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January 10, 2014

Miners fall to the Niners 73-68

If Miner Nation has learned anything this year, it's that no state of being is permanent and no single part is more important than the whole.

After a turbulent turn of events that saw the UTEP program forced to comply with one of the countless number of groundless NCAA rules by releasing three players -- including its leading scorer -- for gambling on sporting events they had no influence over, the show had to go on.

The Miners showed up Thursday night for their next act on the Don Haskins Center stage -- as did their fellow miners of Conference USA -- where UTEP (10-6) fell to the Charlotte 49ers (10-4), 73-68, despite this season's loudest and most inspired crowd of 7,625 in attendance for the first intra-conference meeting between the teams.

The first half was an intense bout that saw the Miners and Niners neck-and-neck. In front of raucous fans that had yet to be heard this season, the lead changed four times and the score was tied on six occasions.

Led by the efforts of Julian Washburn and John Bohannon, UTEP seemed to be gaining separation after going on a 7-0 run to take a 22-15 lead with exactly 10:00 left in the first. The 49ers, however, displayed their conflicting vision by sinking two consecutive three-pointers in response to the seven straight points for a 22-21 Charlotte deficit at the 9:10 mark. The remaining nine minutes of the half saw the Niners add to their 6-0 run, outscoring the Miners 13-7 to take a 34-29 lead into the locker rooms.

The second half continued the momentum left over from the first, with Charlotte maintaining a lead throughout. For the remainder of the contest, the 49ers never let the Miners gain even another tie as they sank a dagger to quiet the crowd every time UTEP was in striking distance.

Even when the Niners did miss from the field, dominant Charlotte rebounding -- led by Mike Thorne Jr. -- enabled the 49ers to outscore the Miners 14-6 in the second-chance points battle and stifle the cold shooting effort for UTEP players not named Julian or John. In the end, the matching second half point total of 39 for the two teams just wasn't enough for the Miners to contend with a Charlotte team that showed up to seize the first battle for mining supremacy.

UTEP will get a one day break before the familiar Marshall Thundering Herd come into town to play Saturday night at 7:05.

-The 49ers outrebounded the Miners 41-27

-Charlotte was 40.0% from the three-point line to UTEP's 25.0%

-John Bohannon had 23 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal -- going 7-of-9 from the field.

-Aaron and Alvin Jones are still weeks away from being able to contribute to the backcourt.

Julian Washburn talks about the loss.



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