UAB scored 25 points off 21 UTEP turnovers, and took advantage of poor foul shooting by the Miners in a 78-72 overtime upset on Wednesday at Bartow Arena.
The Blazers (9-12, 1-5 C-USA) snapped a six-game losing streak, and the Miners (11-8, 4-2 C-USA) were denied a sweep of a weeklong road trip that started with a 68-67 win at East Carolina on Saturday.
UAB outscored UTEP 36-21 over the final 13:21 of regulation to force overtime. The Miners led 43-28 when McKenzie Moore banged in a three pointer with 13:56 to go.
In a way, it was the antithesis of the East Carolina victory, a game UTEP trailed for most of the night before winning on Moore’s 25-foot trifecta as time expired. On Wednesday, UAB took its first lead since 7-4 on a layup by Fahro Alihodzic 22 seconds into overtime, and the Blazers never trailed in the extra session.
The Miners finished 14-for-29 at the charity stripe. Chris Washburn was 1-for-7 and even the ordinarily reliable Jacques Streeter was 1-for-4.
“Obviously it’s a disappointing loss,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We had many opportunities late in the half and late in the game to convert at the free throw line. On the eighth and nine fouls we missed the front end of one-and-ones. On the 10th foul we missed the first of two. Big plays and big possessions.”
The Miners lost on a night where they shot 50 percent from the field and made 10-of-19 three pointers. Besides struggling at the line, they were outrebounded 38-32 by a team that had two players over 6-6, including Alexander Scotland-Williamson, who played three minutes.
UTEP was outscored 36-22 in the paint. John Bohannon, who scored a career-high 23 points at East Carolina, pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds but was limited to two shots. Bohannon and Konner Tucker were assessed 10 of the team’s 21 turnovers, with five apiece.
“Give UAB credit for fighting, competing and taking advantage,” Floyd said. “We had 21 turnovers and their points off turnovers were very big. Give them credit for outrebounding us. Give them credit for forcing those turnovers.”
UAB’s Jordan Swing scored 24 points, and Rod Rucker had 18 points and nine rebounds. Swing scored 12 points in the second half and six in overtime.
“We have been able to take two key players out of the game. Their key players are Rucker and Swing and they both had outstanding games,” Floyd said. “We did a poor job on those two guys and paid for it.”
The Miners utilized a 15-3 run, capped by a C.J. Cooper three pointer, to take a 19-10 lead with 8:19 remaining in the first half. UTEP’s largest lead of the half was 26-16 when Tucker drained two foul shots with 2:57 to go, but the Blazers closed the frame with an 8-2 run to cut the gap to 28-24 at the break.
The Miners started the second half with a nine straight points to go up 37-24. But the lead could’ve been more, as they were 8-for-16 from the line to that point.
UAB caught UTEP at 50 with 6:08 to play. The Miners reinstated a six-point lead (62-56) on a three pointer by Tucker with 1:51 to go, but couldn’t hang on.
UTEP was 2-for-5 from the line in the last minute of regulation, and UAB finally deadlocked the game at 64 on a layup by Swing with five seconds remaining.
Streeter missed a three at the buzzer, and UAB scored seven of the first eight points in overtime. The Miners sliced a 71-65 deficit down to one twice, but Swing answered with two free throws both times.
The Miners will play three straight C-USA home games, starting on Saturday when they face Tulane. UTEP will also Rice on Wednesday, Feb. 6 and Tulsa on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tip-off for all three contests is 7 p.m. MT.