Moraga, Calif. • The Utes may have missed out on the Big Dance, but they will make a trip to the Big Apple and try to bring back an NIT championship.
Utah extended its season with 67-58 overtime win over Saint Mary’s in the NIT quarterfinals at McKeon Pavilion. Utah became the second team to defeat Saint Mary’s (30-6) on its home court this season; Gonzaga was the other.
The Utes (22-11), the only team still playing from the Pac-12 Conference, advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday against Western Kentucky.
Utes senior forward Tyler Rawson scored 17 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Junior guard Sedrick Barefield scored a team-high 19 points, and Justin Bibbins added 10 points despite a tough shooting night (4 of 12).
The Utes played the second half without senior forward David Collette, the team’s second-leading scorer and a second-team All-Pac-12 selection who sat out the second half with a back injury. Sophomore center Jayce Johnson fouled out with 1:41 remaining in regulation after having scored six points with five rebounds.
Gaels senior center Jock Landale recorded a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Landale, the West Coast Conference player of the year, came into the night having averaged 21.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
After bouncing back from a six-point third quarter to force overtime, the Utes took a 63-58 lead on a Gabe Bealer 3-pointer from the corner off a feed from Donnie Tillman with 1:19 remaining in overtime. Barefield then buried a step back 3 with 30 seconds left to give the Utes a 66-58 edge and put the game out of reach.
The win avenged a loss from four years ago in the NIT when the Gaels knocked the Utes out of the tournament.
The Utes and Gaels went into halftime tied at 28 with both teams having scored 14 points in each of the first two quarters, a big decrease for the Utes after they scored 47 first-half points in a second-round win over LSU on Monday night.
Each team’s senior post players led the way early as Collette scored eight points on 4-for-6 shooting to lead the Utes and Landale scored nine points on 4-for-8 shooting to pace the Gaels.
Saint Mary’s turnovers provided a spark for the Utes, who shot 52 percent in the first half. The Utes scored 11 points off eight Gaels turnovers. Meanwhile, the Gaels scored nine second-chance points on seven first-half offensive rebounds (five by Landale).
The Ute scored six points in the third quarter on 2-of-11 shooting (1-of-6 on 3-pointers), and they went into the final period trailing 39-34.
Rawson scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half, and Barefield scored nine points in overtime.