Scores

Final

Boise State 78

(16-18, 6-12 WAC)

UTEP 91

(27-7, 14-4 WAC)

9:00 PM ET, March 12, 2005

Lawlor Events Center, Reno, Nevada

1 2 T
BSU 31 4778
UTEP 41 5091

Top Performers

Boise State: C. Karl 24 Pts, 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

UTEP: F. Rivera 32 Pts, 4 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl

Miners take WAC tournament title

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Texas-El Paso got off the NCAA bubble.

Filiberto Rivera scored 17 of his 32 points in the last 6 minutes to help the Miners earn an NCAA berth with a 91-78 victory over Boise State on Saturday night in the championship of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

"We know we're dancing now," said Rivera, the tourney MVP who had eight assists and made 11 of 12 free throws -- going 8-for-8 in the final 2:15.

John Tofi added 21 points, Omar Thomas had 15 and Giovanni St. Amant 13 for the second-seeded Miners (27-7), who shot 67 percent from the field in the second half to claim their seventh win in a row.

"We knew if we got our job done, there would be no ifs," Tofi said.

Coby Karl had 24 points, and Jason Ellis added 16 for the eighth-seeded Broncos (16-18), who upset top-seeded Nevada and Fresno State to become the lowest seed ever to advance to the WAC title game.

"They just outplayed us," Ellis said.

The Miners are 21-0 when scoring 70 or more this season. Their 27 wins are the most since they went 27-7 and reached the final 16 in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.

Coach Don Sadler believed they deserved an NCAA berth even if they didn't win the postseason title after finishing second in the league behind regular-season champ and 24th-ranked Nevada.

"If what they say is true, they would take the 65 best teams and we were one of them. We had faith in them (the selection committee)," Sadler said. "But believe me, I'm glad we are not particularly worried now."

The Broncos hit five of their first seven from the field, but only five of their next 21 and had six turnovers in the first 13 minutes of the game. They finished with 15 turnovers to UTEP's seven.

"It hurts, but I'm proud that we got this far," said Ellis, who became the 16th Bronco in school history to top 1,000 career points.

Boise State coach Greg Graham said he expects UTEP to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

"Whoever they get in the tournament, they can matchup with," Graham said. "Their biggest plus is they can play any style. They can play fast or in the half court. They always take care of the ball and they can score from any position," he said.

UTEP led 41-31 at the half and opened a 61-41 lead when Tofi was fouled on a basket inside and converted a 3-point play to cap an 11-2 run with 12:34 left.

Boise State followed with 10 straight points, including six free throws from Karl, to pull to 61-51 with 9 minutes remaining.

"We felt magic with 6 to 9 minutes to go," said Karl, son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl.

But St. Amant hit from behind the arc, and Miguel Ayala connected from 19 feet to help push UTEP's lead to 68-53 with 7:20 left.

Ellis scored nine in a row and Karl hit a 3 to cut it to 76-67 at 3:59. But Thomas made two free throws and Rivera hit a 3 for an 81-67 lead with 2:43 left.

Rivera made all eight free throw attempts and St. Amant hit both of his down the stretch to seal the win. Rivera was 9-of-16 from the field, including three 3s.

"Fili doesn't score unless we need him to score," Sadler said. "He's the best there is. ... It's no secret. El Paso knows it and the league knows it. Now the rest of the country is going to find out just how good Fili is."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
BSU
UTEP
Points 78 91
FG Made-Attempted 24-53 (.453) 31-65 (.477)
3P Made-Attempted 6-21 (.286) 7-20 (.350)
FT Made-Attempted 24-27 (.889) 22-28 (.786)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
Largest Lead 2 21

2004-05 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
Jan 1, 2005 UTEP 91, @BSU 77Recap
Mar 5, 2005 @UTEP 78, BSU 64Recap
» Mar 12, 2005 @UTEP 91, BSU 78Recap