Wednesday , March 29 2017
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Tag Archives: utep basketball

Tables Being Sold for 43rd “Dinner With the Miners”

Tables are now on sale for the 43rd edition of “Dinner With the Miners,” the annual awards banquet for UTEP Athletics. This year’s event, sponsored by the El Paso Downtown Lions Club, will be held on Thursday, April 27 at the Wyndham El Paso Airport.

Coaches and student-athletes will be in attendance for each of UTEP’s 16 Division I sports, with Most Valuable Athlete awards being presented.

UTEP’s Male and Female Athlete of the Year will also be announced as well as the recipient of the Golden Miner Award, presented to UTEP’s top all-around student-athlete based on athletics, academics and community service.

The social hour begins at 5 p.m., with dinner and the program to follow at 6:15 p.m.

Prices are $275 for three seats at a shared table with two student-athletes/coaches, and $500 for six seats at a shared table with four student-athletes/coaches. Funds raised are allocated to the UTEP student-athlete scholarship fund.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call Jim Peak at (915) 581-0490.

Miner’s Miracle Season Ends with 82-56 Loss to Middle Tennessee

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – Middle Tennessee turned in a stifling defensive effort and took advantage of 18 UTEP turnovers in ending the Miners’ season with an 82-56, Conference USA Championship semifinal victory on Friday at Legacy Arena.

The Blue Raiders (29-4) avenged a 57-54 loss at UTEP in early February while setting a school record for victories and advancing to Saturday’s title game.  The Miners’ season ends at 15-17.  UTEP started the year 2-13 before finishing 13-4 and tying for third place in C-USA.

“Middle Tennessee is a terrific team,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “If the NCAA does not take them to the tournament should something negative go on tomorrow, there’s a real, real problem with that.  They led our league in basically every statistical category, and those same categories they won tonight – assist/turnover ratio, rebounding margin, defensive points allowed, and they did a great job in all those areas.”

The Blue Raiders scored 25 points off UTEP turnovers.  Middle Tennessee reverted to form following an uncharacteristic performance in El Paso where the Miners scored 15 points off 19 Blue Raider giveaways.

Middle Tennessee also outrebounded UTEP 41-30, with 12 offensive rebounds leading to 10 second-chance points.  The Miners shot 39.2 percent from the field, as Middle Tennessee neutralized senior guard Dominic Artis (six points, 2-for-10 field goals) in his final college game.

“They’ve got a well-coached team,” Floyd said.  “They play well together, they move the ball well, and they force turnovers that other teams in our league don’t.  They forced a lot of turnovers today with our ballclub. I thought our kids tried.  We just weren’t very good today, and it had a lot to do with Middle Tennessee and their approach to the game.”

The Miners led once, at 2-0.  They hung in for the first 10 minutes, trailing 17-12.  Then the Blue Raiders scored six consecutive points – a three-point play by Reggie Upshaw, a three-pointer by Xavier Habersham – and pushed the lead to 11 (23-12).  UTEP got within seven (25-18) on two free throws by Omega Harris with 4:38 remaining in the half.  Middle Tennessee answered with six in a row once again.  At halftime, the Blue Raiders led 37-23.

The Miners fell behind 40-23 to start the second half.  They got within 15 twice, but that was it as the Blue Raiders blew out to a 29-point lead.

Reggie Upshaw, very quiet in the El Paso matchup, led the Blue Raiders with 18 points and eight rebounds. Giddy Potts scored 14, JaCorey Williams 13 and Antwain Johnson 11 off the bench.  The Blue Raiders recorded 16 assists, including a game-high five from Tyrik Dixon, and nine turnovers.  Potts swiped five of Middle Tennessee’s 12 steals, the most by a UTEP opponent this season.

Paul Thomas had an excellent game for the Miners.  He scored 18 points, making 7-of-10 shots and 4-of-6 free throws.  Harris scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half.

Artis, so good during the Miners’ 13-4 run to close out the season, ended his college career with 1,215 points, 484 rebounds, 502 assists and 163 steals.  He is the first player in school history to lead the team in rebounds, assists and steals in a season.   His 187 assists this season are third-most in school history.

UTEP will add a host of reinforcements to a solid nucleus of returning players for 2017-18.  The book closes on a truly inspirational 2016-17 campaign.

“It flipped from being a really, really poor basketball team through the first week in January to a team that was a real problem for people the last couple of months,” Floyd said.  “It’s a real testament to guys taking responsibility for their inadequacies, coaches as well, and not pointing the finger, making the determination to self-improve and what can come from that when you’ve got a common goal in mind.  I was extremely, extremely proud of our team.”

The Miners finish the season with Harris averaging 17.0 ppg, Artis 15.0 ppg, Matt Willms 11.4 ppg and Thomas 8.6 ppg.  Jake Flaggert took 33 charges.  Deon Barrett, Kelvin Jones and Trey Touchet grew in leaps and bounds off the bench.

“I came in here every single day the last two months knowing that it was a team committed to getting better,” Floyd said.  “It transferred into wins, and it transferred into great camaraderie.  Dominic Artis should get the lion’s share of the credit for that, being a senior.  He chose not to play for himself, but to try to keep us organized and play with heart.  I thought he did that.

“I told the guys in the locker room, I don’t recall one of my teams where I could look at the seven guys who were playing a lot at the end of the season and say, ‘Each one of you guys improved as much as any guy that I’ve had on any team.’  Every single guy got better, and they were fun to work with.”

HP Sports in Depth: Miners Look to Continue Miracle Season Friday vs Middle Tennessee

The Fourth seed UTEP Miners (15-16) meet top seed Middle Tennessee (28-4) in the semifinals of the 2017 Conference USA Championships.  The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network with tip-off at 10:30 a.m. MT on Friday morning.

The Miners advanced in the tournament with an 86-76 quarterfinal victory over Rice on Thursday.  Earlier in the day, Middle Tennessee upended UTSA 86-70.  The winner will advance to the championship game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. MT/7:30 p.m. CT (CBS Sports Network).

UTEP has won 13 of its last 16 games, while Middle Tennessee has won 18 of its last 19; with the lone loss during that stretch coming at UTEP (57-54) on Feb. 4.  The Miners overcame a 17-point second half deficit in that game to tie for their biggest comeback victory under coach Tim Floyd.

UTEP is 13-11 in C-USA Championship games, reaching the semifinals in 2006, 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2017 and the final in 2010 and 2011. The Miners’ all-time conference tournament record is 40-26 (includes a forfeit against Hawaii in the 1996 WAC Tournament).  UTEP captured WAC Tournament crowns in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990 and 2005.

UTEP is 8-4 all-time as a no. 4 seed in conference tournaments.  The Miners are trying to make the final for the fourth time in six appearances as a no. 4 seed.

SERIES NOTES

–    UTEP leads the series 3-2.
–    The teams are meeting in the C-USA Championship semifinals for the second time in three years.  On March 13, 2015, the sixth-seed Blue Raiders upset the no. 2 seed Miners, 53-50, in Birmingham.  The Miners led for much of the game, and 35-31 with a little over 10 minutes remaining before the Blue Raiders went on a game-changing 11-0 run.
–    Players on this year’s rosters who appeared in that game are Giddy Potts, Edward Simpson and Reggie Upshaw for Middle Tennessee, and Omega Harris and Matt Willms for UTEP.  Upshaw had 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Middle Tennessee.

THE DAVIS/FLOYD CONNECTION

–    UTEP’s Tim Floyd and Middle Tennessee’s Kermit Davis were on the same coaching staff at Idaho for two seasons (1986-88).  Floyd was the head coach and Davis was an assistant at the time.
–    The Vandals were 35-25 during those two years and were runner-up in the Big Sky Conference in 1987-88 while finishing 19-11.
–    When Floyd left to take the New Orleans job for the 1988-89 season, Davis took over as head coach and orchestrated back-to-back 25-6 campaigns.  Idaho appeared in the NCAA Tournament in both 1989 and 1990 under Davis, losing a first-round game each time.

UTEP 57, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 54 (FEB. 4)

–    Matt Willms scored nine of his 14 points in a game-ending 19-6 run as UTEP handed Middle Tennessee its lone conference loss of the season at the Haskins Center.
–    UTEP trailed 39-22 with 14:08 remaining.  The Miners outscored Middle Tennessee 35-15 over the final 13:46, holding the Blue Raiders to six field goals during that span.  Middle Tennessee scored one field goal in the final six minutes, when it was outscored 15-4.
–    The Miners made 9-of-10 foul shots in the second half and 15-for-18 for the game, none bigger than Willms’ two with eight seconds left that pushed a 55-54 lead to 57-54.
–    After falling behind by 17, the Miners scored 11 consecutive points to pull within six (39-33).  Middle Tennessee extended the lead back to double digits and was ahead 48-38 when Brandon Walters scored with 7:26 remaining. Then the Miners mounted their run.
–    Willms scored five points in a 9-0 run that turned a 50-42 deficit into a 51-50 lead.  When Omega Harris hit a jumper with 2:27 to play, the Miners had their first lead since it was 1-0.
–    JaCorey Williams, who was a one-man wrecking crew for Middle Tennessee with 24 points and 10 rebounds, put the Blue Raiders ahead 52-51 on a jumper with 2:09 to go. He gave them a 54-53 lead by splitting two free throws with 37 seconds left.
–    The Miners did the rest of their damage at the foul line, as Harris made two free throws with 22 seconds left and, after Edward Simpson missed a three-pointer, Willms made two more with eight seconds remaining.  Middle Tennessee’s Giddy Potts missed a three pointer at the buzzer.
–    Dominic Artis collected 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals.  Paul Thomas had 10 points and six rebounds.
–    Williams made 10-of-15 shots and 4-of-5 free throws for Middle Tennessee.  But the Blue Raiders’ other stars, Reggie Upshaw (zero points, one rebound in 23 minutes) and Potts (nine points, 3-for-11 from the field) were held in check.
–    Middle Tennessee uncharacteristically turned it over 19 times, which was the equalizer on a night where it shot 48.9 percent to UTEP’s 41.3.
–    The Miners trailed 27-16 following a miserable offensive first half where they shot 20.8 percent (5-for-24), 0-for-7 from three-point range.  In the second half, UTEP shot 63.6 percent led by Willms, who was 5-for-7 from the field.

