PORTLAND -- The University of Utah Runnin' Utes played what was at times a close game against Stephen F. Austin University Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and Utah fended off the Lumberjacks in a hotly-contested final five minutes to win 57-50.
Utah held the lead for most of the first half, except for a brief moment when the Lumberjacks led 5-4, and they entered halftime on top 26-19. When play resumed for the second half, the Lumberjacks regained some ground and closed the gap to 25-26 before Jordan Loveridge hit a three-point shot to get the game moving again for Utah.
The Runnin' Utes seemed more in control from there, leading by as much as 12 points with 9 minutes left in the game, the score 43-31. Things tightened up in the last five minutes. Utah led 48-40 with 4:51 left, but by the time the clock read 41.2 left to play it was 52-49 with SF Austin poised to shoot two from the line, one of which was good to make the game 52-50.
The Lumberjacks fouled Utah soon after, and Delon Wright was good for two from the line to make it 54-50 with 30.7 left in the game. A missed three-point shot from SF Austin was recovered by Utah, and Isaiah Wright was fouled immediately after he got a hold of the ball.
I. Wright missed the first and made the second to give Utah a 5-point lead, and the Lumberjacks misfired on offense, giving Utah another rebound. Isaiah Wright was again fouled immediately after recovering, but he made both shots this time around to give the Utes a 57-50 lead that would stand as time expired.
Utah was a No. 5 seed coming into the NCAA Tournament following the end of their regular season, which culminated in Pac-12 Tournament semifinals loss against Oregon. Stephen F. Austin was a 12 seed, and the Lumberjacks had been on a hot streak since November 27, winning 28 of 29 games in that time.
Utah will play on Saturday, March 21 against Georgetown.