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UTEP Comes up Short of Wooden Legacy Title in 68-65 Loss to Washington

It was a sloppy performance from the start, and despite holding multiple leads in the second half, the Miners were unable to hold off the Washington Huskies and fell 68-65 in the championship game of the Wooden Legacy Tournament.

Gary A.Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Vince Hunter knotched his 5th double-double through the first five games of the season, but it wasn't enough to carry the Miners to a title in the 2014 Wooden Legacy Tournament.

It was sloppy on the Miners' end in the early going, committing turnovers on four of their first five possessions. Washington was quick to take advantage of those mistakes and jumped out to an early 10-4 lead just four minutes into the ball game.

The Miners would continue to struggle, and the Huskies would only heat up from there as they would hit 10 of their first 17 shots for a sizzling 59% that led to a 25-15 lead with still 8:08 left in the first half.

Washington would eventually extend that lead to as many as 13 at 30-17 before the Miners could finally gain any type of rhythm. UTEP would end the half on a 9-3 run that would cut the lead to seven at 33-26 heading into the locker rooms.

Julian Washburn would lead a quick 12-6 run out of the break that cut the Huskies' lead to one at 39-38 with 14:33 to play, and the Miners would take their first lead of the game moments later on a Vince Hunter dunk that put them up 43-41.

The Huskies would respond with an 11-2 run capped by a Nigel Williams jumper that put them ahead 52-45 with 8:33 to play, but things were just beginning to heat up.

UTEP would answer with a 10-0 run over the next 2:43 to go ahead 55-52, but Washington just wouldn't go away. The Miners would fend them off for the next five minutes, but a bit of a cold streak heading into the final minutes allowed UW to take back the lead, and the Miners wouldn't be able to get it back.

Washington made six straight free throws in the final 48 seconds of the game, and UTEP would simply be unable to get the ball to fall in the basket, eventually going down by a final score of 68-65.

Vince Hunter led the way for the Miners with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Julian Washburn finally had a breakout game, going for 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, and Cedrick Lang was solid as usual with 14 points and 4 rebounds. No other Miner scored in double figures.

The Huskies were led by Andrew Andrews who finished with 20 points on 6-12 shooting, including 4-7 from three point range. Nigel Williams-Goss finished with 16 points and 6 assists, and Jernard Jarreau chipped in with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Both teams ended with very similar numbers. UTEP shot 42.3% from the field, while Washington shot 42.9%. Both team finished with 34 rebounds and shot just over 70% from the foul line, but the Miners shot just 13.3% from three, while Washington shot 50%.

Turnovers also played a huge role in the game. Both teams were sloppy with the rock as UTEP turned it over 15 times, while the Huskies turned over 12 times, with the huge difference coming in Washington's 26 points off turnovers to just 8 for the Miners.

It was a tough loss for the Miners to take. Perhaps, simply taking better care of the ball would have resulted in a win and Wooden Legacy Championship, but in the end simply finding the shots and taking care of a late four point lead would've done it as well.

Overall, it was an outstanding performance by the Miners throughout the Wooden Tournament. They showed great poise and resilience, and showed their ability to not only compete, but to win against very good competition on a neutral court.

The loss drops the Miners to 4-1 on the young season, and leads into a pair of tough road matchups in the coming days. The Miners will play at Colorado State on Wednesday, and then at New Mexico State on Saturday. The Rams currently sit at 6-0.

Tipoff for the game at Colorado State is slated for 7:00 p.m. MT. There is no television coverage for the game.

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