UTEP NOTEBOOK

–    Dominic Artis led the Miners in points (26), rebounds (10) and assists (six) for the second time this season against Rice on Thursday.  The first time was versus Southern Miss on Feb. 11.  Overall it marked the fourth time he has achieved the feat in two seasons at UTEP.
–    Artis’ .769 (10-for-13) field goal percentage against Rice was his best in a Miner uniform; previous best (minimum 10 attempts) was .688 (11-for-16) at Marshall on Jan. 28.
–    Artis scored a season-high 26 points versus Rice.  It was the second-most points in his college career behind the 33 he scored versus Marshall on Feb. 4, 2016.
–    Artis’ next assist will be the 500th of his collegiate career.
–    Artis has scored in double figures in 13 straight games, a career-long streak.
–    Omega Harris picked up his ninth 20-point game of the season on Thursday, most by a UTEP player since Randy Culpepper had 17 in 2010-11.
–    Against Rice, Jake Flaggert drew his 32nd charge of the season and the 56th of his career.
–    Trey Touchet scored in double figures off the Miner bench for the third time in four games versus Rice.
–    The Miners’ 86 points versus the Owls were their most in a C-USA Tournament game.  The previous best was 85 points twice, against FIU and Marshall a year ago.
–    UTEP led wire-to-wire for the third time this season against Rice.  The Miners also led from start to finish versus the Owls on Feb. 18 in Houston, and on March 4 against Charlotte.

Miners Build Big Lead, Hold On To Beat Rice in C-USA Quarters 86-76

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – UTEP played a dominant first half – racing out to a 49-29 lead – then played through a deluge of foul calls and hung on for an 86-76 victory over Rice in the C-USA Championship quarterfinals on Thursday at Legacy Arena.

The Miners (15-16) played about as well as could be over the first 20 minutes, scoring their second-most points in a half this season and shooting 61.3 percent from the field.  Rice (22-11) shot 26.7 percent and UTEP crushed the Owls on the boards, 25-13.

In the second half, a total of 34 fouls were called – 17 on both teams – and 43 free throws were shot.  Jake Flaggert, Paul Thomas, Matt Willms and Kelvin Jones all fouled out.  Thomas played 15 minutes and Willms played 10.  Ivan Venegas played a career-high nine minutes.

And through it all the Miners survived to meet top seed Middle Tennessee (28-4) in Friday’s semifinals.  The game will tip at 10:30 a.m. MT/11:30 a.m. CT and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

Dominic Artis was simply brilliant for the Miners, scoring 26 points – a season-high – and making 10-of-13 shots.  He added 10 rebounds and six assists.  Omega Harris scored 21 points with six boards.  Willms had 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks in limited playing time.  Trey Touchet scored 10 points off the bench.

Rice was led by Marcus Evans, who scored 21 points.  But 13 of them came at the line.  Once again, the Miners held the Owls’ big three of Evans/Egor Koulechov/Marcus Jackson in check.  Combined they scored 39 points, but were 9-for-27 from the field.  Rice shot 33.9 percent from the game and finished 10-for-28 from three-point land.

“I thought D.A., Omega, Jake and Trey all did a great job of trying to close to their shooters,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “The 10-for-28 [three-point shooting] is something that we can live with in that game.  The 33 percent we gave up from the floor is why we won.

“We had a lot of things that we had to play through tonight.  Our bigs played well, they just didn’t play very long.  We had guy after guy after guy fouling out.  Four guys were out and Ivan Venegas had to play a lot of minutes.  We had guys playing minutes that hadn’t played.  I thought what kept us balanced throughout was the guard play by Dominic and Omega.  They kept us solid.  We made good decisions with the ball in our hands.  We had to play some lengthier possessions and we ended up making shots at the end of those possessions.”

The Miners jumped on the Owls early.  They scored the game’s first nine points and led 14-4 about four minutes in.  Rice battled back and when Koulechov hit two free throws with 6:25 remaining in the half, it was a 29-24 game.  UTEP closed the half with a 20-5 run and the Owls were buried, down 20.

“[The first half] was terrific.  It really was terrific,” Floyd said.  “Matt and Paul were protectors down at the rim and [the other] three guys had the job of just trying to no-catch those guys.  That put them in a drive game and might’ve had something to do with us picking up a foul or two.  But they did an excellent job of putting Evans and Jackson in situations that maybe they hadn’t been in.

“I thought what keyed it all was defensive transition in the first half, getting back and locating those guys because they’re special in that area – catch and shoot Koulechov, catch and shoot Jackson and Evans.  Our bigs did a nice job.”

With Thomas, Willms and Jones all playing five minutes or fewer in the second half, Rice was able to get back in it.  The Owls outscored UTEP 47-37 after halftime and outrebounded the much smaller Miners 20-16.  But they never could get closer than nine points.

The Miners shot 56 percent for the game.  Their 86 points bested the school C-USA Tournament record by one.  They outrebounded the Owls 41-33 and outscored them 38-14 in the paint.  In a surprise, UTEP had an 18-9 edge in bench points against the deeper Owls.

“We rebounded it tonight,” Floyd said.  “I thought Omega had a couple of back-to-back plays in the first half – a lob pass to Matt Willms for a dunk, and then one more pass on the next possession.  He caught the ball in the corner, kicked it back to Trey wide open at the wing.  I thought the whole game was good shot versus great shot, good shot versus great shot.  D.A. was excellent finishing, excellent dishing off of takes, and Omega as well.  It was guard play, and I thought our guards played as well as they have all year.”

UTEP Stands to Make History with Success at C-USA Tournament

When UTEP takes the floor against Rice today in the quarterfinal round of the Conference USA men’s basketball tournament, it will mark the culmination of a momentous feat.

That the Miners enter competition at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, after a first-round bye is nothing short of remarkable. UTEP secured the No. 4-seed in the tournament after a disastrous start to the 2016-17 season by reeling off 12 wins in its last 15 games. Should the Miners (14-16, 12-6 in C-USA) continue their hot streak to become C-USA tournament champions — and NCAA tournament participants — it will mark something historic.

No team that has lost 12 consecutive regular season games has made the Big Dance. While the task to become the first won’t be simple, there is reason to believe the Miners — who dropped a dozen consecutive contests from Nov. 20 to Jan. 7 — can waltz their way to the field of 68.

The berth would top Coppin State’s run to the 2008 tournament. The Eagles lost 11 straight regular season games before winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament to earn a spot in a No. 16-seed play-in game against Mount St. Mary’s. The 1998-99 Florida A&M team is the only other squad to make the tournament despite having a double-digit losing streak (10).

“It’s an exciting time of the year, not only for us but the other 11 teams that are going to be in the tournament,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said in statement. “Everybody is hopeful. In our case, we have given ourselves a path that is a little easier, only having to play three games to get to the NCAA tournament versus four.”

That path begins with Rice, which advanced to the second round after beating Southern Miss, 86-75, on Wednesday. The Miners have beaten the Owls 17 times in their last 21 meetings. UTEP most recently beat Rice, 79-71, on Feb. 18 in Houston. The Miners have advanced in seven consecutive C-USA tournaments and eight of the last nine.

Their lone opening-round ouster came as a No. 4-seed against Houston in 2009.

If the Miners advance to the semifinals, they will likely face No. 25 Middle Tennessee. The No. 1-seed Blue Raiders won the C-USA regular-season title with 17-1 conference record (27-4 overall). Their lone blemish? That came in El Paso on Feb. 4 in a 57-54 upset. If UTEP can repeat that success, it would have one more team to go through before giving head coach Tim Floyd his first berth with the Miners in the NCAA tournament.

Floyd has had high-profile detractors during his seventh season in El Paso. Most notable among them were the group of fans holding “Fire Floyd” signs in the Don Haskins Center who were confronted by former UTEP head football coach Mike Price. That came in December, in the midst of the Miners’ losing streak.

The signs vanished as the season progressed, replaced by an unprecedented surge to the league’s upper echelon.

Floyd has ridden the play of his stellar guards, Dominic Artis and Omega Harris, during the turnaround. Both players were named to the All-Conference USA team earlier this week and have been catalysts in

the team’s resurgence. While the Miners have battled through injuries, fielded various lineup rotations and struggled with turnovers, the biggest factor in their climb has simply been improved offensive efficiency. During the losing streak, UTEP was shooting 42-percent from the floor and 29-percent from three-point range.

Since then, the Miners have improved to 49-percent and 35-percent, respectively. Couple that with a nearly plus-4 turnover margin per game during the same period and a newfound doggedness on the defensive end of the floor and you have a team that is poised to do what was once unthinkable.

For Floyd, who gruffly accepted responsibility for the team’s poor play after its Dec. 3 loss to Northwestern State, three more wins could provide a catharsis. His arrival in El Paso in 2010 was largely celebrated by fans who appreciated the link to the school’s illustrious past and thought Floyd’s pedigree would bring immediate success to a team fresh off an NCAA tournament appearance. But his previous six seasons have yielded no conference championships and no wins in the second-tier postseason tournaments his teams have qualified for.

