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Utah holds off Fresno State with defense down the stretch

Sportsnaut
Dec 11, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes head coach Craig Smith reacts to his team in the second half against the Manhattan Jaspers at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes head coach Craig Smith reacts to his team in the second half against the Manhattan Jaspers at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Riley Battin gave Utah the lead for good with a 3-pointer, David Jenkins Jr. extended the advantage with one of his own on the Utes’ next possession and the hosts used a stifling defense down the stretch to outlast visiting Fresno State 55-50 in a nonconference game on Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.

Marco Anthony and Lahat Thioune led a balanced attack with 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Utah (8-4), which has alternated losses and wins in its last six games.

Orlando Robinson used three 3-pointers as the foundation for his game-high 17 points for Fresno State (9-3), which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Following a tightly contested first 34 minutes, the Utes took command on both ends of the court after a 3-pointer by Anthony Holland had given the Bulldogs their last lead at 45-43 with 5:46 to play.

The 3-pointers by Battin and Jenkins flipped the Utes into a four-point lead, and the Utah defense then held the visitors scoreless until after Lazar Stefanovic had added two free throws and Anthony contributed a dunk for a 53-45 advantage with just 48 seconds to play.

Robinson countered with a 3-pointer and a layup, closing the gap to 53-50 with still 19 seconds left, before Jenkins and Rollie Worster dropped in a free throw apiece to account for the final margin.

Stefanovic finished with nine points, Worster eight and Jenkins seven for the Utes, who won despite shooting just 39.2 percent. That’s because the Bulldogs hit just 33.3 percent of their shots.

Battin chipped in with five points, four rebounds and a team-high-tying three assists.

Deon Stroud grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to complement seven points and a game-high four assists off the bench for Fresno State, which outrebounded the hosts 40-35. Robinson had nine boards to go with his 17 points.

Each team made seven 3-pointers. Anthony and Jenkins had two apiece for Utah.

–Field Level Media