James Woodard scored 27 points as the Golden Hurricane punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament by winning the championship of the Conference-USA tournament in El Paso, Texas.

Woodard made 8-of-13 from the floor, including 4-of-5 3-point attempts, and reached double figures for the 25th straight game for No.2 seed Tulsa (21-12). Rashad Ray supplied 15 points and Shaquille Harrison added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Hurricane, who earned a spot in the tournament for this first time since back-to-back appearances in 2002 and 2003.

Kenneth Smith put up 16 points and seven assists and Kenyon McNeail recorded 15 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Bulldogs (27-7), whose last tournament appearance came in 1991. Alex Hamilton logged 12 points and Chris Anderson notched 10 points and seven rebounds for Louisiana Tech, which had won three straight and five of the last six games against Tulsa.

After scoring nine points in the first half, Woodard was the difference in the second half for Tulsa, which trailed just once during the final 12 minutes. Woodard nailed a 3-pointer to give the Golden Hurricane a 48-43 edge with 11 minutes left but McNeail countered with back-to-back treys to give the Bulldogs their final lead a 51-50 with eight minutes remaining.

Woodard's layup put the score at 59-53 before a layup by Ray and seven free throws, including five by Woodard, sent Tulsa to the win. Tulsa was the better team early in the first half, opening to an 11-6 lead behind 5-of-7 shooting, but the Bulldogs started connecting from beyond the arc, where they scored 21 points en route to taking a 35-34 lead into the break.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Smith was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc for the Bulldogs, who scored 29 of their 35 first-half points either on 3-pointer or at the foul line, where they were 8-of-15. ... The Golden Hurricane, who are coach by Kansas legend Danny Manning, made 18-of-25 from the foul line. ... The Bulldogs finished 11-of-25 from beyond the arc, but it wasn't enough as they shot just 32.7 percent overall and 65.2 percent from the foul line.