Fresno State Falls To Utah In NCAA Tournament

 

MW Postseason Central | @MW_MHoops on Twitter Twitter
2015-16 Standings | Stats | Media Guide | Mountain West Network

 

DENVER - Fresno State senior guard Marvelle Harris scored 24 points with six assists and four rebounds as the 14th-seeded Bulldogs' men's basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit to take the lead before falling 80-69 to the third-seeded Utah Runnin' Utes on Thursday at Denver's Pepsi Center during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Harris, who finished his career as the Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer with 2,031 career points, and senior guard Julien Lewis added 14 points, including nine points to spark Fresno State's 10-0 run midway through the second half that erased a double-digit second-half deficit.

"Tonight, we didn't do a great job at the start of the ballgame," Fresno State fifth-year head coach Rodney Terry said. "We didn't make decisive plays, we didn't make good decision-making plays in the first half. I thought we were much, much better in the second half. As a direct result of that, we had a ballgame with seven minutes to go."

Sophomore 7-footer Jakob Poeltl scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds to help Utah (27-8) hold off Fresno State (25-10). The Utes advance to the Round of 32 while the Bulldogs' season ends after its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.

Utah, the third seed in the Midwest, used a blistering 19-2 run down the stretch to regain control after falling behind for the first time all night with 10:32 remaining.

Lorenzo Bonham had 17 points and Brandon Taylor added 16 for the Utes (27-8).

The Bulldogs' nine-game winning streak came crashing to a halt even though they took a 48-47 lead with 10:32 remaining on Julien Lewis' 3-pointer, capping that 10-0 run over a 90-second span.

Bonham put Utah back on top with a 3 and Jordan Loveridge, whose back-to-back turnovers led to half of the Bulldogs' points in their run, sank two 3s to atone for his errors.

Fresno State, who hadn't lost since Feb. 13 in overtime at Nevada, had one last run in them: They scored the next nine points to cut the deficit to 67-59 with two minutes left.

Poeltl's three-point play on a nifty spin move halted the run and kept the Bulldogs at bay.

The Bulldogs did a good job on Poeltl early on, limiting him to 2-of-7 shooting in the first half. They used a swarming defense to force him into some mistakes like a throwback pass that resulted in a backcourt violation.

"We came a long way," Harris said. "We didn't just want to make the tournament, we wanted to win, of course. But we came a long way. I'm proud of the program, players, coaches and community. We showed a lot of grit and toughness this season."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.