FRISCO, Texas (KTSM) – No. 25 Middle Tennessee needed big performances from three of its stars, but the Blue Raiders managed to hold off UTEP 68-62 in the Friday’s Conference USA Tournament Semifinals in Frisco.

UTEP (20-11) got 23 points from Elina Arike and 18 from N’Yah Boyd, as they bowed out in the tournament semifinals for the second time in three years. Middle Tennessee (27-4) advanced to Saturday’s tournament title game and is one victory away from punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s very hard against a team like Middle Tennessee to mount a comeback as good as they are and we did and I’m so proud of that,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Baker. “They gave themselves a chance to win the whole time. It’s a resilient group in there and I’m proud to be their coach.”

For the second straight game vs. the Blue Raiders, UTEP dug itself a 15-point deficit, falling behind by a wide margin in the second quarter. From there, the Miners were able to cut the lead to five point at halftime, then got within one point in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, a Jazion Jackson steal turned into a Boyd layup to give the Miners the lead with nine minutes remaining.

However, Middle Tennessee had an answer, as the Blue Raiders built a nine-point lead again with around three minutes to play.

UTEP fought back again and got within two points with less than a minute remaining on an Arike three. However, on the next possession Middle Tennessee’s Courtney Whitson put the nail in the coffin, drilling a huge triple for the Blue Raiders.

The Miners’ season stops for now in the C-USA Tournament Semifinals, but the UTEP coaching staff has felt confident in their chances at making the WNIT, even before they went to Frisco.

The first 20-win season in seven years, coupled with a strong showing vs. No. 25 Middle Tennessee may have secured UTEP’s spot.

The Miners will find out for sure if they’ll be headed to the WNIT next week and if they’ll be able to host the first round of the 64-team tournament.