EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP guard Tae Hardy nailed a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to give the Miners a 75-72 win over California in the SoCal Challenge Surf Division Semifinals early Tuesday morning.
Hardy’s game-winner from the left wing rolled around the rim and in as time expired, giving UTEP the victory. It came after Hardy missed two free throws with 16 seconds left that would’ve put the Miners in front by five points. Cal’s Jalen Cone tied the game at 72 moments before Hardy won it.
The last game of a quadruple header in the SoCal Challenge, UTEP’s game tipped off after 11 p.m. MT and Hardy’s shot rolled around and in to give UTEP the win well after 1:30 a.m. MT.
“Wins like this, tough, gritty wins, that’s when the belief happens,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding told the radio broadcast after the game.
UTEP’s win over the Golden Bears got the Miners to 5-0 for the first time since 2019-20 and is the first win over a Power-5 team in third-year head coach Joe Golding’s tenure with the Miners. It’s the first win over a Power-5 team by UTEP since the Miners beat Arizona State during the 2020-21 season.
Five players scored in double-figures for the Miners, led by Hardy’s team-high 16 points. Zid Powell and Calvin Solomon each had 13 points for the Miners, Corey Camper Jr. chipped in 11 points and Otis Frazier scored 10 for UTEP.
Cal star Fardaws Aimaq paced the Golden Bears with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but fouled out late in the game and his presence was missed down the stretch. Cone and Jaylon Tyson each had 15 points for the Golden Bears.
With the win, UTEP advances to the SoCal Challenge Championship Game to face Bradley on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network.
The Braves took down Tulane 80-77 in the other semifinal contest. Bradley is ranked No. 81 in the country according to KenPom (UTEP is 137), which makes them the highest-ranked team UTEP has played thus far in 2023-24, per KenPom.
The Miners and Braves played in the championship game of the 2021 Sun Bowl Invitational, with Bradley emerging victorious that night.
“It will be a great game. We had a great game with them in the (2021 Sun Bowl Invitational). We’ll have our guys ready,” Golding said.