At times this season, the Miners have had their offensive challenges; Thursday wasn't one of them. Six players scored in double figures for the first time this on the year, and the Miners put up their third highest point total this season en route to a quarterfinal victory in the C-USA tournament.
Early on neither team could gain control. The Miners sprinted out to multiple five point leads in the first half, but each time the did they Cougars responded with a couple buckets of their own. Houston was able to take the lead at 16-15, but that was the last time they would have an advantage.
UTEP was able to knock down its final four field goals, and final four free throws of the first half, and enjoyed a 32-27 lead at the break.
Despite a few buckets by the Cougars early in the second, the Miners were able to extend their lead to 12 about seven minutes in, and would eventually lead by as many as 15. They would hold on to their double digit lead for the majority of the second half, and in the end, won 80-69.
Julian Washburn led the way for the Miners, going for a game high 20 points on 9-16 shooting, while hauling in 5 rebounds. Jacques Streeter finished with a double-double going for 13 points and 12 assists, to go along with 4 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers, and Konner Tucker (12), McKenzie Moore (11), Cedrick Lang (10), and C.J. Cooper (10) all put up solid efforts, each scoring in double figures.
The Cougars were led by TaShawn Thomas who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Danuel House had 12 points and 2 rebounds, and J.J. Thomas finished with 11 points, a rebound, an assist, and a steal.
The Miners shot a solid 51% from the field, while holding Houston to 41.8%. The Cougars did have a 36-27 rebounding advantage, and committed two less turnovers than the Miners, but shot just 2-11 from three point land, and also committed 26 fouls to just 15 for the Miners.
The loss drops Houston to 19-12 on the season, and they will now have to wait and see whether or not any post season tournaments will come calling for their services. The Miners, improve to 18-13 on the year, and stay alive in the Conference USA rac. They now advance to the semifinals tomorrow, and will take on Southern Miss at 2:00 p.m. MT.
That game will be carried live by CBS Sports Network, and as always stay tuned to MinerRush for all pre, during, and post game coverage.