CORVALLIS, ORE. - UTEP nearly overcame a 21-point deficit, but Oregon State made the plays down the stretch in holding off UTEP, 75-69, in game one of the CBI Championship Series on Monday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
The Miners (22-13) will host game two of the series on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Mountain time, and game three if necessary on Friday at 8 p.m. A total of 8,000 tickets have been issued for Wednesday's game two at the Don Haskins Center.
The Beavers (17-17) led wire-to-wire, but had to sweat it out in the final minutes. UTEP whittled a 52-31 Oregon State lead down to three (66-63) on an Arnett Moultrie dunk with 1:14 remaining. But the Beavers strung together the next four points -- all on free throws -- to quell the rally.
Randy Culpepper led UTEP with 20 points, and Stefon Jackson added 17. But the Miners' top two scorers were a combined 13-for-38 from the field. The Beavers, meanwhile, shot 60.5 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from three-point range, both season highs by a UTEP opponent.
UTEP also shot only nine free throws after entering the game leading the nation in free throws made (687) and attempted (949). The Miners' previous season-low for free throw attempts was 16 on two occasions.
UTEP trailed 22-9 eight minutes into the game, but closed the gap to six points (35-29) at the half. Oregon State blew the game open by scoring the first 12 points of the second period.