MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Forwards Alandise Harris and TaShawn Thomas each posted double-doubles, but it would not be quite enough as No. 8 seed UTEP took a 67-62 win in overtime against the University of Houston men's basketball team during the Conference USA Championship First Round in FedExForum.
Harris led all players with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting with 12 rebounds to post a career high in the former category. It was the fourth 20-point game of his career and bested his previous high of 21 points, set in games against Oakland and LSU earlier this season.
Thomas finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his team-leading ninth double-double of the season. The Killeen, Texas, native leads all C-USA freshmen with that total and ranks fifth overall in the league.
With the score tied at 38-38 midway through the second half, the Cougars, who entered the Championship as the No. 9 seed, used an 8-0 run during a 2-minute stretch and grabbed a 46-38 lead when Harris buried one of his two 3-pointers.
UTEP chipped away at that lead to set the stage for some dramatics late in regulation. With just one minute remaining, Jacques Streeter knotted the game at 56-56. The Cougars worked the game clock down and took a 58-56 lead when Harris drained a baseline jumper with just 39 seconds to go.
Following a UTEP timeout, Gabriel McCulley drove to the basket and dished it to John Bohannon, who converted the layup and tied the game again at 58-58 with 19 seconds remaining.
With the shot clock off, the Cougars played for the last shot, but Harris' attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim and sent the Cougars to their third overtime game of the season. Ironically, the Cougars' last contest in extra time was an 81-76 win against the Miners on Jan. 28 inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
In overtime, Michael Perez gave the Miners a 60-58 lead just more than one minute into the period. However, Thomas rebounded a missed shot late in the shot clock and laid it back up and in on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 60-60 with 3:11 left.
Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Cougars would get the rest of the way, thanks in part to a fluky play. On UTEP's next possession, Julian Washburn went up for the dunk. His attempt bounced hard off the rim but right into the hands of McCulley in the corner, who nailed a 3-pointer for a lead UTEP would never give up.
Bohannon converted a layup after a missed Cougar 3-pointer late in the shot clock, and the Miners took advantage of single free throws from McCulley and Perez.
Houston redshirt freshman guard Joseph Young - who recently joined Thomas on the C-USA All-Freshman Team - converted an offensive putback with seven seconds remaining for the final margin of victory.
The Cougars struggled shooting throughout the night, hitting only 38.2 percent of their 68 shots from the field and just 6-of-15 attempts from the free throw line.
Young and junior guard Jonathon Simmons finished with 10 points apiece with Simmons adding game-high five assists in the loss.
McCulley posted 18 points with eight rebounds to lead UTEP in both categories, while Bohannon added 16 points. Perez totaled 14 points, and Washburn recorded 10 points with five rebounds for the Miners.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 15-15 overall, while UTEP improved to 15-16 overall.
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