POSTED: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 11:47pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 12:08am
Eight Seniors Honored
UTEP shot 59.6 percent from the floor, including 76.2 percent in the second half, and received 77 points from its seniors on "Senior Night" in snapping Marshall's five-game winning streak with an 82-74 victory on Wednesday at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (22-8, 10-5 C-USA) are tied for second place in the C-USA standings with Tulsa (17-12, 10-5) heading into Saturday's regular season finale at SMU (1 p.m. MT, Time Warner Sports Channel 24). Southern Miss (21-8, 9-6) and Memphis (21-9, 9-6) are tied for fourth place. UTEP can clinch a bye in next week's C-USA Tournament in El Paso with a win over the Mustangs.
UTEP improved to 17-2 at home this season, the most wins for the Miners in the Haskins Center since the 1991-92 campaign that ended with a berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Six Miner seniors etched their names into the scoring column on Wednesday while playing their final regular season game in the venerable facility. Randy Culpepper led the way with 24 points, followed by Claude Britten, Christian Polk & Julyan Stone (12 each), Jeremy Williams (10) and Wayne Portalatin (seven).
Tirrell Baines scored 22 points and DeAndre Kane added 20 for Marshall (20-10, 8-7), which hadn't lost since Feb. 9.
The Herd shot only 38.9 percent but stayed in the game by crushing the Miners on the boards, 47-31, as Baines collected 11 rebounds. Marshall scored 22 second chance points.
UTEP took the lead for good, 12-11, on a Britten jumper with 15:15 remaining in the first half. The Miners were ahead 37-29 at the half and rolled out to three separate 12-point leads in the first three minutes of the second period, the last at 45-33 on Culpepper's layup with 17:17 to play.
A 19-10 run drew Marshall to within three points (55-52) on a Baines layup with 11:53 remaining. It was a four-point game (67-63) at the five-minute mark before the Miners gradually started to pull away. UTEP scored seven of the game's next eight points, capped by a Polk three-pointer that reinstated a 10-point cushion (74-64) with 3:07 to go.
Stone (12 rebounds) and Williams (10) headed up the Miners' rebounding effort. Stone came within three assists of logging his first career triple double, and Culpepper tied his personal best with seven dimes of his own.
UTEP scored a season-high 50 points in the paint.