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UTEP closes out LA Tech down the stretch 74-72

Miner Illustrated

UTEP scored the last six points of the game in the final 1:32 to keep their head above of the muddy last place waters in C-USA with a 74-72 survival of LA Tech.

Four Miners scored in double figures led by a 21 point outing from senior Omega Harris playing in his final home stand as a Miner. He played every single second of the game, going 8-for-13 from the field adding three rebounds and three assists with zero turnovers.

Despite a late second half scoring drought, UTEP played some stellar defense down the stretch, mixed with a few clutch plays that sealed the much needed win.

Things looked bleak early on as UTEP found themselves down 18-11 with 12:33 left until halftime, but Harris got hot and carried UTEP into the half with a lead.

Harris scored 16 first half points going 6-for-8 from the field, scoring UTEP’s final five points of the half as they led 41-39 at the break.

UTEP shot 60.7 percent from the field in the opening half, and continued that strong offensive pace in a tight knit second half.

The lead changed hands six times in the first 12 minutes of the second half as Trey Wade knocked down 3’s on back-to-back possessions to give UTEP a 64-62 lead going into the under eight media timeout of the second half.

From there UTEP fell flat offensively, a theme seen way too often in important stretches this season.

UTEP missed six in a row from the field in the midst of a nearly five minute scoring drought leading to a 7-0 LA Tech run, and a 69-64 Bulldog lead with three minutes left in the game.

The Miners found there way out of the funk with some defensive stops and an Evan Gilyard layup tied the game at 72 with 57 seconds left helped out by a couple of missed LA Tech layups down the stretch via the tightened UTEP defense.

Matt Willms become the fourth Miner to score in double figures with a tip in of a Gilyard miss at a layup, capping off a 10-3 UTEP run to take the lead 74-72 with 25 seconds left.

With 1.8 seconds left, LA Tech had one last chance, but threw the rock away on a baseline in bounds play and UTEP escaped with a 4-11 C-USA record.

Isiah Osborne added 15 points, while Willms and Wade each scored 10 points. UTEP shot 52.7 percent from the floor in the game, and went 6-for-14 from behind the three-point arch. UTEP also shot 10-for-13 from the free throw line.

Harris notched his 14th career 20-point scoring game, and helped UTEP snap a three-game home losing streak.

UTEP out rebounded Tech 32-27 and they also blocked seven shots, four coming from Willms who looked fully healthy and also collected nine boards in the win. The Miners also out scored Tech 32-24 in points in the game.

A Rice loss tonight, gives UTEP a game lead on the Owls for the 12th place spot in the C-USA Tournament heading into the final three games of the season.

Doc Sadler and Southern Miss come into the Don Saturday night.