A return to the dance would do well to silence the most ardent critics of the highest paid coach in program history. He deserves credit for keeping his team focused through an arduous season. An NCAA tournament berth makes Floyd, whose contract is up in 2018, deserving of even more.

The first step on the road to those possibilities begins today.

Watch it

• What: No. 4-seed UTEP Miners (14-16, 12-6 in Conference USA) vs. No. 5-seed Rice Owls (21-10, 11-7) in quarterfinal round of Conference USA men’s basketball tournament.

• When, where: 1 p.m. MST today, Legacy Arena, Birmingham, Alabama.

• On TV: American Sports Network, Channel 14-KFOX in El Paso.

• Notes: Winner will face the winner of No. 1-seed Middle Tennessee and No. 9-seed UTSA 10:30 a.m. Friday. If UTEP wins its next three games to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament, it would be the first time a team with a 12-game regular season losing streak makes the dance.

Author:  Pablo Villa – Special to the Herald-Post

Old Dominion Ends Miners Season 80-70

BIRMINGHAM, ALA.-  Senior Sparkle Taylor scored the second-most points (32) by a Miner in a league tournament contest but a late run allowed sixth-seed Old Dominion to hold off the upset-minded 11th seed UTEP, 80-70, in an entertaining opening-round game at the 2017 Conference USA Championships presented by MetroPCS at Bartow Arena late Wednesday evening.

The Miners (8-23) led or were tied for 32+ minutes of the contest before the Lady Monarchs (17-13) used a late 12-0 run to spoil the valiant effort. The surge turned UTEP’s 68-63 lead with 6:52 to play in regulation into a seven-point deficit (75-68). Tamara Seda halted the gut-wrenching sequence by sinking two free throws but the damage had been done.

The Lady Monarchs advance to lock up with third-seeded Southern Miss in the quarterfinals at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CSTThursday while the Miners conclude their 2016-17 campaign.

UTEP outscored ODU in the first (23-21), second (22-19) and third quarters (16-15) before hitting the wall in the final frame (9-25). Even with the late difficulties, the Miners shot 46.6 percent (27-58) from the floor-compared to ODU’s 39.1 percent (25-64). Problems arose, though, with rebounding (ODU, 41-32) and second-chance points (ODU, 26-8).

“We played hard,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “Old Dominion has a very good team. I’m really proud of my team; we’ve had a long season but I think we came out, competed and played extremely hard. For a team that’s gone through what we’ve gone through this year, we showed a lot of pride and character with the way we played.”

Taylor nailed a UTEP league-tournament record 13 field goals on 23 attempts while also going 5-5 at the line to finish with 32 points. It was one point shy of the program standard in the event (33 by Jareica Hughes vs. Rice-3/7/08). It marked Taylor’s third 30+ point game this season, which ties Holly Russ (1990-91) as the most in program history. The prolific scorer concludes her career with the second-most field goals made at UTEP (530) and third-most points (1,352).

Sophomore Najala Howell buoyed Taylor with 17 points-her third-highest total this year- but no other Miner had more than six points in the contest. ODU got a big night from 2017 C-USA Player of the Year Jennie Sims (29 points, nine rebounds) while Annika Holopainen (12 points, eight boards) and Gianna Smith (12 points) also reaching double figures.

UTEP asserted itself well, racing out to a five-point lead (14-9, 3:58). Taylor provided a glimpse of what was to come by scoring eight points in the stretch. The Miner advantage remained six (21-15) inside of two minutes of the first frame before ODU splashed home consecutive triples to tie the tilt.

The deadlock was short lived, however, with Seda sinking two free throws late in the frame to give the Miners a small lead (23-21) after 10 minutes of action.

The two sides traded scores in the early stages of the second quarter before Taylor took over. She scored on consecutive trips, showing off her full repertoire of offensive ability, before finding a cutting Lulu McKinney for the lay-up to put UTEP up 10 (33-23, 6:38 second quarter).

The lead remained 10 (43-33) with inside two minutes of the second quarter but to its credit ODU was able to cut that in half (45-40) heading into the locker room.

The Orange and Blue showed tremendous resiliency in the third quarter, answering every run by the Lady Monarchs, to hold a six-point cushion (61-55) heading to the fourth and final frame. UTEP appeared to be in good shape when freshman Zuzanna Puc banked home a lay-up-off a sweet feed from Howell- to lead by five (68-63) with 6:52 left in the contest.

It was not to be, though, with ODU taking advantage of UTEP’s inability to connect on shots down the run.

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HP Sports in Depth: Miners Bounce into Birmingham for C-USA Championship

The UTEP men’s basketball team arrived in Birmingham late Monday night to begin preparations for the 2017 Conference USA Championships Presented by metroPCS.  The Miners (14-16) will face either fifth seed Rice or 12th-seed Southern Miss in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday (March 9) at 1 p.m. Mountain time/2 p.m. Central.

The game will be televised on the American Sports Network and can be seen on KFOX Channel 14 in El Paso.

UTEP has won 12 of its last 15 games and is riding high after securing a first-round bye with a 74-67 victory over Charlotte in the regular season finale on Saturday at the Haskins Center.

“It’s an exciting time of the year, not only for us but the other 11 teams that are going to be in the tournament,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “Everybody is hopeful.  In our case, we have given ourselves a path that is a little easier, only having to play three games to get to the NCAA Tournament versus four.  We have no idea who we’re going to play, but it will be a team that is spirited and talented and very capable of beating us, so we’re going to have to play well on Thursday.”

Rice (21-10) will be a heavy favorite against Southern Miss (9-21) on Wednesday.  But the Owls beat the Golden Eagles twice by a combined four points during the regular season, and had to go overtime to secure a 72-71 victory on Feb. 23 in Houston.

UTEP has enjoyed success as a no. 4 seed in conference tournaments.  In five previous appearances (three in the Western Athletic Conference, one in C-USA), the Miners reached the title game three times as a no. 4 seed and won the WAC title in 1990.  In the Miners’ lone appearance as a no. 4 seed in the C-USA Tourney, they bowed out to no. 5 Houston, 89-85 in overtime, in the 2009 quarterfinals.  The Miners have advanced in seven straight C-USA Tournaments and eight of the last nine.

The Miners have five players who have played in a total of 16 C-USA Tournament games – Jake Flaggert (four), Omega Harris (four), Matt Willms (four), Dominic Artis (two) and Trey Touchet (two).  Artis will be playing in his eighth conference tournament game on Thursday.  He led Oregon to the Pac-12 Tournament championship in 2013.

UTEP has enjoyed a lot of success recently against Rice (17-4 in the last 21 meetings), not so much against Southern Miss (4-8 in the last 12 matchups).  But all history goes out the window in postseason play, and the important thing is that the Miners are feeling good about themselves going in.

“The guys are confident and I think we’re healthy.  That certainly helps,” Floyd said.  “We have won 12 of 15 down the stretch and in the losses, we have been right there with a chance to win.  We know that defense has been our calling card and offensive efficiency of late has been good.  Six turnovers in the last ballgame is a nice stat.  We are certainly looking forward to getting out there and competing.”

The Miners will likely go as far as their guards will carry them this time of the year, and Monday was an exciting day as Artis (second team) and Harris (third team) both earned a spot on the All-Conference USA Team.  Artis, the Miners’ lone senior, will be making his last stand this week.

“That’s terrific for him [making second team All-Conference],” Floyd said.  “He certainly deserves at least that.  He has been a huge part of our turnaround.  He has had some incredible numbers with the 400 points, 150 rebounds, 150 assists and 50 steals.  He has worked as hard as any guy that I’ve had away from the floor at trying to make himself better.  I think he has had a really nice final 12 of 13 ballgames for us.  Defensively is where he has made his most improvement.  He is a terrific rebounder as a point guard, probably the best I have had in that area.”

UTEP won at Rice, 79-71, on Feb. 18, and split two games versus Southern Miss during the regular season. The Miners lost in Hattiesburg (73-65) on Jan. 7 before beginning their 12-3 run, which included an 80-50 rout of the Golden Eagles on Feb. 11 in El Paso.

OPENING TIP

–    UTEP is seeded fourth in the 2017 Conference USA Championships Presented by metroPCS.  The Miners (14-16) will face either fifth seed Rice or 12th seed Southern Miss in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday (March 9) at 1 p.m. Mountain time/2 p.m. Central.
–    The game will be televised on the American Sports Network.  In El Paso, it can be seen on KFOX Channel 14 or over the air CBS 4.2.  Please check local listings for availability on satellite packages.
–    Rice (21-10) and Southern Miss (9-21) will square off in the first round of the tournament on Wednesdayat 1 p.m. Mountain time/2 p.m. Central.  Rice beat Southern Miss twice this season, on Jan. 21 in Hattiesburg (61-58) and on Feb. 23 in Houston (72-71 in overtime).
–    The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to Friday’s semifinals at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time/11:30 a.m. Central.  That game will be shown on CBS Sports Network.  The championship game is on Saturday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time/7:30 p.m. Central (CBS Sports Network).
–    UTEP is 1-1 versus Rice and 1-2 versus Southern Miss in conference tournaments.  The Miners beat the Owls in the 2005 WAC semis (85-77) in Reno, and lost to the Owls in the 2007 C-USA first round (77-74) in Memphis.  UTEP beat the Golden Eagles in the 2006 C-USA quarterfinals in Memphis (66-47), lost to the Golden Eagles in the 2013 C-USA semifinals in Tulsa (85-67), and lost to the Golden Eagles in the 2014 quarterfinals in El Paso (64-56).

