners improve to 11-5 and 4-0 in league play.
"It was real physical, especially in the paint," said senior center Mark Patton (Barboursville, W.Va.). You have to give them credit. They came on the road, played hard and came out on top.
"We didn't play as well as we could have in the first half, but we came back in the second half and got back in it, but they came out on top."
After trailing for most of the second half, the Herd tied the game at 51-51 with 16 seconds remaining on a Markel Humphrey (Ellenwood, Ga.) banked-in three pointer. UTEP had stretched its lead to as many as nine in the second half, but Marshall slowly chipped away and evened the score for the first time since the 19:48 mark of the second half on Humphrey's three.
After two UTEP timeouts, the Miners' Williams had his initial shot opportunity blocked by Patton but gathered the rebound and put in his own miss to give UTEP the game-winning basket. Joe Miles' (Forestville, Md.) desperation three as time expired came up short for the Herd on its last possession of the game.
UTEP took a 26-24 halftime lead after a very competitive, low-scoring first half which had eight lead changes and five ties.. Both teams shot only 37% in the first stanza, but UTEP outrebounded Marshall, 21-12, in the deciding statistic of the opening period.
In the second half, the Miners opened the stanza on a 13-4 run, which gave them their largest lead of the game at 39-30 with 13:02 to play. Marshall chipped away at the UTEP advantage, cutting it to two points on three separate occasions down the stretch, and then with 2:35 to play, Travis Aikens
(Orlando, Fla.) knocked down two free throws to cut the Miner lead to one, 49-48.
On UTEP's next possession, Herd point guard Chris Ross (San Antonio, Texas) forced a turnover from the Miners' Edgar Moreno, but Marshall could not capitalize on its end of the floor. Ross missed a running lay-up with 1:47 to play, and after a missed jumper by UTEP's Kevin Henderson, Marshall again missed out on an opportunity to take the lead, this time when a Miles' three-pointer was off the mark with 1:00 to play.
The Miners' Edgar Moreno calmly knocked down a 15-foot jumper with 40 seconds remaining to give UTEP a 51-48 advantage. That set up Humphrey's banked three-pointer with 16 seconds remaining.
For the game, Marshall was 19-for-60 from the floor (31.7%), and 5-of-24 from beyond-the-arc (20.8%). The Herd did have a good night at the charity stripe, knocking in 8-of-9 shots for the game (88.9%). MU only committed seven turnovers, and had seven blocked shots, its best total of the year.
"That was a pretty good game," said Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa. "I thought we had better poise, but we just didn't shoot well. They are a physical team, and we battled back and got a lucky bank shot, but we deserved it. But we just couldn't quite get back. We are close but not there. We are playing hard and we have to build on the things we are doing well."
UTEP fired in 42% of its shots for the game, and made 33.3% of its attempts from three. The Miners also did a good job converting at the free-throw line, making 7-of-9 shots (77.8%). UTEP outrebounded Marshall, 38-31, and also had seven blocks in the game.
Humphrey led Marshall with 14 points on 5-of -13 shooting. Miles and Patton each added ten points.
Williams and Moreno led UTEP with 12 points. John Tofi also chipped in 10 points.
"I think you have to give Ron's team full credit for playing a full 40 minutes," said UTEP head coach Doc Sadler. "We would get them down six or seven points, and they would keep coming back. There is no question Marshall runs their stuff as best as anyone we have played this year, and they do as good a job of interior defense as anyone we have played this year."
Marshall wraps up its non-conference schedule with the Toyota Capital Classic in Charleston against intrastate rival West Virgina. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game, which tips off at 5:30.