Lamar hoopsters nab big road win at UTEP

Published 9:11 am Tuesday, November 28, 2017

EL PASO, Texas – Lamar University got double-doubles from Zjori Bosha and Josh Nzeakor and jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back overwhelming the UTEP Miners, 66-52, Monday night at Don Haskins Center. The victory equals the best start for the Cardinals since the 2008-09 season.

The Cardinals (5-1) connected on their first four attempts – which included three three-pointers – and the race was on.

Big Red finished the night shooting 23-of-59 (.390) from the field following a 16-of-31 (.516) performance in the opening half. As hot as the Cards were from the field, they were even more impressive from beyond the arc (9-of-14/.643). LU knocked down nine triples in first 20-minutes to build a 22-point first half advantage.

While the Cardinals spent the first half torching the nets, UTEP (1-5) struggled to get its offense in rhythm. The Miners never recovered from an 0-of-5 start. The Miners were held to a 33-percent performance, which included a 7-of-26 (.269) effort from three-point range.

“At the end of the day, we held them to 32 percent from the field in the opening half and just 33 percent for the game,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “We always try to play the percentages on defense and that is where we want to hold opponents. I’m most proud of Zjori Bosha’s performance on defense. Keith Frazier is a big-time scorer and Zjori held him to four points on 2-of-10 shooting. I’m real happy for these guys tonight.”

Bosha scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Nzeakor added 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as LU built what would turn out to be an insurmountable lead early.

The Miners didn’t get on the scoreboard until Paul Thomas hit a jumper in the paint with 16:45 remaining in the half. UTEP got consecutive baskets to trim the Cardinals advantage to nine, 13-4.

The Cardinals held their guest at arm’s length until Nzeakor hit a layup with 8:21 remaining to open the flood gates. The layup sparked a 14-3 run as the Cardinals took a 20-point advantage into the locker room.

With the crowd taken out of the game early, the Cards opened the second half just like the first. LU pushed its lead to as many as 22 points before UTEP attempted a run late.

The Miners took advantage of some missed LU layups and a couple of careless turnovers to make the score more respectable. After Bosha hit two free throws to give the Cardinals a 22-point lead with just under nine minutes remaining the Miners responded with their only legitimate run of the game. UTEP rattled off a 9-2 run to cut what had been a 22-point advantage down to 13 points, 59-46, with 3:14 remaining. The Miners added to the excitement moments later trimming the lead to single digits, 61-52, with less than a minute remaining. Not allowing the Miners to get any closer, the Cardinals made a couple of stops on the defensive end and closed the out the game with an Nzeakor layup and two free throws from Nick Garth for the final score.

Bosha and Nzeakor were joined in double-digits by senior Colton Weisbrod (11 points) and classmate Joey Frenchwood. The California native chipped in 12 points.

The Miners only had one player in double figures as Trey Wade came off the bench to score 13 points and pull down five rebounds.

The Cardinals return to action Saturday when they travel to Conway, S.C., for the rematch with Coastal Carolina. The game against the Chanticleers will tip off at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Beaumont time). The game can be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.