C-USA TOURNEY HISTORY

–    UTEP is 12-11 in C-USA Championship games, reaching the semifinals in 2006, 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and the final in 2010 & 2011.
–    The Miners’ all-time conference tournament record is 39-26 (includes a forfeit against Hawaii in the 1996 WAC Tournament).  UTEP captured WAC Tournament crowns in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990 and 2005.
–    UTEP was seeded third in the C-USA Championship  in  2006,  10th  in  2007,  sixth  in  2008, fourth in 2009, first in 2010, third in 2011, eighth in 2012, third in 2013, fifth in 2014, second in 2015 and sixth in 2016.
–    UTEP was also a no. 4 seed in the 2009 tournament.  The Miners lost to no. 5 Houston, 89-85 in overtime, in the quarterfinals at Memphis.  UTEP is 7-4 all-time as a no. 4 seed in conference tournaments.  UTEP was seeded fourth in the 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1999 WAC Tournament (the Miners won the fourth seed out of the Pacific Division in 1999).  UTEP reached the WAC Tournament final three of those four years (1988, 1990 and 1993) and captured the title in 1990.

COACH FLOYD IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

–    UTEP’s Tim Floyd is 28-19 in 21 conference tournaments with three titles and nine berths in the title game.
–    The titles came in 1990 at New Orleans, 1996 at Iowa State and 2009 at USC.  His teams were conference tournament runner-up in 1989, 1991 and 1993 (New Orleans), 1995 (Iowa State), 2007 (USC) and 2011 (UTEP).
–    UTEP has won its first game in the C-USA Tournament every year under Floyd, who is in his seventh season.  Floyd’s teams (including USC from 2007-09) have advanced in the conference tournament in nine consecutive seasons.  The Miners, meanwhile, have advanced in their last seven C-USA Tournament appearances dating back to 2010, and in eight of the last nine years.

SERIES NOTES

–    UTEP leads the Rice series 21-11 and has won 17 of the last 21 meetings between the schools, including seven in a row.
–    UTEP owns a 15-12 advantage in the Southern Miss series, but the Golden Eagles have won eight of the last 12 matchups and seven of the last 10.

UTEP 79, RICE 71 (FEB. 18)

–    Paul Thomas scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, and UTEP led from start to finish in a 79-71 victory in Houston.
–    UTEP jumped out to a 16-6 lead, led by as many as 14 in the second half and met every charge by the Owls, who had their five-game win streak snapped.
–    The Miners crushed Rice in the paint, 24-10, and made 9-of-14 three pointers (64.3 percent).
–    Dominic Artis scored 16 points with six rebounds, seven assists and three steals.  Omega Harris scored 15 points with an efficient shooting night (6-for-10 FGs, 3-for-4 3FGs).  Jake Flaggert was 3-for-3 from long range, all in the second half.  Thomas made 7-of-9 shots and added 11 rebounds.
–    Rice’s three big guns — Marcus Evans, Egor Koulechov and Marcus Jackson — combined to score 31 points on 7-for-26 shooting from the field, 4-for-18 from three.

SOUTHERN MISS 73, UTEP 65 (JAN. 7)

–    Omega Harris and Dominic Artis combined for 49 points, but Southern Miss converted 16 Miner turnovers into 24 points and raced to a 73-65 victory in Hattiesburg.
–    UTEP trailed 39-31 at halftime and got down by 11 early in the second half.  The Miners scored the next seven points to make it 48-44, but couldn’t get closer.
–    Another key stretch came midway through the second half when, after Harris’ free throw made it a six-point game (54-48), Southern Miss’ Robert Thomas nailed a three pointer.
–    Finally, with UTEP trailing by six (69-63) and under two minutes left, Artis and Harris missed a series of shots that could’ve made things interesting had they gone down.
–    Harris scored 26 points, and Artis added 23 points, 13 rebounds and four steals.  Quinton Campbell scored 24 points with 10 rebounds for Southern Miss, and Cortez Edwards added 17 points.

UTEP 80, SOUTHERN MISS 50 (FEB. 11)

–    Dominic Artis scored six of his 20 points during a 16-0 run early in the second half as UTEP thumped Southern Miss in the Don Haskins Center.
–    The Miners made 12 three pointers led by Artis, who was 6-for-9 from long range.  UTEP finished 12-for-23 from beyond the arc and shot 52.9 percent from the field on a night where Southern Miss’ game plan was to take the Miners’ inside game away.
–    The Miners led 41-31 at the half.  Southern Miss cut it to nine (45-36) with 16:48 to play before UTEP went on the 16-0 run to take command.
–    Artis had 10 assists and six rebounds.  Omega Harris scored 17 points and Jake Flaggert hit three threes, the equalizer with Matt Willms and Paul Thomas combining for 13 points (four in the first half).

HP Sports In Depth: UTEP Takes On ODU to Tip Off C-USA Tourney Wednesday Night

The number 11 seed UTEP (8-22) will match up against the number 6 seed Old Dominion (16-13) in the first round of the 2017 Conference USA Championships presented by MetroPCS at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST  Wednesday at Bartow Arena on the campus of UAB.

The winner will advance to face No. 3 seed Southern Miss at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST Thursday.

Three members of the 2017 All C-USA Teams will be in action:  UTEP’s Sparkle Taylor, ODU’s Jennie Simms and Destinee Young.

The two squads are locking up for the second time in less than a week. Old Dominion knocked off the Miners, 87-68, at home on March 2, 2017. It was a seven-point game (39-32) at the half before ODU pulled away.

The Miners and Lady Monarchs are meeting in C-USA Championships for the second time in as many years. Last year then fifth-seeded Old Dominion upset the top-seeded Miners, 66-54, in the 2016 semifinals (3/11/16).

Both the Miners (0-5) and Lady Monarchs (0-2) are winless in neutral-site contests in 2016-17. UTEP is 16-23 all time in conference tournament play (12-9 in C-USA; 4-14 as a member of WAC). UTEP is 13-14 in league tournament action under Keitha Adams, including 11-8 since the 2008 edition.

The game will streamed live on Campus Insiders with Curt Bloom (play-by-play) Holly Berry (Analyst) on the call.Steve Kaplowitz (play-by-play) and Traci Miller (color commentary) will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. Fans are encouraged to also follow the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Lady Monarchs (@ODUWBB) on Twitter.

In Depth

–  The Miners have played in the quarterfinal round in nine of their 11 trips to the C-USA Championships. The only two times that UTEP didn’t advance beyond the first round (either with a win or bye) was in 2006 and 2015.

–  The Miners have advanced to the league semifinals in four of the past five years, five times total since joining C-USA and eight occasions in program history (WAC- 1993, 1995 and 2004; C-USA 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).

–  UTEP has played in the championship contest twice (2008 and 2012), winning it all in 2012.

–  UTEP has a double-digit seed at the C-USA Championships for just the fourth time in its 12th appearance since joining the league (2005-06). Overall it is the fifth seed of 10 or lower in program history.

–  The No. 11 seed matches the lowest in program history (2015), but it also affords the Miners a chance to pull off their biggest upset at the event. The biggest to date was No. 10 seed UTEP besting No. 7 seed Rice (62-61) in 2010.

–  Only four Miners (senior Sparkle Taylor, juniors Lulu McKinney and Tamara Seda and sophomore Najala Howell) have experience playing at the C-USA Championships.

–  Taylor has averaged 7.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 21.6 minutes in five total games played (all off bench).

–  In her three games (one start), McKinney has averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 assists in 27. 7 minutes.

–  Seda averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 15.5 minutes in two games last year

–  Howell earned a combined five minutes of playing time in two games last years, misfiring on her only shot.

INSIDE THE SERIES (ODU LEADS, 4-2 OVERALL; ODU LEADS 2-0 IN NEUTRAL)

–  Old Dominion leads the series, 4-2, including the recent 87-68 home victory on March 2.

–  Last year UTEP won the regular-season match-up (70-64, 2/25/16) but the Lady Monarchs avenged the setback in a 66-54 conquest in the semifinals of the 2016 C-USA Championships.

GETTING TO KNOW OLD DOMINION  – Overall: 16-13   Home: 10-5 Road 6-6     Neutral 0-2

C-USA: 11-7    Home: 5-4   Road 6-3

–  Old Dominion is one of eight programs (through the end of 2015-16 season) with at least 1,000 wins.

–  Made 25 NCAA Tournament appearances (most recent ‘07-08), including winning it all in 1985. Has a total of three national championships and produced 54 All-Americans.

–  Returned all five starters from last year’s team (17-17, 10-8 C-USA).

–  ODU went 5-6 in non-conference play, which was hurt by an 0-3 road record but it bounced back to forge an impressive 6-3 mark in its nine conference contests.

–  After 3-4 start to C-USA play, the Lady Monarchs won eight of their final 11 to finish at 11-7 the league.

–  ODU paces the league in rebounds/game (41.4), rebound margin (+7.2) and total rebounds (1202). It is also third in field-goal percentage (44.5) and 3-point field-goal percentage (34.6), fourth in total blocked shots (115), blocks/game (4.0), field-goal percentage defense (40.3), sixth in assists/game (14.8) and scoring offense (70.6) and seventh in total assists (428) and free-throw percentage (69.6)

–  ODU has top-100 NCAA team rankings several categories: it is 21st in rebound margin, 35th in field-goal percentage, 42nd in rebounds/game, 57th in 3-point field-goal percentage, 74th in scoring offense and 86th in assists/game, 90th in blocked shots/game and 96th in total blocked shots.

