March 14, 2008
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Luke Nevill made all the plays down the stretch despite playing with four fouls over the final 11 1/2 minutes and the Utah Utes put a crimp in New Mexico's NCAA plans with an 82-80 overtime victory over the Lobos in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals Thursday night.
Nevill scored 26 points, including a slam dunk with 21 seconds left that put the Utes (17-13) ahead 81-80. The 7-foot Australian then rejected a shot by 6-1 guard Darren Prentice as he circled into the lane.
Lawrence Borha got the outlet pass for Utah and was fouled with 5.6 seconds left. He sank one of two free throws, leaving the Lobos with time to tie it or even win it on a 3-pointer.
J.R. Giddens, who led New Mexico (24-8) with 28 points and 17 rebounds, darted right past the three-point line and put up a runner that rimmed out at the buzzer.
The sixth-seeded Utes will face second-seeded UNLV in the semifinals Friday night at the Runnin' Rebels' home court, the Thomas & Mack Center.
Utah lost by a point to the Lobos in Salt Lake City and by 10 in overtime at home during the season.
The Utes had a chance to avoid overtime on this night after Chad Toppert's two free throws tied it at 72 with 13 seconds left in regulation. But Luke Drca threw it away with 1.5 seconds left and Jamaal Smith's desperation heave from three-quarters court was way short.
Nevill picked up his fourth foul with 6:31 left in regulation but never fouled out even though a couple of times he went hard to the basket and might easily have been whistled for the charge.
The Lobos jumped out to a nine-point lead in the opening minutes but trailed by 11 with 10 minutes to go in regulation before their furious comeback fell short.