Utah ousts Irvine for first postseason win since 2018

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 20 Mar, 2024 at 05:43 AM

Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Branden Carlson had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Utah to an 84-75 victory over UC Irvine Tuesday night in an NIT first-round game in Salt Lake City.

The second-seeded Utes (20-14) next host No. 3 Iowa (19-14) in the second round Saturday or Sunday.

The victory was the first for Utah in the postseason since 2018, when the Utes reached the NIT championship game.

Deivon Smith had 13 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for Utah. Gabe Madsen finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Hunter Erickson added 13 points.

UC Irvine (24-10) was led by Derin Saran's 16 points. Devin Tillis contributed 14 points with seven rebounds and Bent Leuchten finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

UC Irvine went on a 9-0 run to cut Utah's lead to 77-73 with 2:05 left. Justin Hohn and Saran each made a 3-pointer to end that stretch.

Carlson made two free throws with 1:40 remaining to give Utah a 79-73 lead. He made two more with 1:14 left after Leuchten missed a 3-pointer.

After a jumper made by Pierre Crockrell II, Madsen was fouled and he made two free throws with 50.8 seconds left to give Utah an 83-75 lead.

Madsen made one of two free throws with 36.5 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.

Utah held a 27-20 lead with 7:33 left in the first half before UC Irvine went on a 10-2 run. A layup by Dean Keeler with 4:46 remaining in the half put the Anteaters ahead 31-29.

After UC Irvine led 40-37 with 1:38 left in the half, Utah ended the scoring before halftime with three straight 3-pointers by Erickson and two by Madsen.

Madsen's last 3-pointer was a 35-foot shot at the buzzer that gave Utah a 46-40 halftime lead.

Madsen had 11 points to lead Utah at the half. Leuchten and Tillis each had 11 for UC Irvine.

--Field Level Media