UTEP scored 32 points in the paint – 22 of which were second-chance points – and out-rebounded ECU 42-17 on its way to a 58-47 victory.
"Their second-chance opportunities were the difference in the game. We battled hard and got them to miss the first ones, but the second ones, obviously, was what doomed us," said ECU coach Jeff Lebo.
The Pirates (12-11, 1-7 Conference USA) have now dropped seven of their last eight games and five straight on their home floor. Meanwhile, UTEP (17-6, 7-1 C-USA) continues to trend in the other direction with its seventh consecutive win.
ECU senior shooting guard Akeem Richmond supplied a game-high 20 points and broke his own school-record for 3-pointers in season (previously 105), but neither him nor his teammates had answer for Miners forward John Bohannon.
Bohannon, a 6-foot-11 senior, turned in his 18th career double-double with 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Richmond started the game red-hot from three-point range – drilling three consecutive 3's to give ECU an early 11-4 advantage -- but the Miners adjusted by matching their defensive stopper, Julian Washburn, on Richmond. Washburn held the Pirates' sharpshooter scoreless for the remainder of the half.
"(Washburn) was terrific. He just tried to deny everywhere," said UTEP coach Tim Floyd. "Washburn is the best defender I've coached, college or pro, in 38 years in this game."
Offensively, UTEP attacked the paint and recaptured the lead with an 11-0 run. Then, Miners' shooting guard C.J. Cooper poured in three 3's to stretch out ECU's zone defense in the final moments of the first half.
ECU's defensive specialist Paris Roberts-Campbell said Cooper, who finished with a team-high 15 points, created some problems for the Pirates on their own side of the floor.
"It makes it a little more difficult because we've got to get out to the shooters when we want to pack it in, because they're already bigger than us. (Cooper) hit some big shots in the first half."
The Pirates trailed 27-19 at halftime and trimmed the deficit to four points twice in opening stages of the second half. Clinging to a 32-28 advantage, the Miners countered with another large run – 11-2 – to claim their largest lead of the game, 43-30.
The Pirates did not go away, though. Paris Roberts-Campbell hit a 3 to draw ECU within seven, 51-44. But with the crowd back into the game, ECU couldn't inch any closer – point guard Antonio Robinson missed a jumper and Roberts-Campbell a lay-up.
"I think we got the shots we wanted down the stretch," Roberts-Campbell said. "They just didn't fall and (UTEP) executed pretty well on the offensive end. They took a lot of time off the clock each possession."
Richmond secured his milestone with a second-half 3-pointer. He currently has 107 3's with eight games left in the regular season.
"It feels good (to break the record), but I'd rather have the win," said Richmond.
ECU will remain at home for a match-up against new C-USA member UTSA. Tip-off time is set for 5 p.m. at Minges Coliseum Saturday. Follow us on Twitter at @InsideECUSports and our message boards for live in-game updates.