EL PASO, Texas (AP) — James Woodard scored 19 points and Tim Peete added 13 — 11 after halftime — as second-seeded Tulsa won its tenth straight and bounced No. 3 seed Middle Tennessee 76-69 in a Conference USA semifinal on Friday.
The Golden Hurricane (20-12) advance to Saturday’s title game for the third time, first since 2009, to face Louisiana Tech, which eliminated Southern Miss 88-70 in the other semifinal on Friday.
Tulsa closed the first half on a 14-3 run in the last 6:29, leading 35-29 and never trailing after.
Middle Tennessee (24-9) was often within a basket of taking the lead after halftime, but Woodard and Peete each hit clutch 3-pointers to break open one-point leads. Rashad Smith scored 14.
Neiko Hunter scored six straight points in the final 40 seconds, pulling the Blue Raiders to 72-69, but Woodard and Peete iced the game with four free throws. Hunter led the Raiders with 19 points and 10 boards, Jaqawn Raymond scored 18.