NCAAB: Utah pushes past struggling Saint Mary’s

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Gabe Madsen and Rollie Worster each scored 17 points Monday night and Utah pulled away from struggling Saint Mary’s in the second half to post a 78-71 nonconference win in Moraga, Calif.

Worster added eight rebounds for the Utes (4-2), while Cole Bajema kicked in 14 points. Utah shot only 33.3 percent from the field after halftime but made up for it by sinking 21 of 28 free throws.

Aidan Mahaney scored a game-high 22 points for the Gaels (3-4), while Alex Ducas added 16 and Joshua Jefferson netted 14 points. It wasn’t enough to prevent their fourth loss in five games, however, largely because of a ragged second half that saw them make only 10 of 29 field-goal attempts.

After the teams ended the first half tied 38-38, the Utes controlled the first 15 minutes of the second half, establishing a 67-52 lead with 4:44 left when Worster canned a 3-pointer. The margin was still 70-57 at the 3:14 mark when Saint Mary’s nailed three straight 3-pointers and then pulled within 72-68 on Mahaney’s driving layup with 34 seconds remaining.

However, Utah secured the result by connecting on 6 of 8 foul shots in the final 33 seconds.

Saint Mary’s played the first part of the game on its terms, grinding out an 18-12 lead just over nine minutes into the game when Mahaney drilled a 3-pointer. But the Gaels’ defense started losing shooters and Utah was able to score at will for most of the half’s remainder.

Beginning with Worster’s 3-pointer at the 10:26 mark, the Utes rattled off 20 points in less than five minutes. They made 6 of 8 3-pointers in that span, with Madsen connecting on two and adding a layup to give them a 32-25 advantage.

However, Saint Mary’s was able to make a push at the half’s end. Jefferson shook free for a mid-range jumper and a layup off Mahaney feeds in the final two minutes, allowing the Gaels even the score before the break.

–Field Level Media

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