MINERS
UTEP Rallies For 67-62 OT Win Over Houston in C-USA Championship

Jacques Streeter

Jacques Streeter

March 7, 2012

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Gabriel McCulley scored 18 points and gave UTEP the lead for good with a big three-pointer in overtime as the Miners beat Houston, 67-62, in the opening round of the C-USA Championship on Wednesday at the FedExForum.

The Miners (15-16) advanced to meet top seed Memphis (23-8) in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MT. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

McCulley's three-pointer with 2:57 to play in overtime broke a 60-60 tie and gave UTEP its first lead since 7-6 early in the first half. John Bohannon's layup off a dish from McCulley extended the lead to 65-60 with 53 seconds left.

The Miners held Houston to two field goals in overtime, including one in the final three minutes.

"We feel very fortunate to get the win," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "It was our sixth win this year when we're trailing with five minutes to go in the game. We have confidence in that area. I wasn't sure how much confidence we were going to have in this one given the fact that we had lost three in a row."

The Miners were down by as many as eight points in the second half before putting together another of their signature comeback victories.

Alandise Harris' jumper with 3:12 to go in regulation put the Cougars (15-15) up 54-49. But the Miners outscored Houston 9-4 over the final 2:51 to force overtime.

Jacques Streeter's driving layup tied the game at 56 at the one-minute mark. After Alandise Harris nailed a jumper to give Houston a 58-56 lead with 39 seconds left, McCulley found Bohannon for the game-tying layup with 19 seconds to go.

Harris missed a jumper with two seconds remaining.

Bohannon (16 points), Michael Perez (14) and Julian Washburn (10) all scored in double figures for the Miners, who ended a three-game losing skid.

"Gabe has always played well back here in Memphis and he certainly played well tonight," Floyd said. "Jacques orchestrated our offense and did a great job and I thought we had a tremendous defensive effort out of Julian Washburn on [Jonathon] Simmons, who is one of the premier players in our league. He really eliminated a lot of his drives and what he wants to do."

Simmons, who had scored 20+ points eight times this season, shot 3-for-12 from the floor and finished with 10 points, including only two after halftime.

UTEP overcame a first half where it made only 8-of-25 shots and went over seven minutes without a point after bolting to an early 6-2 lead.

The Miners trailed 25-21 at the half, but shot 54.2 percent in the second period and made 3-of-4 shots in overtime.

Harris led the Cougars, who had won four of their previous five games, with 25 points and 12 rebounds. TaShawn Thomas also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.

"I think Houston will beat themselves up for not making free throws [6-for-15]," Floyd said. "I thought they played with a great deal of poise and guarded us well. They didn't turn the ball over. They played well. We didn't have an answer for Alandise Harris but got a lot of poise out of our team down the stretch. We got looks that we wanted to get.

"They only had two team fouls with about nine minutes to go in the ball game. I thought a real key was our ability to continue to drive it and try to get it at the rim, to try to be able to get some free throws because we were struggling shooting the ball. We used the free throw line as an additional scorer tonight."

The Miners finished 16-for-24 at the charity stripe and went to the line 12 times in the second half.

UTEP and Houston were meeting for the fourth time in five years in the C-USA Championship. The Miners and Cougars have split the four games.

 

 

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