UTEP beats Washington State 65-52

EL PASO, Texas (AP) Vince Hunter scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in Friday’s season opener and UTEP beat Washington state 65-52, ruining coach Ernie Kent’s return to the court.

Kent was away from college basketball the past four years after stints as head coach at St. Mary’s and Oregon.

Earvin Morris scored 13 for the Miners, including two 3-pointers, and C.J. Cooper added 11 points and five assists.

DaVonte Lacy led the Cougars with 15 points and seven rebounds, Que Johnson scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Ike Iroegbu added 10 points.

After cutting what had been a double-figure UTEP lead to just six, 32-26, at halftime, the Cougars spent most of the second half trying to stay with the Miners.

An 8-4 spurt for Washington State fueled by two 3-pointers by Johnson, helped trim a UTEP lead that had grown to 13 points at 29-16 with just over 2 minutes remaining in the opening half.

But that was the only time Washington State’s small lineup consistently caused the Miners trouble. UTEP was too strong at both ends of the court and led by double figures all but a few moments of the game’s final 7 minutes.

That was thanks in large part to a 46-37 rebounding advantage for the Miners, which included a 17-7 edge in offensive rebounds that led to easy second-chance points. Defensive rebounding was much more even, with Washington State holding a 30-29 edge.

The Cougars’ Lacy, who was the focus of UTEP’s defensive plan, was able to finish in double figures after hitting on 7 of 8 attempts from the free-throw line.