EL PASO — San Diego State lost its 15th straight game Friday night as Texas El Paso beat the Aztecs, 79-73, in a Western Athletic Conference game.
The loss dropped SDSU to 0-11, 2-21. UTEP improved to 19-5 overall and moved into a second-place tie in the WAC at 9-4.
Despite the loss, Coach Smokey Gaines said the Aztecs played a good game.
"Losing by six to UTEP is nothing to be ashamed of," Gaines said of the nationally ranked Miners. "Our guys are young but they never gave up."
Gaines said freshman guard Tony Ross had another excellent game. Ross had 20 points, including four three-pointers. Guard Rodney Hawkins and William Campbell added 12 points each.
"Our outside game was good but our inside game has struggled all year long," Gaines said.
After the first half, when the Aztecs were trailing by only seven points, Gaines said he thought his team had a good chance to win. But with 14:03 left in the game and UTEP leading, 49-45, the Miners outscored the Aztecs, 20-7, to open up 17-point lead.
At the 5:10 mark, Ross started a comeback with a three-point shot that turned out to be a four-point play when UTEP's Terry Stallworth fouled him. A minute later, Ross hit another three-pointer, which was followed by Juan Espinoza's three-pointer. That brought the Aztecs within nine points.
After Miner Jerry Jones missed two free throws, Campbell got the rebound and drove the length of the court for a layup to make the score 73-66 with 2:29 left.
That was as close as the Aztecs got until the final 14 seconds, when Campbell scored a three-pointer and a layup to make the final score 79-73.
Espinoza said the Aztecs' youth--they have no seniors--has kept them from winning close games.
"UTEP was the most physical team we played yet and we stayed with them," Espinoza said.
Miner Coach Don Haskins said his team did not play very well because of the Aztecs' aggressiveness.
"San Diego State has a better team than their record indicates," Haskins said. "They played extremely well and hustled a lot."
El Paso was led by Chris Blocker, who had 17 points. Quinten Gates and Hernell Jackson scored 14 each.