From staff and wire reports
GREENVILLE, NC Jan. 26, 2013 – John Bohannon scored 23 points and McKenzie Moore sank a 3-pointer as time expired to help UTEP edge East Carolina 68-67 Saturday in Conference USA play.
“It was a heck of a basketball game and heartbreaking loss for us,” ECU Head Coach Jeff Lebo said. “You kind of feel like you have it and then getting it taken away from you like that is tough.
“We’ve had some emotional and exciting wins here and I thought we might be able to pull off another one here in this game. Give them credit they made the play at the end, a 35-footer at the buzzer.”
UTEP (11-7, 4-1) trailed the entire second half but tied the game five times before McKenzie hit a jumper to knot it 65-all with 19 seconds showing.
East Carolina (12-7, 3-3) regained the lead, 67-65, on a Miguel Paul driving layup with 4.4 seconds left.
UTEP’s Jacques Streeter took the ensuing inbounds pass, dished it off to McKenzie, who managed three dribbles before pulling up midway between the 3-point arc and half-court line for the game-winner.
“We told Jacques we wanted him to try and go lay it up at the rim if he could, but if contained McKenzie would be trailing,” UTEP Head Coach Tim Floyd said. “I didn’t know he was going to try and shoot it from the half-court line, that wasn’t the idea, we were trying to get it to him at the top of the key.”
The Pirates trailed for a grand total of 53 seconds and were either ahead or tied the entire second half until the final buzzer sounded.
Ty Armstrong put ECU 38-36 3:30 into the second half and the Pirates held onto the lead for nearly 14 minutes before Bohannon made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 61.
Bohannon made two more free throws before McKenzie tied the game for the final time.
Bohannon, a 58.7 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, sank 11-of-14 from the foul line.
Despite shooting just 9-of-27 in the first half, ECU led by two at halftime, 30-28.
The Pirates raced out to a 16-7 lead in the first 8:37, making 5-of-8 field goals. They finished the half 4-of-19 shooting, but converted 10-of-11 free throws to hold on to the lead.
ECU finished 20-of-21 from the free throw line.
Senior Miguel Paul led ECU with 20 points, while Armstrong scored 13 and Kemp added 10.
Prior to the final basket of the game, UTEP led just twice, 2-0 and 25-24.