POSTED: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 - 10:18pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 - 10:59pm
Wes Eikmeier made 7-of-8 shots and scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half as Colorado State knocked off UTEP, 56-53, on day one of the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Wednesday at the Don Haskins Center.
The loss sends UTEP (6-7) into the tournament's consolation game against either Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Jacksonville State on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Eikmeier was 5-for-5 from the field over the last 20 minutes, helping Colorado State (8-4) shoot 57.9 percent in the final 20 minutes. The Rams made 11-of-14 free throws and outrebounded the Miners 27-24.
Colorado State made 21-of-42 shots overall, becoming just the second team - and the first since the season opener - to shoot 50 percent against the Miners this season.
After bolting to a 12-6 lead in the early-going, the Miners managed just 41 points in the final 30 minutes and nine seconds. UTEP shot 43.6 percent on the night and was 3-for-7 from the line in the second half. The Miners were outscored 24-12 in the paint and turned over the ball 15 times.
The Rams did a nice job containing UTEP's leading scorer Michael Perez, who shot 2-for-9 from the field for 10 points.
Gabe McCulley led the Miners with 13 points, and C.J. Cooper added 11.
Will Bell collected 12 points for Colorado State, and Pierce Hornung contributed eight points, eight rebounds and three steals off the bench.
UTEP led 29-27 at the half. Colorado State took the lead for good on a jumper by Eikmeier with 5:18 to play, breaking a 49-49 tie. Eikmeier scored seven of the Rams' last nine points.
Trailing by six points (56-50) with two minutes to go, the Miners had a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. Cooper drained a three with 39 seconds left to cut the deficit in half, but missed another from well past the arc with two seconds left after UTEP got a defensive stop.