Tulsa's NCAA Hopes Squashed by UTEP

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:16 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Mar 11, 2011 6:14 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

EL PASO, Texas – The last remaining hope for an Oklahoma team to make the men’s NCAA tournament has been eliminated.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane dropped a 66-54 contest to UTEP on Friday, ending their hopes of a Conference USA title and tournament bid.

No. 2 seeded Tulsa was the highest remaining seed after top seed UAB lost in the opening game on Thursday.

Though the potential championship game got easier for the Golden Hurricane, their semifinal matchup was certainly a tough one.

The UTEP Miners were the 3-seed in the conference tournament and certainly had a home-court advantage playing in El Paso.

Tulsa started off strong in the first half and led 28-27 at the break.

The Golden Hurricane increased its lead to as many as four on a dunk from Joe Richard three minutes into the second half, but UTEP (25-8) seemed to finally wake up.

At the 14-minute mark, the Miners rattled off an 11-0 run to take a nine-point lead and gain the momentum for the remainder of the game.

UTEP shot a remarkable 56 percent from the field and 56 percent from 3-point range. Despite the fact that the Golden Hurricane hung in there most of the game, they shot just 39 percent overall and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Guard Justin Hurtt led Tulsa with 17 points. Joe Richard added 11 and nine rebounds and Jordan Clarkson had 10 points.

Tulsa finishes out the season 19-13, winning nine of the final 12 contests.