UTEP rallies at home for 72-66 victory over Incarnate Word

UTEPs Omega Harris (No. 2) drives on Incarnate Word guard Jalin Hart.

The UTEP Miners forced mistakes with their defense and rallied in the second half Tuesday night for a 72-66 victory over the University of the Incarnate Word.

Playing in El Paso at the Haskins Center, the Cardinals performed well for most of the night and held a 49-43 lead when Sam Burmeister buried a three-pointer with 10:26 remaining.

But, at that point, guards Kobe Magee and Omega Harris hit consecutive baskets to kick-start a 10-1 run for the Miners.

A Harris jumper capped the streak and gave UTEP a 53-50 edge with 6:57 left.

Down the stretch, the Cardinals (5-4) went cold, failing to make a basket for a span of 4 minutes and 43 seconds.

The Miners (4-6) did just enough to hold on for their third win in a row under interim head coach Paul Johnson. Johnson is 3-1 after taking over for Tim Floyd, who has retired.

Forward Paul Thomas led short-handed UTEP with 16 points and eight rebounds. Harris scored 15. Both Harris and Magee contributed three steals.

Miners’ injured 7-foot-1 center Matt Willms did not play.

For the Cardinals, forward Simi Socks led with 21 points, his second straight game with 20 or more. Socks hit 3 of 4 from three-point territory.

Forward Shawn Johnson scored 14, and Christian Peevy came off the bench for 10. UIW hit 9 three-pointers for the game but made too many mistakes, turning it over 25 times.

UIW plays on the road again at Florida on Friday night before opening Southland Conference play next week.

The SLC schedule starts with a road trip to Louisiana and games at McNeese State and Nicholls State.