EL PASO, Texas – The North Dakota State Bison defeated the UTEP Miners 63-51 in the championship game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational to take home the hardware on Friday, Dec. 22 in the Don Haskins Center.
NDSU (7-6) used a 19-2 scoring run during the final seven and a half minutes of the game to secure the victory. Guard Paul Smith, who was awarded the Barry Kobren Most Valuable Player Trophy, led all players with 19 points. Sophomore guard Tyson Ward, who was named to the all-tournament team, tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Paul Miller – NDSU – MVP
Tyson Ward – NDSU
RJ Cole – Howard
Devante Cacok – UNCW
Keith Frazier – UTEP
Tirus Smith – UTEP – Don Haskins Award
Consolation Game Recap – Howard vs. UNC Wilmington
Howard University leaned on the backs of freshman RJ Cole and sophomore Charles Williams as they combined for 72 points to boost the Bison to an 80-75 win over UNC Wilmington on Friday night.
Cole produced with a new career-high 42 points, including 32 after intermission. His 42 points set a new freshman record in program history. The New Jersey native shot 59-percent (13-of-22) from the floor, including 5-of-8 from long range. He also added six boards, four dimes, and four steals in the win. Williams tied a season-high 30 points after shooting 11-of-19 from the field, including a perfect 4-of-4 from downtown, in the victory.
Overall, the Bison shot a season-best 50-percent (26-of-52) against the defending Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Champions, including 56-percent (9-of-16) from beyond the arc.
Cole was just four points short of the tournament record for points in a game. Trey Johnson of Jackson State holds the record for points in a game during the Sun Bowl Tournament with 46 versus UTEP in 2006. Cole scored 61 points in the tournament, also just four points shy of the tournament record. Johnson holds that record as well, posting a combined total of 65 points again UTEP and Drake in 2006.
Championship Game Recap – North Dakota State vs. UTEP
NDSU (7-6) trailed UTEP 49-44 with just under eight minutes remaining, but the Bison rattled off a 14-0 run to take a commanding 58-49 advantage with two minutes left. Following buckets by Paul Miller and Spencer Eliason to pull within one, NDSU sophomore Jared Samuelson drained a three to give the Bison a 51-49 lead. A.J. Jacobson capped the 14-0 run with a trey to go ahead nine with 2:02 remaining.
UTEP’s Keith Frazier posted his second double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. He averaged 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in the two Sun Bowl Tourney games. Smith received the tournament’s Don Haskins Award.
UTEP center Paul Thomas added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Miners on Friday.
Up until the stretch run it was an entertaining basketball game. The Miners jumped out to a 19-8 lead. The Bison came roaring back to pull within four (25-21) at halftime. An 8-0 run by North Dakota State in the second half turned a 36-32 deficit into a 40-36 lead. UTEP scored six unanswered to erase a 44-43 deficit and surge into the 49-44 lead, but may have run out of gas at the end while playing its third game in four nights.
The Miners shot 33.3 percent from the field, including 30 percent in the second half, and tallied only five assists.
About the Tournament
In 2009, the tournament was renamed to honor former UTEP head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins. “The Bear” coached at UTEP from 1961 to 1999, winning 719 games and making 14 postseason appearances. Haskins famously led the Miners to victory in the 1966 National Championship game over Adolph Rupp and the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats.
The WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is the oldest holiday basketball tournament in the nation.
+ Sun Bowl +