–  Led by 6-0 redshirt-senior guard and 2017 Conference USA Player of the Year Jennie Simms. She is sixth all time at ODU (2,089) for scoring. She needs 24 points to move into fifth place at the school.

–  Simms is the nation’s second-leading scorer (25.7 points/game). She also paces C-USA and is among the NCAA’s leaders for field-goals made (255-fourth) and attempts (536-ninth), free throws made (176-sixth). Simms’s 226 free-throw attempts is second in the league and ninth nationally. Simms is also fifth in C-USA for minutes/game (36.1), sixth in rebounds/game (8.0) and eighth in assists/game (4.3).

–  Simms is one of two players nationally (Tori Jankoska, Michigan State) to account for account for 20+ points/game, 8+ rebounds/game and 4+ assists/game this season.

–  Simms has recorded 30+ points 11 times, including two games with 40 or more. Her season-high of 43 points against Marshall (ODU W, 77-69, 1/5/17) is a Ted Constant Center women’s record and is the highest single-game scoring total in the conference this season.

–  2017 All-Conference USA second team honoree and All-Defensive Team member Destinee Young provides a perfect compliment to Simms. She is first in C-USA and among the national leaders for rebounds/game (10.9-ninth), offensive rebounds/game (4.0-15th), total rebounds (316-16th), double-doubles (15-18th) and defensive blocks/game (7.0-28th).

–  Young is also fourth in C-USA and 96th nationally for blocks/game (1.6).

–  After Simms (25.7) and Young (11.1), five other players contribute between 4.0-5.9 points/game.

–  Notable alumni include Ben Bailey (host of TV show Cash Cab) and Nancy Lieberman (Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer).

LAST MEETING WITH OLD DOMINION: (at Old Dominion 87, UTEP 68, March 2, 2017)

–  Sparkle Taylor continued her blistering play offensively with a 27-point outburst while Tamara Seda (13 points) andLulu McKinney (10 points) also reached double figures in scoring but it wasn’t enough in a 87-68 setback at Old Dominion on March 2, 2017

–  Jennie Simms poured in 30 points to go along with seven assists to lead the charge for the Lady Monarchs. ODU also received big games from Destinee Young (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Ashley Jackson (12 points, six rebounds).

–  UTEP took good care of the basketball (13 turnovers) while forcing 17 giveaways that led to 18 points, kept it competitive on the glass (ODU, 38-33) and shot 39.4 percent (28-71) but the home side compensated for all that with a tremendous shooting night. The Lady Monarchs nailed 60.7 percent (37-61) from the field, including 76.9 percent (10-13) in the third quarter and 66.7 percent (10-15) in the final frame.

–  ODU built a 34-20 lead midway through the second quarter but UTEP fought to get within seven (39-32). Unfortunately the Lady Monarchs used a 9-0 run early in the third quarter to push out by 15 and UTEP couldn’t get closer than 10 the rest of the way.

GOING BACK IN TIME at Charlotte 84, UTEP 74 (3/4/17)

–  UTEP fought hard but was upended in its regular-season finale by a count of 84-74 at Charlotte on March 4.

–  The Miners came out firing to lead by as many as 15 (37-22, 6:49 second quarter) but to their credit the 49ers fought back. They did so primarily at the charity stripe, making 22-25 tosses. UTEP finished at 6-8 from the line, and was tagged for 25 of the 35 infractions in the contest.

–  UTEP shot 43.7 percent (31-71) from the floor-compared to the 49ers’ readout of 38.4 percent (28-73) and kept it close on the glass (Charlotte, 47-40), yet the discrepancy at the line proved to be too much to overcome.

–  Seven different Miners tallied at least six points in the contest, with Tamara Seda (17 points, eight points) and Najala Howell (11 points, six rebounds) leading the way.

–  Lulu McKinney flirted with a double-double (eight points, eight assists).

–  Freshmen Jakeira Ford and Zuzanna Puc also pitched in eight points while Roeshonda Patterson drilled a pair of triples.

–  Sparkle Taylor scored six points to go along with eight rebounds.

UTEP Guards Artis, Harris Garner All-Conference Recognition

UTEP senior guard Dominic Artis was named second team All-Conference USA on Monday and junior guard Omega Harris was appointed third team All-League, based on a vote by head coaches and media.

It marks the first time since 2014 that UTEP has had multiple All-Conference honorees.  Vince Hunter and Julian Washburn were second team selections that year, and John Bohannon was third team.

Artis is trying to become the first player to lead the Miners in rebounding (6.3 rpg), assists (5.9 apg) and steals (1.9 spg).  He is also the first player in UTEP history, and only the fourth in C-USA history, to tally 400 points, 150 rebounds, 150 assists and 50 steals in a season.  He has led the Miners in scoring seven times, rebounds 10 times, assists 24 times and steals 20 times in 2016-17.

Harris is tied with Artis for the team lead in double-figure scoring games (27) and tops the squad with eight 20-point games, most by a Miner in six years.  He is averaging a team-leading 16.8 points.  Harris posted career-highs for points (27), rebounds (10) and steals (five) in the regular season finale against Charlotte on Saturday and also scored his 1,000th career point versus the 49ers.

The first team is composed of LA Tech’s Erik McCree, Marshall’s Jon Elmore, Middle Tennessee’s JaCorey Williams, and Rice’s Marcus Evans and Egor Koulechov.  Joining Artis on the second team are Charlotte’s Jon Davis, Middle Tennessee’s Reggie Upshaw Jr., UAB’s William Lee and WKU’s Justin Johnson.  The third team features Harris, LA Tech’s Jacobi Boykins, Marshall’s Ryan Taylor, Middle Tennesee’s Giddy Potts and Old Dominion’s Ahmad Caver.

The Miners (14-16, 12-6 C-USA), who tied for third place in C-USA, will face either Southern Miss or Rice in the C-USA Championship quarterfinals on Thursday at 1 p.m. MT in Birmingham, Ala.

The game will be televised on the American Sports Network and can be seen in El Paso on KFOX channel 14 or over the air CBS 4.2.

2016-17 ALL-CONFERENCE USA FIRST TEAM

Erik McCree, Louisiana Tech, Sr., F, 6-8. 225, Orlando, Florida

Jon Elmore, Marshall, Jr., G, 6-3, 189, Charleston, West Virginia

JaCorey Williams, Middle Tennessee, Sr., F, 6-8, 220, Birmingham, Alabama

Marcus Evans, Rice, So., G, 6-2, 195, Chesapeake, Virginia

Egor Koulechov, Rice, R-Jr., G/F, 6-5, 210, Volgograd, Russia

2016-17 ALL-CONFERENCE USA SECOND TEAM

Jon Davis, Charlotte, So., G, 6-3, 195, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Reggie Upshaw Jr., Middle Tennessee, Sr., G, 6-8, 228, Chattanooga, Tennessee

William Lee, UAB, Jr., F, 6-9, 210, Plantersville, Alabama

Dominic Artis, UTEP, Sr., G, 6-3, 190, San Francisco, California

Justin Johnson, WKU, Jr., F, 6-6, 240, Hazard, Kentucky

2016-17 ALL-CONFERENCE USA THIRD TEAM

Jacobi Boykins, Louisiana Tech, Jr., G, 6-6, 175, St. Petersburg, Florida

Ryan Taylor, Marshall, Sr., F, 6-5, 249, Indianapolis, Indiana

Giddy Potts, Middle Tennessee, Jr., G, 6-2, 217, Athens, Alabama

Ahmad Caver, Old Dominion, So., G, 6-2, 170, Atlanta, Georgia

Omega Harris, UTEP, Jr., G, 6-3, 165, Bethany, Oklahoma

Taylor Named To 2017 All-Conference USA Second Team

Senior Sparkle Taylor has been voted to the 2017 All-Conference USA second team, it was announced by the league office Sunday afternoon. It is the first such honor for Taylor, who previously in her career had been recognized as the 2016 C-USA Sixth Player of the Year.

“Conference USA has an extremely talented pool of players,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “To be selected as an all-conference player is a high honor and a great award. I’m proud of Sparkle. I look forward to us playing next week.”

Taylor has put together one of the finest seasons in program history. She has amassed 539 points this year, the fourth-most points ever by a Miner in a campaign. The Flint, Mich., native reached double figures in scoring 25 times, including 14 contests with 20+ points. That is the most such tilts by a Miner since Kayla Thornton (16, 2013-14).

Taylor is second in C-USA in field goals attempted (460), third in field goals made (212), fourth in points/game (18.0), sixth in free throws made (113), seventh in free throws attempted (146), 11th in free-throw percentage (77.4) and in defensive boards/game (4.4) and 13th in rebounding (6.3).

Nationally she is 27th in field goals made, 36th in field goals attempted, 59th in points/game, 81st in free throws made, 106th in free throws attempted, 128th in field-goal percentage and 173rd for free-throw percentage.

Taylor was named the C-USA Player of the Week (2/20) after a historic performance. She scored 34 points against both North Texas (2/16) and Rice (2/18) to become the first player in program history to post back-to-back 30+ point games. Prior to those performances, no Miner had scored that many points in a league game in 26 years (Holly Russ, 35 vs. San Diego State-1/19/91) and tied as the sixth-highest scoring output in program history.

Taylor and the rest of the Miners will return to action at the 2017 C-USA Championships Presented by MetroPCS. UTEP will be the 11th seed and match-up with sixth-seed Old Dominion in in an opening-round contest at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST in Birmingham, Ala. Wednesday.

