FRISCO, Texas – Charlene Mass split a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds left in overtime to lead No. 7 UTSA to a 58-57 win over No. 6 UTEP in the first round of the 2022 C-USA Basketball Championships on Tuesday night in the Ford Center at The Star.
In a physical overtime period, it was Destiny Thurman who evened the score for UTEP (14-15, 6-12 Conference USA) at 57-57 on a putback off a Katia Gallegos miss with 1:20 left.
Later, looking at a three-second difference between the shot clock and the game clock with 33 seconds left, the Roadrunners (7-22, 3-14 Conference USA) rushed a shot up by Mass that was rebounded by Teal Battle.
The Miners then went to Gallegos to try for the game-winner in the paint on their opportunity, however the shot did not fall and UTSA grabbed the rebound. Mass would then get fouled in the backcourt, sending her to the line where she would miss the first off the right side of the rim before connecting on the second.
A last-second attempt by Thurman would not fall at the buzzer, allowing UTSA to advance to play No. 3 Old Dominion on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. MT/11:30 a.m. CT.
“That’s a tough way to lose,” UTEP Head Coach Kevin Baker said. “Any time that you lose on a call like that it’s a tough way to go down. It really probably should have been a play on. Everything else in that game was a play on, and that should have been a play on too.”
Thurman had a major impact for the Miners on the night, scoring a team-high 23 points and equaling a career high with seven rebounds for the second consecutive game. Thurman was 8-of-19 from the floor and drilled four 3-pointers.
Trailing 51-48 with 1:05 left in regulation, Battle helped to force the extra period by grabbing an Avery Crouse miss and putting it back up and in to bring UTEP within a point.
A pair of Gallegos swishes at the charity stripe with 15 seconds left then pushed the Miners into the lead at 52-51.
Jadyn Pimentel was sent to the line for UTSA with 7.4 seconds on the clock, rimming off the first and draining the second to tie the game at 52. Thurman would follow with an attempt that did not fall, sending the game to overtime.
“It’s a microcosm of our season,” Baker said. “That’s what that game really was. We fight, we claw, we scratch and we can’t make a shot. That’s really how this season has gone for us. We went from one of the highest scoring offenses in the country to a team that couldn’t score. Our coaches and our players will search for answers all offseason to try to figure it out because there is enough talent in the room to win those games.”
After racing out to a 20-7 lead over the first nine minutes of the contest, the Miners began to face resistance from a pesky Roadrunners team that would hold UTEP without a made field goal for a 12:16 stretch from the 1:39 mark of the first quarter until there was 9:37 remaining in the third. During that run, UTSA cut a 13-point deficit down to just two points.
Mahri Petree had seven points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Miners, who were 18-of-58 (31 percent) from the field on the night and 7-of-21 (33.3 percent) on 3-pointers.
“The bottom line is we could not make a shot,” Baker said. “I cannot figure out why. We had really good shots and really good looks, and in the second half I thought we ran a much better offense and found better shots, but they just wouldn’t go in.”
UTSA hit at a 21-of-59 (35.6 percent) clip from the floor and went 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) on triples. The Roadrunners were paced by a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds for Elyssa Coleman. Pimentel contributed 14 points, six rebounds, six steals and three assists.
The Miners won the battle on the boards 45-37.