Photo by Ruben R Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
HOUSTON – UTEP and Rice both clinched spots in the 2020 Conference USA Championships next week. Now, the Miners and Owls will play in a winner take 11-seed on Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. CT/12 MT tipoff time in Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Miners (16-14, 7-10 C-USA) won their third consecutive game after edging Middle Tennessee, 60-56, on March 4, while the Owls (15-15, 7-10 C-USA) has won their second straight, winning at Southern Miss, 72-57, on Wednesday night.
Only a trio of seedings have been set as North Texas won the regular season C-USA title for the no. 1 overall seed. Charlotte (10-7) is the no. 4 seed, clinching a first-round bye, and FIU (9-8) holds the no. 5 spot.
Daryl Edwards has been playing lights out, as the graduate transfer from LSU scored 25 points to lead the Miners past the Blue Raiders. He tied his career-high with 11 made field goals, while hitting three more treys on Wednesday night. Edwards added four assists and three rebounds.
Edwards is averaging 28.3 points per game his last three outings. He’s also made 71 three-point buckets this season, becoming the fifth Miner to hit 70-plus threes during a single season.
Souley Boum, who scored 13 points (nine in the second half), iced the game with a pair of free throws with nine seconds that gave UTEP the 60-56 advantage. Moments earlier, Tydus Verhoeven came up with a blocked shot with 41 seconds remaining with the game tied at 56. Bryson Williams drew a foul with the Miners in the bonus on the ensuing possession, hitting both free throws for the go-ahead 58-56 lead.
UTEP won its second road game of the season, matching its 2017-18 total. The Miners won their third consecutive C-USA game for the first time since the 2016-17 season when they won five-consecutive from Feb. 11 – Feb. 25.
The Orange and Blue has also advanced to the C-USA Tournament for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
The Miners have clipped the Owls twice already this season. UTEP chalked up its first road win in over a year, defeating Rice in Houston, 72-64, on January 23.
The Owls almost got their revenge on February 22 in El Paso when they built a 19-point lead, but the Miners rallied, using a 19-0 run to fly past the Owls, 68-62.
The contest can be heard on UTEP’s flagship station 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action. The game will also be streamed on CUSA.tv.