<
>

UTEP cruises into C-USA semis; UAB awaits

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Jason Williams scored 14 points and had
seven rebounds, while Edgar Moreno added 13 Thursday afternoon to
lead Texas-El Paso to a 66-47 victory over Southern Mississippi in
the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

Miguel Ayala finished with 10 points and four assists for the
Miners (20-8), the tournament's No. 3 seed, who will play UAB in
Friday's semifinal. The Blazers (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) defeated SMU 69-55 in
Thursday afternoon's other game.

Williams connected on 7-of-13 from the field, helping the Miners
shoot 50 percent in the game.

Southern Mississippi (10-21), seeded 11th, earned its way into
the quarterfinals by defeating Tulsa 66-61 in the opening round.

But no Southern Mississippi player finished in double figures
Thursday, as Mildon Ambres led the Golden Eagles with nine points
and nine rebounds. Southern Mississippi connected on 37 percent of
its shots.

UTEP built its lead as the Golden Eagles went almost 10 minutes
without a field goal spanning the two halves. Before Travis Hall
hit a baseline jumper for Southern Mississippi, the Miners had
built the lead to 38-22 in the second half.

The Golden Eagles would get the deficit under double digits only
once the rest of the way, when Hall scored on a drive with 13:42
left to cut the lead to 40-31.

UTEP held a 33-20 lead at the half as Williams scored 10 points
and the Miners shot 52 percent.

Southern Mississippi did not hit a field goal in the final 6:27
of the half, contributing to a 39 percent shooting performance
before the break.