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Paul Thomas lifts UTEP over Charlotte with last second jumper

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NCAA Basketball: Texas-El Paso at Rice Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP blew a 22-point first half lead, but a Paul Thomas bucket with 2.2 seconds left helped UTEP escape another disastrous loss with in a 87-86 Miner triumphant win Thursday in Charlotte.

The win snaps a six game UTEP losing streak, and improves the Miners to 3-10 in C-USA, giving them the 12th seed in the C-USA Tournament at the moment.

Thomas notched his second straight double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. With 6.6 left, UTEP was down 86-85, Thomas took the inbound pass and after a spin move he knocked down a fade away jumper from inside 15-feet to give Charlotte their 11th straight loss.

The Miners led 29-7 at the 12:21 mark of the first half after five straight points from Evan Gilyard. UTEP started 10-for-13 from the field, and made five in a row from long distance during that early stretch.

Gilyard scored a game and career high 23 points going 9-for-10 at the free throw line.

The lead changed seven times during the game, and Charlotte held a seven point lead after a 3-pointer from Jaylan McGill with just under six minutes left in the second half as UTEP entered the danger zone.

UTEP went on a 8-2 run from there, as a pair of free throws from Matt Willms trimmed the lead to 84-83 with 1:59 left in the game.

The Miners switched to their point-zone defense in the final three minutes holding the 49ers without a field goal in the final three minutes.

One of the biggest plays of the game came after Thomas’ late jumper. Omega Harris poked away the ensuing inbound and Charlotte never got off a prayer to steal a win.

Isiah Osborne had a night, scoring 22 points, knocking down a trio of three pointers, and he also added seven rebounds.

All five of UTEP’s starters scored in double figures. Omega Harris added 11 points, and Willms added 11 points helping UTEP shoot 53.6 percent from the floor in the game.

UTEP went 11-for-20 from long distance in the game, Harris hit all three of his tries from deep, while Kobe Magee and Gilyard each knocked down a pair.

Next up is Old Dominion Saturday in Norfolk.