The entire All-Conference USA teams, All-Freshman team and All-Defensive team are listed below. Voting was conducted by league coaches, sports information directors and designated media members.

All-Conference USA First Team

Grace Hunter, Charlotte | So., Raleigh, North Carolina

*Ty Petty, Middle Tennessee | Sr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Alex Johnson, Middle Tennessee | So., Murfreesboro, Tennessee

**Jennie Simms, Old Dominion | R-Sr., Accokeek, Maryland

Brittanny Dinkins, Southern Miss | Sr., Miami, Florida

Loryn Goodwin, UTSA | Jr., Cypress, Texas

Ivy Brown, WKU | Jr., Hodgenville, Kentucky

**Kendall Noble, WKU | R-Sr., Hazard, Kentucky

 

All-Conference USA Second Team

**Lefty Webster, Charlotte | Sr., Norfolk, Virginia

Kierra Anthony, LA Tech | So., New Iberia, Louisiana

Shayna Gore, Marshall | So., Logan, West Virginia

Destinee Young, Old Dominion | Sr., Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Jasmine Goodwine, Rice | Sr., Killeen, Texas

Sparkle Taylor, UTEP | Sr., Flint, Michigan

Tesha Smith, UTSA | Sr., San Antonio, Texas

*Tashia Brown, WKU | Jr., Lake Park, Georgia

Conference USA All-Defensive Team

Nyilah Jamison-Myers, Charlotte | R-Jr., Orangeburg, South Carolina

Lefty Webster, Charlotte | Sr., Norfolk, Virginia

Abbey Sissom, Middle Tennessee | Jr., Woodbury, Tennessee

Destinee Young, Old Dominion | R-Jr., Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Brittanny Dinkins, Southern Miss | Sr., Miami, Florida

**Kendall Noble, WKU | R-Sr., Hazard, Kentucky

Conference USA All-Freshman Team

Alexis Gordon, FIU | Palm Bay, Florida

Ashley Saintegene, Marshall | Lauderdale Lakes, Florida

Shonte Hailes, Southern Miss | Quitman, Mississippi

Miyah Barnes, UAB | Memphis, Tennessee

Rachael Childress, UAB | Moulton, Alabama

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Gallery+Story: Miners Edge Charlotte 74-67; Wrap Up C-USA Tourney Bye

Omega Harris established career-highs for points (27), rebounds (10) and steals (five) as UTEP clinched a first-round bye in next week’s Conference USA Championships with a 74-67 win over Charlotte on Saturday in the Haskins Center.

The Miners (14-16, 12-6 C-USA) will have a share of third place in the final C-USA standings after Old Dominion lost at UTSA, 73-55, on Saturday.  UTEP will be seeded fourth in the C-USA Championships and will face the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between the no. 5 and 12 seeds at a time to be announced on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala.

The C-USA Championships bracket will be released on Saturday night.

“Really exciting time of the year and I am so pleased for our guys that they have given themselves an easier path at a time when everybody is hopeful in our league,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “I do think Middle Tennessee is in [the NCAA Tournament] and hopefully there will be two bids, and somebody else will secure the championship like us.  I’m as proud of this team as any I have coached, given that they didn’t give in and they have just continued to come to work every day and address who they’re not and try to get better. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

The Miners will enter the C-USA Championships having won 12 of their last 15 games following a 2-13 start.

On Saturday, UTEP never trailed in winning a wire-to-wire game for the second time this season.  But the Miners never led by more than 11 points, and it took a late 8-0 run to put it away after Charlotte pulled within three (63-60) with 3:31 remaining.

Harris scored 22 points in the second half, including eight in the last five minutes.  He was 6-for-12 from the field and 9-for-11 from the line in 18 second-half minutes.

Paul Thomas had a double-double (15 points/11 rebounds), Matt Willms scored 11 points and Dominic Artis added 10 points, six rebounds and eight assists on his “Senior Day.”

Floyd said Artis was the catalyst in a 45-point second half after the Miners were only ahead by four (29-25) at halftime and shot 38.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

“I thought Dominic really kind of got us going in the second half, just by finding open guys, open looks,” he said.  “I remember him cutting across the lane and kicking it out to Trey [Touchet] for a three, kicking it out to Jake [Flaggert] for a three.  He was selfless on his senior night.”

Artis was also huge against Conference USA’s no. 2 scorer, Jon Davis, who finished with seven points on 2-for-12 shooting.

“He had two field goals and I think one of them was against Trey Touchet late on a drive by,” Floyd said.  “He just really took it on himself, and I think that’s the area where D.A. has improved the most since he got here. You look at his numbers at Oregon and look at his numbers his senior year.  He’s made great, great strides and I really commend him because when we were 2-13, it’s really easy to play for yourself.  But it has been about winning.  He has worked as hard as any young guy that we have ever had.  He beats himself up on mistakes and turnovers.  He beats himself up over losses, which a lot of kids don’t do anymore.  I give him a lot of credit for helping us get this thing turned around.”

Charlotte (13-16, 7-11 C-USA) was led by Adrian White who scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half.

“That’s a team that can really score tonight, and they didn’t look like it as much,” Floyd said.  “I thought we did some great things defensively.  These guys understand their identity.  We had no identity early, but I think we do now.”

Now it’s time for postseason play, and the Miners feel good about their chances at Legacy Arena in Birmingham.

“We talked about it in the postgame and I asked them, ‘Is there anybody you feel that you can’t beat?’  And they all said ‘Absolutely not,’” Floyd said.  “They are eager, they’re excited and they have confidence.”

Gallery courtesy Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald-Post

Miners Battle But Fall At Charlotte 84-74

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-  The UTEP women’s basketball team fought hard but was upended in the regular-season finale by a count of 84-74 at Charlotte Saturday evening.

The Miners (8-22, 5-13 C-USA) came out firing to lead by as many as 15 (37-22, 6:49 second quarter) but to their credit the 49ers (20-9, 12-6 C-USA) fought back. They did so primarily at the charity stripe, making 22-25 tosses. UTEP finished at 6-8 from the line, and was tagged for 25 of the 35 infractions in the contest.

The Miners shot 43.7 percent (31-71) from the floor-compared to the 49ers’ readout of 38.4 percent (28-73) and kept it close on the glass (Charlotte, 47-40), yet the discrepancy at the line proved to be too much to overcome.

“I’m proud of our team for playing team ball today,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We executed and passed the ball but got in some foul trouble. We’re closer than what we think. Charlotte is one of the better teams in the conference. We competed and played hard.”

The Miners relied on a balanced offensive attack with seven different players tallying at least six points in the contest. Tamara Seda (17 points, eight points) and Najala Howell (11 points, six rebounds) hit double digits in scoring to key the efforts but there were plenty of other notable performances. Lulu McKinney scored eight points while also dishing out eight assists.

Freshmen Jakeira Ford and Zuzanna Puc also pitched in eight points while senior Sparkle Taylor scored six points to go along with eight rebounds. Freshman Roeshonda Patterson drilled a pair of triples for six points.

Charlotte was top heavy in its play, as Grace Hunter (30 points, 15 rebounds) and Ciara Gregory (26 points) combined for 56 points. No other player reached double figures in scoring for the 49ers, although Lefty Webster (nine points, five boards) and Laia Raventos (seven points, five rebounds, five assists) filled up the stat sheet.

Taylor has now tallied 539 points this season, the fourth-most points ever by a Miner during a campaign. Meanwhile McKinney’s 149 assists in 2016-17 also rank fourth on UTEP’s single-season charts.

The Miners will now flip the script with a fresh start at the 2017 C-USA Championships Presented by MetroPCS. UTEP will be the 11th seed and match-up with sixth-seed Old Dominion in an opening-round contest at 8 p.m. MST/9 p.m. CST in Birmingham, Ala. Wednesday.

“We’ve still got a chance to have that ‘ah-hah’ moment where the light turns on for this young team,” Adams said. “It’s frustrating and disappointing but we have to delete everything bad that’s happened in the past. Next week is like a brand new season. We get a chance to play against Wednesday night.”

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H-P Sports In Depth: Miners Close out Regular Season vs Charlotte; Salute Senior Artis

UTEP (13-16, 11-6 C-USA) faces Charlotte (13-15, 7-10 C-USA) in the regular season finale on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Haskins Center.

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Miners will pay tribute to their lone senior Dominic Artis. The Miners are 1-4 in day games this season, and 30-17 under coach Tim Floyd.

UTEP is playing its third C-USA afternoon game of the season; the Miners lost at UTSA on Jan. 1 (67-55) and at Southern Miss on Jan. 7 (73-65).  This is UTEP’s first afternoon conference game in the Haskins Center since the 2015-16 regular season finale versus UTSA, which the Miners won 81-74.

The Miners can clinch the no. 4 seed and a first round bye in next week’s Conference USA Championships Presented by metroPCS with a victory or a Rice loss at WKU later in the day.

The Miners are 6-2 in C-USA home games with one-point losses to LA Tech (62-61) on Feb. 9 and Old Dominion (62-61) on Thursday.  UTEP is 22-3 in its last 25 league home games dating back to the 2014-15 season.

SERIES HISTORY

–    The Miners are 1-4 against Charlotte.  The lone victory came during the 2014-15 season, 73-68 in the Haskins Center.
–    The 49ers have won two of the first three games played between the teams in El Paso.

