? Big time play by the frosh. UTSA up 57-51 pic.twitter.com/XJKoTgNO6J
— UTSA Basketball (@UTSAMBB) February 11, 2018
Forward Deon Lyle scored 18 points Saturday night, and UTSA held off the UTEP Miners, 63-59, for the program’s first victory in El Paso since 2011.
In a sloppy game with poor shooting by both teams, Lyle hit five 3-point baskets, allowing UTSA to sweep UTEP 2-0 for the first time in five seasons of Conference USA play.
The Roadrunners (14-11, 7-5) have won four straight and five of their last six to move into a tie for fifth in the C-USA.
Bewitched by 47 percent shooting from the free-throw line, the Miners (7-17, 2-10) lost their sixth in a row.
UTSA won in spite of shooting 39 percent from the field and 50 percent at the free-throw line (11 of 22).
“Coach said it was going to be ugly,” UTSA forward Nick Allen said on the team’s radio broadcast.
Added Allen: “It’s hard to come in here and win, you know, it’s a historical place, with a lot of pride.
“There’s a lot of support behind (the program).
“So, we knew it was going to be hard. We knew it was going to be chippy. But we got it done.”
Frustrating the home fans, UTEP hit only 18 of 50 from the field (for 36 percent) and 16 of 34 at the line.
UTSA coach Steve Henson said the Roadrunners “made it ugly” in the first half with their own lack of execution.
“A lot of stuff going on was our own fault,” the coach said. “(But) we kind of withstood it and responded well there at some point … and had a decent run.
“So many things to go back and look at. So many mistakes down the stretch (at the end of the game).
“Great learning opportunities. You know, we got some young guys out there and (we) made some mistakes, but it’s a lot better to learn from those when you win.”
The Roadrunners led by eight with 55 seconds left and nearly let the game get away from them.
After UTEP’s Isaiah Osborne made two free throws and missed a third with nine seconds left, the Miners had trimmed the lead to two.
Fortunately for UTSA, guard Giovanni De Nicolao put the game away with two free throws with five seconds remaining.
After De Nicolao made the first one, UTEP called time to try to ice him.
But after the break, the sophomore from Italy stepped up and hit the second one, as well, sealing the victory and improving UTSA’s record in C-USA road games to 3-2.
Forward Byron Frohnen produced 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Roadrunners. Allen had 9 points and 13 boards, as UTSA dominated on the glass, 48-35.
De Nicolao and Jhivvan Jackson had 10 points apiece. Jackson, the fifth leading freshman scorer in the nation, was held nine under his scoring average.
He hit 3 of 12 from the field, but Jackson also contributed nine rebounds and had a steal and a break-away layup that gave UTSA a 57-51 lead with 3:24 remaining.
For UTEP, center Matt Willms scored 12 and Paul Thomas and Kobe Magee, a freshman guard from Brandeis, both had 11.