UTEP uses first-half run to knock off Rice in C-USA tourney
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Dominic Artis scored 20 of his season-high 26 points, and UTEP scored 20 of the last 25, in the first half before holding off Rice for an 86-76 win in the Conference USA Tournament on Thursday.
Artis also had 10 rebounds and six assists and Omega Harris added 21 points for fourth-seeded UTEP (15-16), which will face No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee in the semifinals Friday.
Matt Willms scored six points and Artis hit a 3 during a 9-0 run to open the game and the Miners never trailed. Egor Koulechov hit two free throws to pull Rice (22-11) within five with 6:25 left in the half, but the Owls missed nine of their last 10 first-half shots as UTEP took a 49-29 lead into the break.
Marcus Evans scored 10 points in row — including a 4-point play — for Rice to trim its deficit to 72-63 with 4:33 to play, but the Owls would get no closer.
Evans finished with 21 points and Connor Cashaw added 17 with seven rebounds and a career-high six assists for fifth-seeded Rice.