The Fresno State Bulldogs forced 20 turnovers from Utah, but that wasn’t enough to hold down the third-seeded Utes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Utah (27-8) defeated the Bulldogs (25-10), 80-69.
DENVER—The Fresno State Bulldogs forced 20 turnovers from Utah, but that wasn’t enough to hold down the third-seeded Utes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Utah (27-8) defeated the Bulldogs (25-10), 80-69. The Utes advanced to Saturday’s game against WCC champion Gonzaga.
Sloppy play by both sides led to 34 combined turnovers. Utah held multiple double-digit leads, but briefly surrendered the lead to Fresno State at 48-47 with 10:32 to play. Utah surged back with a 19-2 run to build back a sizable cushion.
Fresno State reduced the lead back to 8 points at 70-62 and 72-64, but that was as close as the Bulldogs would get to Utah, who finished shooting 19-22 from the free throw line.
Utah led by as many as 15 points in the first half (16 was the largest lead of the game). Ten giveaways left the scoring margin disproportionate with the 26-8 rebound advantage for the Utes. Jakob Poeltl amounted ten rebounds in the first 15 minutes of the game, also leading the way to a 20-12 points-in-the-paint lead for Utah in the half. The Utes finished outrebounding the Bulldogs, 38-15.
Fresno State’s senior guard Marvelle Harris, the Player of the Year in the Mountain West, was held in check by Utah’s defense in the first half. Junior Bulldog guard Paul Watson picked up the slack with nine points to close out the half and cut Utah’s lead to eleven. The Bulldogs struggled to score in the half, but were able to penetrate inside for four dunks and two layups on the Utes.
Harris scored 20 second-half points, but Utah’s ball movement and clutch shooting kept the Bulldogs out of reach late in the game. Lorenzo Bonam led Utah with 17 points, and Poeltl, Jordan Loveridge, and Brandon Taylor each finished with 16.
Tipoff for Utah and Gonzaga on Saturday is at 6:40pm MT.
Utah Utes Postgame Press Conference—
Utah Asst. Coach Tommy Connor Postgame—
Utah Senior F Jordan Loveridge Postgame—