Men’s basketball handed first lost of the year by UTEP

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Junior forward Sean O’Brien’s career-high 25 points weren’t enough for the Salukis to top the University of Texas-El Paso who gave SIU its first loss of the season with a final score of 71-66.

The game was the first of SIU’s two-game weekend in the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge

The first half was a neck-to-neck competition as the lead changed hands eight times and neither team led by more than five points. 

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UTEP used a 11-4 run to claim the halftime lead 34-30.

A 16-4 UTEP run in the second half gave the Miners a nine-point lead at 56-47 with just under ten minutes left in the game.

Freshman forward Austin Weiher, senior guard Anthony Beane and junior guard Mike Rodriguez all scored on a 12-4 run for SIU to pull within one with 4:34 left in the game.

O’Brien scored his 24th and 25th points of the game on a layup that gave SIU a 66-63 lead with 2:23 left. He finished with 11 rebounds for his fourth career double-double and his first of the season.

UTEP closed the game on an 8-0 run on the way to victory.

Rodriguez had a layup that would have given the Salukis a one-point lead with 1:06 left, but it was taken away because of a shot clock violation. He finished with 10 points and four assists.

UTEP senior guard Earvin Morris scored on the next possession to give the Miners a 69-66 lead.

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Weiher missed a three-pointer and rebound by UTEP, SIU fouled and UTEP made their free-throws to extend the lead to five, which would be the final score. 

Three-point shooting was a struggle for the Salukis, as they shot 5-of-22 from beyond the arc for 22.7 percent. SIU averaged 38 percent entering Friday’s contest.

O’Brien and Rodriguez were the only Salukis to reach double figures in the point column.

The Salukis will be back in action at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against the loser of Portland and Colorado State.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @SCarleyDE

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