James Woodard scored 19 points, leading four starters in double figures, as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defeated the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 76-69 in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament.
Rashad Smith was responsible for another 16 points for second-seeded Tulsa (20-12), followed by Tim Peete and Shaquille Harrison with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Leading the way for third-seeded Middle Tennessee (24-9) were Neiko Hunter and Jaqawn Raymond with 19 points apiece, the former also clearing a game-high 10 rebounds during the setback. Kerry Hammonds pitched in with 11 points, even though he shot just 2-of-8 from the floor.
The Blue Raiders led by as many as seven points in the first half, but Tulsa eventually moved out to a 35-29 advantage at the break after shooting 52.2 percent from the floor, as well as 10-of-14 at the free-throw line.
Both teams had trouble finding the basket in the second half, with each converting only 11 field goals, but the Golden Hurricane kept their distance by connecting on 17-of-25 at the charity stripe, en route to the seven-point win.
In addition to being outscored at the free-throw line, 27-19, the Blue Raiders also hurt themselves with 21 turnovers on the day.
With the victory Tulsa will now take on the winner of the Southern Miss/Louisiana Tech meeting in the title game on Saturday for the right to represent C-USA in the NCAA Tournament.