ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Randy Culpepper had 20 points before fouling out and UTEP handed St. Mary's its first loss of the season Thursday with a 75-62 victory in the first round of the 76 Classic.
The more athletic Miners built on their 40-27 halftime lead with a 10-0 run to open the second half for their largest advantage.
St. Mary's responded by scoring 11 straight points to make it 50-38, but never threatened UTEP again. Gaels' center Omar Samhan had eight points during that run and led St. Mary's (3-1) with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Senior guard Stefon Jackson, UTEP's second all-time leading scorer, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Arnett Moultrie added 15 points and Kareem Cooper had 12 points for UTEP (3-1).
St. Mary's guard Patrick Mills, the West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year last season, made just 5-of-20 field goals and missed all six 3-point attempts for 16 points.
He made two free throws with 2:19 remaining to cap a 7-2 run to pull the Gaels as close as 68-60.
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