Wyoming earned a semifinal berth against 8th-ranked Utah by scrambling to a 71-67 win over Texas-El Paso Thursday night in the Western Athletic Tournament.
The Cowboys (19-10) squeaked by UTEP (16-13) thanks to two free throws by Brian Rewers. Those points put Wyoming up 69-64 with 17 seconds left and put the game out of the Miners' reach."It does so much for our mental health," coach Benny Dees said. "We have lost every close game like this during our last stretch, but we went out and got this one. We had a few moments there where we could have folded up the tents, but as they say on the farm, we didn't let our milk down."
In tonight's other semifinal game, BYU (18-12) meets Hawaii (16-12).
Hawaii qualified for the game by bursting New Mexico's post-season bubble during quarterfinal play Thursday.
While the Lobos have been annual invitees to the National Invitation Tournament since 1984, coach Dave Bliss hoped a strong showing in the WAC tournament would earn his team a berth in the "big show."
After losing to Hawaii 68-67, Bliss said New Mexico had eliminated itself from consideration for one of those bids.
"I've said all along that we needed to win the WAC tournament, and we weren't able to do that," he said.
Hawaii's Ray Reed saw to it personally that New Mexico would suffer an early exit from the tournament.
While violations of team rules kept Reed out of the starting lineup, he entered the game early and led all players with 22 points.