EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP and Kent State went toe-to-toe in the championship game of the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Thursday.
Kent State edged out UTEP in 47-46 to win the invitational championship. It was a neck-and-neck game the entire way and came down to the last play of the game. After two made free throws from Sincere Carry put Kent State up 47-46 with :18 to go in the game, UTEP’s Shamar Givance was blocked on a lay-up attempt as the clock winded down.
It was not the result UTEP wanted but they did walk away with their heads held high after a competitive game against one of the top teams in the nation.
“I thought it was a great college basketball game,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “I’m proud of our guys and our effort. We lost to a really good team (#25 in NET), but we played our butts off tonight. “
We have to value the basketball and do a better job of that, but we competed our butts off and I’m proud of that,” Golding said. “We slowed the game down and got them to play our pace. They’re tough, that’s a veteran ball club with a lot of toughness.”
UTEP was led by Tae Hardy, who scored 11 points while Givance netted 10. Otis Frazier III recorded eight points and a game and nine rebounds. Kevin Kalu tallied seven points to go along with six boards.
The Miners held the Golden Flashes to just 32.1 percent from the floor, including 4-25 from distance (16.0 percent). UTEP connected on 38.3 percent but was hindered by 19 turnovers that led to 19 points for the visitors.
UTEP was without Mario McKinney Jr. after he left Wednesday night’s game against North Carolina A&T early after what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Kent State was led by Sincere Carry’s 15 points. He was the only Kent State player to score in double-digits. Miryne Thomas followed up with eight points. Cil’ron Hornbeak and VonCameron Davis each had six.
UTEP will have about a week until they resume Conference USA play. UTEP will hit the road and play the preseason favorite, UAB, on Thursday, Dec. 29.
After suffering a 73-63 loss to Kent State on Wednesday, New Mexico State bounced back with an 85-76 win against North Carolina A&T in the consolation game of the invitational.
New Mexico State’s Marchelus Avery and Xavier Pinson each had 20 points on the day. Avery also recorded his first career double-double as he posted 10 rebounds.
Avery and Pinson were two of five NMSU players to finish their day with double-digit scoring figures. Doctor Bradley had 15 points, Kyle Feit recorded 13 points and Issa Muhammad netted 12 points.
Deshawndre Washington only had five points, but his impact was felt all over the court. Washington recorded six assists and nine rebounds in 35 minutes played.
New Mexico State will now look towards the start of Western Athletic Conference play. NM State opens up conference play against Southern Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at the Pan American Center. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. MT.