UTEP wins a grinder in OT, 54-52 over Tulane
John Bohannon scored all five of his points in overtime, as UTEP slipped past Tulane, 54-52, on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (12-13, 5-6 C-USA) rallied from a seven-point deficit with under 10 minutes to play in regulation to even the season series with the Green Wave (15-9, 3-7 C-USA).
"We played a team that is giving up fewer points than anybody in our league with the best defensive field goal percentage," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "Our biggest fear going in was how we were going to score. To our guys' credit, it was very difficult for us all night long on the offensive end but it did not influence us on the defensive end. It was important that we were able to win given our hardships in our last three close games. Maybe that will help our psyche a little bit."
Bohannon, UTEP's leading scorer in C-USA games with a 15.4-point average coming in, missed all four of his field goal attempts and only free throw try in 27 regulation minutes. But he came alive in the extra period, tallying five of the Miners' six points.
UTEP was held to one point in the first four minutes of overtime, a free throw by Michael Perez with 3:32 to go that cut a 50-48 Tulane lead down to 50-49. Bohannon's first field goal, a dunk off an assist by Jacques Streeter, put the Miners ahead 51-50 with 54 seconds to play. After Ricky Tarrant buried a couple of foul shots to put the Green Wave ahead 52-51, Bohannon converted a three-point play with 14 seconds left for the final margin.
Tulane's Jordan Callahan missed a three-pointer with three seconds left. He scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half.
Tarrant, the front-runner for Conference USA Freshman of the Year, was held scoreless under heavy defensive pressure from UTEP's Julian Washburn in the first half. But Washburn played just six minutes in the second period before fouling out and Tarrant took advantage, scoring 19 points after the break.
"We didn't quite have an answer for Tarrant [in the second half]," Floyd said. "But behind him I thought our guys really tried to provide help and we did a great job defensively. Our mantra that we have been preaching all year long is we'll know that we've become a good team when we can go out and shoot 36 or 37 percent and win. We decided to take that degree of challenge further by shooting 50 percent [14-for-28] from the foul line. The fact that we could shoot a poor percentage both from the foul line and the field means that we did other things, like rebound. We had nine offensive boards."
Perez was the only Miner in double figures with 15 points. UTEP struggled to score against a Green Wave defense yielding 58.1 points per game. The Miners shot 34.6 percent, including 27.3 percent in the first half.
The Miners led 23-22 at the intermission in spite of their offensive futility. But Tulane turned a 32-28 deficit into a 39-32 lead with an 11-0 run midway through the second half.
UTEP continued to peck away, knotting the game at 48 on a layup by Streeter with 1:20 remaining. Tulane, which has lost 12 straight C-USA road games, had a couple of opportunities to win the game in the final minute, but Callahan and Tarrant both missed jumpers.
The Miners will begin a stretch of three straight games versus C-USA's premier teams next Saturday at Memphis (11 a.m. MT). The game will be televised on Fox Sports Network. UTEP will host Southern Miss on Wednesday, Feb. 22, and play at UCF on Saturday, Feb. 25.