Posted: Mar 15, 2014 2:31 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2014 2:32 PM
EL PASO, Texas (AP) James Woodard scored 27 points to lead Tulsa to a spot in the NCAA tournament with a 69-60 victory Saturday against Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA tournament final.
Woodard, who scored 18 points in the second half, made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to help Tulsa hold off the Bulldogs.
The victory put the Hurricane in the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2003 season. Tulsa (21-12), which was the No. 2 seed, will carry an 11-game win streak into the tournament.
Top-seeded Louisiana Tech came up short, extending an NCAA tournament drought dating to 1991.
The Bulldogs (27-7) were led by Kenneth Smith with 16 points and Kenyon McNeail with 15. Alex Hamilton finished with 12.
The Bulldogs led 35-34 at the half in a game with 16 lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points until Tulsa took control in the final 5 minutes, pushing the advantage to 10 points on a free throw by Woodard with 1:12 left.