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UTEP Miners hoist the Championship Trophy - 62ND WESTSTAR DON HASKINS SUN BOWL INVITATIONAL December 22, 2023

UTEP Miners hoist the Championship Trophy - 62ND WESTSTAR DON HASKINS SUN BOWL INVITATIONAL

EL PASO, Texas – The UTEP Miners took home the Championship Trophy for the 62nd Annual WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational after defeating the Wyoming Cowboys 78-67 in the Don Haskins Center on Thursday, Dec. 23. The Norfolk State Spartans won the Consolation Game, beating the South Dakota State Jackrabbits 84-65.

This marks the 33rd time that the Miners have won the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational title.

62nd WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational All-Tournament Team
Allen Bertrand – Norfolk State
Kalen Gray – South Dakota State
Mason Walters – Wyoming
Otis Frazier IIIUTEP
Tae Hardy – UTEP – Don Haskins Award
Zid Powell – UTEP – Barry Kobren MVP

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME RECAP (courtesy of UTEP Athletics Media Relations)
Zid Powell poured in a career-high 32 points (24 in second half) while Otis Frazier III (15 points, all in second half) and Tae Hardy (14 points) also hit doubles figures in scoring to help lead UTEP to a 78-67 victory against Wyoming in the championship contest of the 62nd-annual WestStar Don Haskins Center Sun Bowl Invitational Thursday.

Powell was named the Barry Kobren MVP while Hardy was voted as the Don Haskins Award Winner and Frazier III was tabbed to the All-Tournament team after helping the Miners (8-5) win the invitational for the first time since 2019. Furthermore, Hardy surpassed 1,000 career points with a 3-pointer early in the first half, and head coach Joe Golding picked up his 200th career victory.

The Orange and Blue were down, 26-25, at the break before erupting for 53 points over the final 20 minutes to roar past the Cowboys. It marked the Miners’ first triumph when trailing going into the locker room since toppling Rice on Feb. 5, 2022. Additionally, Powell is the initial UTEP player to reach the 30-point plateau since Souley Boum also had 32 against Marshall on Feb. 13, 2022.

UTEP drilled 48.0 percent (24-50) form the floor, took care of business at the charity stripe (26-35, 74.3 percent) and committed only 12 turnovers.

Even more important, though, was the Miners’ play at the other end of the court. UTEP limited the nation’s top 3-point shooting team to just 5-22 (22.7 percent) from distance. The Cowboys entered the contest at 43.4 percent. The Orange and Blue forced 16 giveaways that led to 22 points and had advantages in fastbreak scoring (20-11) and points in the paint (28-20).

Powell’s relentless drive to the hoop resulted in him going 14-18 at the line, both of which set career bests. Frazier III also had a career night with his shooting, nailing a personal-best three 3-pointers on a career-most five attempts. He had back-to-back triples to help get UTEP off to a quick start in the second stanza.

The Miners led for 25 minutes, including the final 14 minutes of the contest.

Eight different players scored for the Orange and Blue, including four each from Corey Camper Jr., Baylor Hebb and Jon Dos Anjos as UTEP played through a multitude of foul problems.

CONSOLATION GAME RECAP (Courtesy of Norfolk State Athletics Media Relations)
The Norfolk State men’s basketball team bounced back emphatically from an opening round loss of the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, putting together two triumphant halves against South Dakota State for an 84-65 victory on Thursday evening.

Getting his first career start, Jack Doumbia led NSU (9-6) with a career-high 17 points, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor and making both of his 3-point attempts. The team spread the wealth on Thursday, with four Spartans scoring in double figures: Doumbia, George Beale Jr. (14), Allen Betrand (13), and Jamarii Thomas (13).

While Norfolk State started slow the previous night, it got going straight from the tip on Thursday. Doumbia knocked down a 3-pointer on the team’s opening possession, getting the game started in perfect fashion.

Tyrel Bladen took advantage of a South Dakota State turnover, slamming down a Jaylani Darden pass at the other end. Bladen would hustle for a second-chance basket soon after, before Darden drained a 3-pointer to put the Spartans ahead 10-6.

Coming off the bench, Betrand built quickly on his strong start to the tournament from Wednesday, making a 3-pointer and mid-range jumper in quick succession. The Jackrabbits tied the game 17-17 with a couple of successful possessions, but inside scores from Doumbia and Christian Ings put the Spartans back in front.

A 6-0 run thrust South Dakota State ahead, before NSU’s Beale and SDSU’s Zeke Mayo traded 3-pointers. The sequence gave South Dakota State a 26-24 advantage.

Thomas took over from there. The Greensboro, N.C. native began converting every tough shot he took, scoring 11 of the Spartans’ next 13 points. Daryl Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer to end the half, sending NSU to the break with a 40-32 lead.

South Dakota State scored the first five points of the second half, cutting the deficit to three, but the Spartans had no plans to allow a comeback. Thomas finished through contact for NSU’s first points of the period, sparking a 10-3 run that built the lead up to double digits.

Anderson drained another 3-pointer, before it was Beale’s turn to catch fire. The Suffolk product made three shots from behind the arc, as well as a midrange pull up jumper, within a span of two minutes.

The hot stretch sprung the Norfolk State bench on its feet in celebration and gave the Spartans a 68-48 advantage. Betrand followed up his own miss for a putback layup, extending the NSU cushion.

An 8-0 run from the Jackrabbits chipped away at Norfolk State’s advantage, but the victory never came into jeopardy. Doumbia knocked down another shot from behind the arc, then converted impressive layups with contact on back-to-back possessions to finish off the Spartans final win of the 2023 calendar year in style.


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