Junior Julian Sensley notched his 11th career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Bobby Nash came off the bench to score 10 points and drained a pair of clutch 3-pointers which narrowed UH's deficit to eight entering the half.
Thomas and point guard Filiberto Rivera led UTEP (15-3, 5-1) with 18 points each. Thomas also grabbed 15 rebounds and Rivera dished out eight assists for the Miners, who leave the WAC for Conference USA next season.
The 'Bows overcame a 13-point first half deficit and took a nine point lead in the second half due to a 17-0 run which stretched between both periods. UH out-scored the Miners 21-4 to start the second half to take a 58-49 advantage with 11:40 remaining in the game.
With UH holding a 64-55 lead with 7:44 left, the Miners used a 7-0 run to pull within 64-62. Moments later, a pair of Rivera free throws and a 3-pointer by Miguel Ayala pulled UTEP to within one with 3:20 left.
The teams held each other scoreless for the next three possessions until Deonte Tatum's lay-up put UH ahead 70-67 with 1:18 remaining. On UTEP's next possession, Matt Gibson fouled Ayala while attempting a 3-point shot. Ayala made two free throws to cut the deficit to 70-69 with just under a minute left. On UH's ensuing possession, senior Jeff Blackett missed a 15-footer from the left corner giving UTEP the ball and possibly the final possession. Thomas drove the lane and was fouled by Tatum.
UH had once last chance for the win but Tatum missed a short jumper in the lane.
The Miners converted 30-of-38 free throw attempts in the game. UTEP also made just 3-of-18 field goals attempts in the second half, while making 25 trips to the free throw line.
In the first half, the Miners surged ahead 10-6 with treys by Rivera and Thomas. UTEP took a 25-18 lead after a Jason Williams alley-oop. Sottos then got hot, connecting on his first three treys, the third of which pulled UH to within 25-21.
With UH trailing 27-24, the Miners scored nine straight to take a 36-24 lead. UTEP extended its lead to 13 before the 'Bows scored the final five points of the half to pull within 45-37 at the half.
The 'Bows travel to Boise, where they will face Boise State, Saturday, Jan. 22. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m. MST at the Taco Bell Arena.