THE LAST MEETING

–    Braxton Ogbueze scored seven of his game-high 24 points during a decisive 19-4 run in the second half as Charlotte upended UTEP, 88-78, on Feb. 27, 2016 at Halton Arena.
–    The Miners set a school record for first half field goal percentage (.750) but only led 47-40.  In the second half, they shot 33.3 percent and were outscored 48-31.
–    Charlotte shot 48.4 percent for the game and made 10-of-23 three-pointers and 18-of-20 free throws.
–    The Miners led for most of the first half. They took their largest lead of 10 points (61-51) with 14:58remaining on two free throws by Lee Moore.
–    Charlotte’s Andrien White, who scored 22 points, followed with a three-pointer and a dunk to slice the deficit in half (61-56) before being helped to the locker room with an injury.
–    The 19-4 run continued without him as Ogbueze’s three-pointer with 9:53 to go gave Charlotte its first lead (66-63) since it was 28-27 in the first half.
–    Omega Harris’ layup made it a one-point game (66-65), but the 49ers countered with the next four points.  Moore’s jumper drew UTEP within three (70-67) with about eight minutes left, but Ogbueze nailed a three with 7:10 to play and the Miners couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the night.
–    Joseph Uchebo had 15 points and 10 rebounds on “Senior Day” for Charlotte, and Curran Scott scored 12 off the bench.
–    UTEP placed five players in double figure scoring – Moore (16 points), Earvin Morris (15), Hooper Vint (14), Dominic Artis (13) and Harris (12).

LAST GAME: OLD DOMINION 62 – UTEP 61

–    Zoran Talley made two free throws with 2.5 seconds left, and officials ruled that Matt Willms’ tip-in came after the buzzer sounded as Old Dominion held on for a 62-61 victory at UTEP on Thursday night.
–    The Miners inbounded the ball with 2.1 seconds left.  Omega Harris missed a jumper and Willms tipped it in for the apparent game winner.  House replays showed the ball leaving Willms’ hand with 0.1 seconds on the clock.  But the officials ruled the clock wasn’t started immediately on the inbound, meaning Willms’ shot came after time had run out.
–    The Miners trailed 51-40 with 7:17 remaining, and nearly pulled off their fourth win in C-USA play when trailing by double digits in the second half.
–    UTEP was down 53-45 with 5:54 left, but went on a 16-5 run over the next five minutes and took a three-point lead (61-58) on an NBA-range three-pointer by Harris with 1:03 to go.
–    After Talley made a jumper with 52 seconds remaining to cut it to one, Dominic Artis was fouled with 19.5 seconds left.  He missed both free throws.  Following a jump ball call on the other end that awarded the ball to ODU, Paul Thomas was whistled for a foul with 2.5 seconds on the clock.  Talley, a 60 percent foul shooter, swished both for what turned out to be the decisive points.
–    The Miners struggled mightily offensively in the second half – at one point going  eight and a half minutes without a field goal — before coming alive behind Trey Touchet, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.
–    A personal 10-0 run by Touchet carved a 48-38 deficit down to 53-48.  Jake Flaggert got the Miners closer on a three-pointer with 3:45 to play, setting up the wild finish.
–    Harris led the Miners with 14 points.  Touchet made 3-of-5 shots, 2-of-3 three pointers and 4-of-4 free throws.  Artis had 11 points and six assists, and Thomas scored 10 points.
–    Talley scored 17 points for Old Dominion, and B.J. Stith added 12.  The Monarchs outscored UTEP 8-0 in second chance points in the first half in building a 31-27 lead after the Miners led by seven a few times early.

ABOUT CHARLOTTE

–    The 49ers continue to feature one of the most explosive offenses in C-USA in year two under the direction of former NBA star Mark Price.
–    Charlotte is averaging 77 points per game (fourth in C-USA).  The 49ers are shooting 37.2 percent from three-point territory (second in C-USA) and averaging 7.8 made triples per game (third).
–    Charlotte’s dynamic sophomore guard Jon Davis is averaging 19.9 ppg, second in C-USA behind Marshall’s Jon Elmore (20.3 ppg).  Davis is shooting 49.3 percent from the floor, 39.5 percent from beyond the arc and 78.5 percent from the charity stripe.
–    Lending support are junior guard Austin Ajukwa (11.6 ppg), a Clemson transfer, along with sophomore guard Andrien White (10.7 ppg) and senior guard Braxton Ogbueze (10.3 ppg).
–    Charlotte’s struggles have come on the defensive end where they are yielding 80.7 points per game, and on the boards where they have a rebound margin of -7.6 per outing.
–    The 49ers are 3-8 on the road, including 2-6 in league action with a victory at North Texas (82-81) on Jan. 26 and at UTSA (76-75) on Thursday.
–    The 49ers are 3-8 on the road, including 2-6 in league action with a victory at North Texas (82-81) on Jan. 26 and at UTSA (76-75) on Thursday.
–    Davis scored 17 points and made the game-winning three at the buzzer in Thursday’s win over the Roadrunners.  The 49ers trailed 70-62 with under three minutes remaining before going on a 9-0 run.
–    Charlotte made 10-of-18 three pointers, including 6-of-9 in the second half, as Ogbueze was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.
–    Mark Price was  an  assistant  coach  with  the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks during the 2009-10 season, the same year UTEP’s Tim Floyd was an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets.
–    Price  and  legendary  UTEP  coach Don Haskins are both alumni of Enid (Okla.) High School.

H-P Sports In Depth: Miners Close Out Regular Season at Charlotte

UTEP (8-21, 5-12 C-USA) will close out the regular season at Charlotte (19-9, 11-6 C-USA) at 5 p.m. MST Saturday.

Regardless of the outcome the Miners will be seeded 11th at the 2017 C-USA Championships presented by MetroPCS (March 8-11), but they’d love to generate some momentum for the league’s pinnacle event.

UTEP’s two-game winning streak was halted with a 87-68 setback at Old Dominion Thursday (3/2) The 49ers enter the match-up as winners of two straight, including a 78-67 conquest of UTSA Thursday (3/2).

This is the lone scheduled meeting on the year between the programs, but it’s possible that they could square off in the C-USA Championships presented by MetroPCS (March 8-11). Charlotte is 9-4 at home (4-4 C-USA). UTEP is 1-8 on the road (1-7 C-USA).

Fans can listen live to Brandon Cohn’s call on 600 ESPN El Paso while also watching online at ESPN3 (subscription required). Updates may also be found by following the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or 49ers (@CharlotteWBB) on Twitter.

THIS AND THAT ON CONFERENCE USA

–  Teams play all 13 members at least once and face five teams in home-and-home for 18-game C-USA slate.

–  The field is set for the single-elimination 2017 C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS (March 8-11, Birmingham, Ala.-UAB), but teams are still jockeying for position.

–  WKU (15-2) will be the top seed and Middle Tennessee (14-3) has the second seed locked up. The Miners (5-12) are locked in at 11th and Marshall (4-13) will be 12th.

–  The winner of LA Tech and Southern Miss (Friday) will have the third seed.

–  Seeds four through six (UTEP’s first-round opponent) will be either LA Tech (12-5) or Southern Miss (12-5), and Charlotte (11-6) and Old Dominion (11-6) in and order to be determined.

–  UTSA (9-8) will be between seeds 7-9 while North Texas (8-9) and Rice (8-9) will fall between seeds 7-10.

–  Host UAB (7-10) could be finish anywhere between seeds 8-10.

–  The top four teams as seeded by the regular-season standings receive a bye. The tournament winning will gain the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

 INSIDE THE SERIES (UTEP LEADS, 2-1 OVERALL; UTEP LEADS, 1-0 IN CHARLOTTE)

–  UTEP leads the series, 2-1, with victories in each of the past two seasons.

–  The Miners outlasted Charlotte, 94-91, in double overtime to claim the outright 2016 C-USA regular-season championship in front of a roaring 4,012 fans at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 27.

–  During the 2014-15 campaign UTEP won 75-72 at Halton Arena (2/12/15)

–  Charlotte won the first meeting between the programs, 92-86, in El Paso on Jan. 18, 2014.

GETTING TO KNOW CHARLOTTE

Overall: 19-9                 Home: 9-4   Road 10-3   Neutral 0-2 | C-USA: 11-6                  Home: 4-4   Road 7-2

–  Charlotte returned three starters and six letter winners overall from last year’s team (19-12, 12-6 C-USA). The 49ers earned an at-large bid to the WNIT but were edged by Wake Forest (L, 72-69, 3/17/16).

–  Charlotte has 14 postseason appearances (12 WNIT, two NCAA) in program history.

–  Charlotte is 18-9 this season, and appears poised to play postseason basketball for the 14th time in the past 15 years (no bid in 2015). The 49ers went to the “Big Dance” in 2003 and 2009 while making WNIT runs in the other seasons.

–  After a 3-3 start to the season, Charlotte caught fire to win nine straight and 14 of the next 16 contests. The 49ers then lost four straight (by a combined 12 points) but they’ve bounced back to win back-to-back contests since.

–  Charlotte leads C-USA in blocks/game (5.9) and assists/game (16.9). It is also second in scoring offense (74.0) and field-goal percentage defense (38.9), third in turnovers forced/game (17.9) and turnover margin (+2.5), fourth for 3-point field-goal percentage (34.6), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (30.8), scoring margin (+7.0) and steals/game (9.0), fifth in fewest turnovers/game (15.4), sixth in  rebounds/game (38.5) and seventh in field-goal percentage (43.7).

–  The 49ers have top-100 NCAA team rankings several categories: they are eighth in blocks/game, 16th for assists/game, 37th in scoring offense, 50th for field-goal percentage, 59th in 3-point field-goal percentage, 66th for turnover margin, 75th in turnovers forced/game, 85th for scoring margin and 87th in steals/game.

