mountain west:

Utah escapes with win over TCU

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Sam Morris

Utah center Luke Nevill dunks against TCU at the Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships Thursday, March 12, 2009. Utah won the game 61-58 on a last-second three point shot.

Utes Exciting Win

Utah pulls of some late game heroics to take down TCU in the quarter-finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Utah vs. TCU

Utah center Luke Nevill dunks against TCU at the Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships Thursday, March 12, 2009.  Utah won the game 61-58 on a last-second three point shot. Launch slideshow »

Lawrence Borha could do nothing but watch and wait. With his Utah Utes tied against TCU in the final seconds of the Mountain West Conference tournament quarterfinals, Borha camped out in the corner and waited for a chance.

The Utes’ Luka Drca dribbled at the top of the key, letting the clock tick down to about 10 seconds, then started his drive to the hoop. As Drca made his move to the basket, everyone collapsed on the ball.

Everyone except Bohra.

Drca swung a pass to the lonesome Bohra, wide open in the corner. He stroked the open look to give the Utes a 61-58 lead with 0.8 seconds left.

“It felt good,” Bohra said. “But a lot of my shots feel good, so I wasn’t sure.”

The Horned Frogs’ desperation last-second shot attempt failed, sending Utah to play Wyoming in the semifinals Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“I was just ready in the corner, ready to shoot the ball if it was coming to me,” Bohra said. “When it (went) in, I was just relieved and excited.”

Ending their season with a tough loss is nothing new to the Horned Frogs, who lost by one point to UNLV in last season’s Mountain West Tournament. The Rebels went on to win the tournament.

If there was any doubt about Utah (22-9, 12-4 MWC) getting into the NCAA Tournament before Thursday, the win over TCU likely guarantees the Utes a spot in the Big Dance.

“I don’t see a problem with getting in,” Utah head coach Jim Boylen said.

Utah’s win came after Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Luke Nevill had to watch nearly all of the first half from the bench, and didn’t score a point until midway through the second half.

Nevill picked up two early fouls, and played just four minutes in the first half. He made only one field goal in the game, and finished with 10 points. Without the usual production from their star player, the Utes had to go to other options to lead the way.

“It’s not just Luke Nevill and the rest of us,” Utah senior Shaun Green said. “It’s a complete team.”

Green was one of the players for the Utes who elevated his game, scoring a team-high 14 points and knocking down three clutch 3-pointers in the second half.

“Shaun Green is as steady a senior as we’ve had,” Boylen said.

Throughout the second half, TCU wouldn’t quit. Every time the Utes would open a lead, the Horned Frogs would come right back.

Playing against a team it had already beaten twice in the regular season, Utah never led by more than seven points.

The Horned Frogs’ Zvonko Buljan helped keep his team in the game, shooting 7-of-13 on the game and leading TCU with 20 points.

Ronnie Moss had 16 points for TCU, but missed the most important shot of the night. With the game tied and 22 seconds left, Moss had a chance to give the Horned Frogs the lead. He drove to the basket and had a layup, but his attempt just missed.

“I thought it was going in,” Moss said. “I had a great look. It just didn’t fall.”

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