North Dakota State went on a game clinching 14-0 run in the final five minutes of the game to beat UTEP 63-51 in the championship game of the West Star Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
Paul Miller, the tournament MVP, scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, coming alive for the Bison after some first half offensive struggles.
The Bison manhandled UTEP on the boards 50-30 and in the final 7:35 of the game they went on a 19-2 run to seal the W. UTEP also finished on a 1-for-12 stretch from the field in the closing moments of the game.
Both teams started slow on the offensive end, but then UTEP hit four 3-pointers in an early sequence to get them going which gave them a commanding lead early on.
UTEP trailed 5-1 early, but a 18-3 run capped off by 3-pointers from Keith Frazier, then Kobe Magee, followed up by a two point jumper from Evan Gilyard made it 19-8 Miners at the under eight minute timeout of first half.
The Miners led 21-13 at the 5:42 mark of the first half, but went on a four minute scoring drought as the Bison trimmed the lead to 21-17.
Paul Thomas scored UTEP’s last four points of the half, while the Bison shot 25 percent from the field, but UTEP held a slim 25-21 lead at the break.
UTEP shot 37 percent from the field in the opening half, and missed their last five attempts from long distance as UTEP’s offensive consistency fell off in the final five minutes of the first half.
NDSU outscored UTEP 6-2 in opening minutes of the second half to take their first lead of the game, but Frazier hit a three pointer on consecutive possession to grab a 33-29 lead for the Miners at the 16:38 mark of the second half.
The Bison were +11 on the boards with a 7-2 advantage in second chance points when they rolled off a 7-0 run to take a 39-36 lead with 13:19 left in the game.
UTEP would then go on a 13-5 run fueled by Frazier as his two point jumper from the top of the key gave UTEP a 49-44 lead, but the Bison had a major answer.
Another 7-0 NDSU run gave them a 51-49 lead after a 3-pointer from Jared Samuelson at the 6:18 mark changed the lead for an eighth time in the game.
The Miners would go the next six minutes plus without scoring as NDSU extended their run to 14-0, and their lead to 58-49 with under two minutes left after a dagger 3-pointer from A.J. Jacobson.
UTEP shot 33.3 percent from the field in the end, and went 6-for-11 from the free throw line. Frazier finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Paul Thomas ended the night with 12 points as the only Miners to reach double figures.
In the end, a 13-4 edge in second chance points in favor of the Bison ended up being a major difference in the game.
After going 1-for-10 in the first half from behind the 3-point line, NDSU went 5-for-10 in the second half.
C-USA play starts next Thursday for UTEP.