–  Grace Hunter is fifth in C-USA for rebounds/game (8.2), fifth in defensive boards/game (5.4), seventh for scoring (17.2) and minutes/game (34.6), ninth for blocks/game (0.8) 11th in free-throw percentage (77.3), field-goal percentage (48.3) and offensive boards/game (2.9), Hunter is 89th nationally for field-goal percentage.

–  Lefty Webster is tied third in C-USA for assists/game (5.0), fourth for steals/game (2.4), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8) and minutes/game (35.9) and 3-point percentage (38.0), tied seventh in defensive boards/game (4.7), eighth for blocks/game (1.0) and in free-throw percentage (79.5), 13th for points/game (13.5) and 14th in rebounds/game (6.3).  Webster has top-100 NCAA rankings for assists/game (47th), minutes/game (62nd), total steals (64th), total assists (66th), steals/game (67th),  and field-goal percentage (97th).

–  Nyilah Jamison-Myers paces C-USA for blocks/game (2.0), is eighth in field-goal percentage (50.8), tied eighth for offensive boards/game (2.8), 19th in rebounding (5.9) and 27th in scoring (11.3). Jamison-Myers has top-100 NCAA rankings for blocked shots/game (46th) and total blocked shots (52nd).

–  Ciara Gregory leads C-USA in 3-pointers/game (3.3), 3-point makes (90) and attempts (246).. She is also 11th for scoring (14.2) and 3-point percentage (36.5). Gregory is among the top-100 nationally for 3-pointers/game (sixth), 3-point attempts (ninth) and makes (ninth) and percentage (93rd).

–  Laia Raevntós is tied for third for assists/game (5.0), fifth in C-USA in steals/game (2.3) and 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). Raevntós is among the top-100 nationally for assists/game (47th), steals/game (72nd), total assists (74th) and total steals (85th).

–  Notable university alumni include Clay Aiken (Broadway star/American Idol runner-up), John Maine (former MLB pitcher) and Robert F. Hull, Jr. (CEO of Lowes).

LAST MEETING WITH CHARLOTTE: at UTEP 94, Charlotte 91 (OT),  Feb. 27, 2016

–  UTEP forced 30 turnovers and got big efforts from several players to outlast Charlotte, 94-91, in double overtime to claim the outright 2016 Conference USA regular-season championship in front of a roaring 4,012 fans at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 27.

–  Jenzel Nash enjoyed a monstrous game (career-high 31 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals in career-high 47 minutes) to lead the way for the Miner, who pushed their overall win streak to seven while halting the 49ers’ undefeated surge at five.

–  Lulu McKinney buoyed Nash with 18 points, including two big triples in the second overtime period, while Starr Breedlove (13 points) and Cameasha Turner (12 points) also hit double figures in scoring.

–  Charlotte shot 51.6 percent (33-64) from the floor and won the boards (50-36) but was done in by the relentless pressure from the Orange and Blue.  UTEP had a 43-2 advantage in points off turnovers, in addition to a notable 34-3 cushion for bench scoring.

–  The visitors looked poised to hand UTEP its first home loss of the year, leading 72-70 with 15 seconds to play in regulation and in possession of the ball. Nash had other ideas, though, coming up with a steal and drawing a foul. She calmly sank both charity stripe tosses to tie the tilt. Charlotte called timeout to set up a play but misfired at the buzzer.

–  There were just eight points total in the first overtime, and Nash’s potential game-winning shot wouldn’t drop with one tick left to send it to double overtime. Nash nailed a triple to get the scoring started in the second extra period before a free throw by Laia Raventos made it 79-77 UTEP with 3:15 on the clock.

McKinney then took over, draining clutch triples on consecutive possessions to give the Miners some much-needed breathing room (85-78, 1:42 to play).

–  Charlotte continued to battle down the stretch but never got closer than three the rest of the way.

–  It was the first double-overtime game at the school since 2005-06.

–  It marked the second game in program history with both teams scoring 90+ points.

GOING BACK IN TIME (at Old Dominion 87, UTEP 68, March 2, 2017)

.-  Sparkle Taylor continued her blistering play offensively with a 27-point outburst while Tamara Seda (13 points) andLulu McKinney (10 points) also reached double figures in scoring but it wasn’t enough in a 87-68 setback at Old Dominion Thursday.

–  Jennie Simms poured in 30 points to go along with seven assists to lead the charge for the Lady Monarchs. ODU also received big games from Destinee Young (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Ashley Jackson (12 points, six rebounds).

–  UTEP took good care of the basketball (13 turnovers) while forcing 17 giveaways that led to 18 points, kept it competitive on the glass (ODU, 38-33) and shot 39.4 percent (28-71) but the home side compensated for all that with a tremendous shooting night. The Lady Monarchs nailed 60.7 percent (37-61) from the field, including 76.9 percent (10-13) in the third quarter and 66.7 percent (10-15) in the final frame.

–  ODU built a 34-20 lead midway through the second quarter but UTEP fought to get within seven (39-32). Unfortunately the Lady Monarchs used a 9-0 run early in the third quarter to push out by 15 and UTEP couldn’t get closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Gallery+Story: Broken-Hearted Buzzer Beater: ODU Edges UTEP 62-61

Zoran Talley made two free throws with 2.5 seconds left, and officials ruled that Matt Willms’ tip-in came after the buzzer sounded as Old Dominion held on for a 62-61 victory at UTEP on Thursday night.

The Monarchs (19-10, 12-5 C-USA) clinched the no. 3 seed in next week’s Conference USA Championship. UTEP (13-16, 11-6 C-USA) will secure the no. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the tournament with a win over Charlotte on Saturday at 1 p.m.  The Miners can also get the no. 4 seed if Rice loses at WKU Saturday night.

The Miners inbounded the ball with 2.1 seconds left.  Omega Harris missed a jumper and Willms tipped it in for the apparent game winner.  House replays showed the ball leaving Willms’ hand with 0.1 seconds on the clock.  But the officials ruled the clock wasn’t started immediately on the inbound, meaning Willms’ shot came after time had run out.

“Really well-played game by two very good teams, two very good defensive clubs,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “Real proud of our guys and our execution.  Omega obviously stepped up and made a couple of really big shots late.  Dominic Artis did as well.  I thought we defended exceedingly well down the stretch and a couple of big plays may or may not have gone our way.”

The Miners trailed 51-40 – their largest deficit of the game – with 7:17 remaining.  They nearly pulled off their fourth win in C-USA play when trailing by double digits in the second half.  But this one wasn’t meant to be.

UTEP was down 53-45 with 5:54 left, but went on a 16-5 run over the next five minutes and took a three-point lead (61-58) on an NBA-range three-pointer by Harris with 1:03 to go.  After Talley made a jumper with 52 seconds remaining to cut it to one, Dominic Artis was fouled with 19.5 seconds left.  He missed both free throws.

Following a jump ball call on the other end that awarded the ball to ODU, Paul Thomas was whistled for a foul with 2.5 seconds on the clock.  Talley, a 60 percent foul shooter, swished both for what turned out to be the decisive points.

“The foul with [2.5] seconds to go, from our vantage point it looked like a kickout leg and shot.  You expect that.  But their guy makes two free throws,” Floyd said.  “I thought we had good execution there on the last inbounds play.  We got it right where we needed to get it.  We got a great look.  These guys wear these clocks on their hips.  I thought they were the ones that were supposed to start the clock.”

Originally it appeared Willms’ shot was good, but the officials took time to review before waving it off.

“A guy marks it good, so it’s got to be irrefutable,” Floyd said.  “And apparently he felt like, based on looking at his little thing on his hip versus the other, that [the clock] may not have started on time from the scorer’s desk.  How would I know without looking at things, but I know it’s got to be irrefutable when they mark the basket good.  It’s where it is.”

The Miners struggled mightily offensively in the second half – at one point going  eight and a half minutes without a field goal — before coming alive behind Trey Touchet, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.

A personal 10-0 run by Touchet carved a 48-38 deficit down to 53-48.  Jake Flaggert got the Miners closer on a three-pointer with 3:45 to play, setting up the wild finish.

Harris led the Miners with 14 points.  Touchet made 3-of-5 shots, 2-of-3 three pointers and 4-of-4 free throws.  Artis had 11 points and six assists, and Thomas scored 10 points.

Talley scored 17 points for Old Dominion, and B.J. Stith added 12.  The Monarchs outscored UTEP 8-0 in second chance points in the first half in building a 31-27 lead after the Miners led by seven a few times early.

“I thought Matt [Willms] was not allowed to do his thing down there,” Floyd said.  “I thought it was a very physical game in the first half.  We started playing through screen and roll in the second half.  I thought that Talley, who was a 60 percent free throw shooter, stepped up and made free throws when they needed it. Omega stepped up with a couple of big-time shots that really helped us.  We got great play from Trey Touchet tonight.  I thought Paul played well also.”

UTEP’s five-game win streak came to an end, while Old Dominion won its fifth straight.

“The last time we lost a game here at home, 62-61, was LA Tech [Feb. 9] and we went on a five-game win streak after that,” Floyd said.  “So we’ll have to regroup and get it behind us.  I thought our guys played with their hearts and souls and I thought our fans were fabulous.  Absolutely great.  And we’ll move on to the next one.

“The three losses that we’ve had during this stretch, we had a chance to win every game.  I couldn’t be prouder of our guys, I couldn’t be prouder of how they have conducted themselves in representing this school.  We’re going to come out and we’re going to play spirited again on Saturday afternoon.”

Saturday is Senior Day and Artis’ final home appearance for the Miners.  Tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234, with all seats in the non-Gold sections $8 and $10.

Gallery of photos courtesy Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald-Post

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