It was a wild night in the Haskins Center that saw 54 fouls committed, 75 free throws attempted, and Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy run from the arena. In the end though, it saw the Miners walk away with the 82-74 victory.
The Miners jumped out early on the Rams, scoring the game's first six points and jumping out to a 14-5 lead more than seven minutes into the game. CSU would quickly respond though, scoring 11 straight to pull ahead 16-14 a little more than two minutes later.
The two teams would trade leads for the majority of the remainder of the first twenty minutes, but a late Miner run and a Julian Washburn three at the buzzer put the Orange and Blue ahead 42-35 heading into the locker rooms.
UTEP would continue its run out of the break, scoring nine straight to go ahead 51-35 five minutes into the second half. Mixed into the run, was a second technical foul on Colorado State's Larry Eustachy, who received one at the end of the first half.
It wasn't for not though as the drama was just getting started. The Rams would go on a 27-14 run over the next ten minutes of the game, and would pull to within just three at 65-62 with still nearly five minutes left in the ball game.
The Miners showed great poise though, answering every blow the Rams would throw with one of their own. McKenzie Moore knocked down a couple of clutch baskets down the stretch, and Vince Hunter did as well, continuing an impressive stretch in his young career.
In fact, with just seconds remaining and the Miners up 82-74, Colorado State guard Jon Octeus drove coast to coast and went straight to the rim for what seemed to be a wide open layup. That is, until Hunter came out of nowhere to cleanly swatted Octeus' attempt, sending him falling to ground.
While the win was already in hand, the play lit the crowd up, and ended the game with an exclamation. After the game, Hunter simply said "I couldn't let that go down".
Hunter didn't let it go down, and merely capped off a huge night with that final play. He finished the game with 11 points and 15 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. McKenzie Moore led the team in scoring, finishing the night with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Julian Washburn also had a big night, finishing with 16 points and 7 rebounds. C.J. Cooper had 15 points, and John Bohannon chipped in with his own double double, going for 11 points and 10 boards in just 21 minutes of action.
Coach Floyd had this to say following the game:
"The positive for us tonight was the rebounding margin...Our guys went back and rebounded it well...Vince Hunter, I think you all see why he was ranked the 21st best athlete in the country...What Vince is doing is giving us multiple possessions on the offensive end with his rebounding...McKenzie Moore made some real important plays late...I thought we played with some pretty good poise in a close game late."
The Miners did well to put away a good team in Colorado State Tuesday night. They may be a bit undersized, but they are a team that will compete out of the Mountain West.
For the game, the Miners outrebounded the Rams 53-36, and they won the game despite shooting just 39% from the field. Coach Floyd said:
"You like to win when you're shooting under 40%. It means you're doing other things well, like the offensive boards...It means you're not turning it over. It means you're re rebounding the ball, and it means you're getting to the foul line. And that's what great teams do. We're not there quite yet, but we're working at it."
The win improves the Miners to 3-1 on the season, while dropping Colorado State to 2-2. UTEP will now look forward to Saturday's rematch with New Mexico State at 7:05 p.m. MT in the Don Haskins Center.
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