MORAGA, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes are in a New York state of mind.
Sedrick Barefield hit 3 three-pointers in overtime, as the Utah basketball team pulled away from St. Mary’s, 67-58, to advance to the NIT Final Four for the first time since 1992 in Madison Square Garden.
Utah will face Western Kentucky, who beat Oklahoma State, on March 27th at 5:00 p.m. mountain time.
Tyler Rawson made 5 of 7 from beyond the three-point arc and finished with 17 points, while Justin Bibbins chipped in 10 points.
David Collette scored eight points in the first half, but suffered a back injury and was not able to return the game after halftime.
Collette’s replacement, Jayce Johnson, fouled out with 6 points and 5 rebounds, so the Utes had to go to small for the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
But thanks to Barefield’s clutch shooting and a dagger three-pointer from Gabe Bealer, the Utes held on for the victory.
There were 14 ties and nine lead changes and neither team led by more than five until Barefield hit a step-back 3-pointer from the left wing for a 66-58 lead with 30.4 seconds to go.
Utah held the Gaels to just 40 percent shooting, and made 12 of 27 three-pointers.
St. Mary’s outrebounded the Utes, 40-26, but committed 15 turnovers compared to just 8 for Utah. St. Mary’s also made just 5 of 14 free throws.
Jock Landale led the Gaels with 16 points and 15 rebounds. This was St. Mary’s second loss at home all season.
Utah (22-12) has not made it to the NIT Final Four since 1992, and has not won the tournament since 1947.
Penn State and Mississippi State are the other two teams moving on to New York City. The semifinal winners will play Thursday, March 29th.