Lee Moore and Earvin Morris each finished with 28 points apiece, and the Miners withstood a furious first half rally by Colorado State to come up with a big 99-90 double overtime win in the championship game of the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic.
It would be the Miners who would get going early, starting 5-8 from the field, including 2-3 from range, while jumping out to an early 16-8 advantage.
That wouldn't last long though. Colorado State dominated the glass in the early going, owning a 17-9 advantage midway through the first that included 9 boards on the offensive end.
That would allow the Rams to chip away at the UTEP lead, eventually taking their first lead of the game at 23-20 on a John Gillon made three with 7:07 left in the first half. And, so the barrage of threes would begin.
Colorado State would hit five triples in the final 7 minutes, and would have 9 in total in the first half, blowing what was a close game into a 47-30 route as the two teams headed into the intermission.
Coach Tim Floyd would make his message short and sweet at the half, only keeping his team in the locker room for about 5 minutes. Whatever was said, it worked.
The Miners came out with a different intensity to start the second twenty minutes, scoring the first 8 points of the frame led by four from Dominic Artis to quickly get the lead down to 9 at 47-38.
About three minutes later, a Trey Touchet made layup would complete a 16-3 run that brought the Miners all the way back to within 4 at 50-46 with still 15 minutes left in the ball game.
The Rams would answer back with an 11-4 spurt, led by 6 from Emmanuel Omogbo that push their lead back into double digits at 61-50 with 8:43 to play. But, the Miners were not done.
They would fire back with a 11-2 run led by Lee Moore to get to within 1 at 62-61. Colorado State would try to hold them off, but just minutes later, a Moore free throw would tie the game at 66 all.
CSU would again grow their lead to five, but again the Miners would answer, this time on a huge three pointer by Earvin Morris with 23 seconds to play. That shot would knot the game, and send the teams to overtime.
Neither team would hold more than a two point lead in the first extra frame, and it would be the Miners who would have the final opportunity to close it out. However, a 16 foot Artis jumper rimmed off, sending the teams to a second overtime.
This time the Miners wouldn't fold. They scored the first four points of the frame, and wouldn't look back from there. They would expand their lead to six in the final 30 seconds, and would cap it off with a Tevin Caldwell and-1 in the closing moments to win by a final of 99-90.
Lee Moore led the way for the Miners with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Earvin Morris finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Hooper Vint had another big night with 13 points and 9 rebounds, and Terry Winn finished with 12 points and 3 boards.
Gian Clavell led the Rams, and all scorers with 35 points and 10 rebounds. Emmanuel Omogbo finished with 15 points and was a monster on the glass with 20 rebounds, and John Gillon finished with 15 points and 6 assists.
The Miners finished shooting 43% from the field, while holding Colorado State to just 32.2%. The Rams did knock in 12-41 threes though, including 9-23 in the first half, while the Miners hit just 4-25. The Miners finished 20-30 from the free throw line, while CSU hit 21-29.
Colorado State owned a huge advantage on the boards, 73-47, including 28-10 on the offensive end. They also had 21 turnovers though, while the Miners committed just 8. The Miners finished with a 23-4 advantage on points off turnovers.
The win improves the Miners to 6-0 for the first time since the 2000-2001 season, and gives them the first out of conference tournament championship (outside of the Sun Bowl Invitational) under Tim Floyd. Earvin Morris was named the tournament MVP after averaging 20 points for the tourney.
The Miners will now return home for a couple of days before heading up the road to take on New Mexico State (4-2) at the Pan American Center on Wednesday. Tipoff in the contest is slated for 7:00 p.m. MT.
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