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With bizarre finish, ODU beats UTEP, clinches 3rd place in C-USA

EL PASO, Texas - With a thrilling victory at UTEP, Old Dominion clinches the third seed in next week's Conference USA men's basketball tournament.

ODU vs UTEP

ODU vs UTEP

The Monarchs (19-10 overall, 12-5 in C-USA) led by as many as 11 points in the second half before the Miners went on top in the final minute in front of 8,663 fans at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. After Zoran Talley sank a pair of free throws to put ODU ahead 62-61, UTEP's Matt Willms appeared to win the game on a tip-in at the buzzer.

While replays appeared to show the ball was out of Willms' hand before time ran out, officials ruled the clock operator failed to start the clock on time. Therefore, the basket was waved-off, giving ODU the victory - it's fifth in a row.

“This was a big win for us,” said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. “We knew this would be a tough game. UTEP is a very good team. We had just enough to pull this out. UTEP had a great crowd and this was an awesome college basketball game. This is one of those games that it is unfortunate one of the teams has to lose. We are thrilled with the win.”

B.J. Stith, who scored 12 points, joined Talley (17 points) as the only Monarchs in double figures. Denzell Taylor grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to go along with six points and two steals. The Monarchs’ bench outscored the Miners’, 32-16.

The three-seed in the Conference USA tournament comes with a first round bye. ODU finishes the regular season Saturday at Texas-San Antonio.