Miners Win In Triple Overtime
– Konner Tucker scored nine of his 12 points in overtime and hit a big three pointer with 13 seconds left as UTEP upset Oregon in triple OT, 91-84, on Wednesday at the Don Haskins Center.
Tucker, who missed a potential game-winning three in a 62-60 loss to no. 21 UNLV on Monday, gained some redemption against the Ducks. His triple shot the Miners into an 89-84 lead and, following a missed three by Oregon’s Dominic Artis, he closed it out with free throws.
He finished 9-for-9 from the line, including 6-for-6 in the overtime sessions, with the one field goal.
Oregon (9-2), the top team in the “others receiving votes” section of this week’s Associated Press top-25 poll, had its four-game winning streak snapped.
“It was a really exciting game from a fan’s standpoint,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “The fans have been awesome all year. The people that weren’t there tonight missed a tremendous game, and the people that weren’t there on Monday night missed an incredible game.
“We’re playing these quality teams, and the idea is you’re either going to get better or you’re going to wilt and learn how to lose. We didn’t do that tonight.”
UTEP (4-5) received a career-high 23 points from Julian Washburn and a double-double (21 points/10 rebounds) from John Bohannon while improving to 3-1 on a season-long seven-game homestand.
The game featured 17 ties and 16 lead changes. There were nine lead changes in overtime. UTEP played only the fourth triple-overtime game in school history (2-2 record), the second in the Haskins Center and the first in El Paso since Feb. 28, 1998 against BYU.
UTEP led for most of the first 30 minutes. Oregon took its first lead since 9-7 on a jumper by Damyean Dotson with 10:15 to go in regulation. That put the Ducks ahead 43-41.
UTEP forced overtime when Bohannon made one of two free throws with three seconds left to tie the score at 62. Artist missed a three at the buzzer.
Neither team led by more than two points in the first overtime. Tony Woods made one of two foul shots with 24 seconds remaining to knot the game at 68 before Washburn misfired on a three-point attempt.
Oregon scored the first four points in the second overtime to bolt to a 72-68 lead, but the Miners rallied to tie it at 75 on a jumper by Washburn with 49 seconds on the clock. The Ducks had two shots to win it in the second overtime but Artis and Arsalan Kazemi both missed three pointers in the final seconds.
Bohannon’s three pointer – the second in two games for the UTEP big man – propelled UTEP to an 84-80 lead with 2:18 to go in the third overtime. Following a made free throw by Woods, Jacques Streeter pushed the Miners’ lead to 86-81 with two foul shots. Johnathan Loyd buried a three pointer to pull Oregon within two (86-84) with 1:16 to play before Tucker came through in the clutch.
Cedrick Lang scored 14 points, and Streeter matched Tucker with 12 as UTEP placed five players in double-figure scoring for the first time this season.
“Cedrick Lang was at his best tonight,” Floyd said. “Bohannon was at his best and Julian was certainly at his best. I loved the fact that Julian played as many minutes as he did  with only one turnover. He made far too many mistakes for a guy with his level of talent early in the season. He needed a game like this and I think it’s going to really help him.”
Dotson led Oregon with 20 points, and Carlos Emory scored 18 off the bench. Kazemi (13 points/16 rebounds) and E.J. Singler (10 rebounds) both had double-digit boards.
UTEP made 8-of-13 shots in the overtime periods, raising its field goal percentage to .492. The Miners were outrebounded 49-44 but compensated by making 30 free throws – 16 more than the Ducks. UTEP shot 41 foul shots, and Oregon finished 14-for-27 at the stripe.
Floyd stopped short of calling it a signature win.
“I don’t know about that. I don’t know what that means,” he said. “I know that a young team playing a quality team needs to believe that they can [win]. Because let’s face it, every game we have played has been right down to the wire. We’re not just beating people by 18, 20 or 22 [points]. We won a close game against Idaho, which was important. We won a close game against New Mexico State, which was really critical. I think this win was very important for us. And we need to try to win this darn tournament and play back-to-back games spirited without distractions.”
The Miners will participate in the 51st annual Weststar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 22-23) in the Haskins Center. Saturday matchups are Central Michigan versus Nebraska at 5 p.m. and UTEP versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 7 p.m.