Utah knew its 2017-18 season was going to end on Thursday in New York City, but it was hoping for a happier finish. Instead the Utes lost 82-66 to Penn State in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden.
A great run comes to an end tonight.
— Utah Basketball (@UtahMBB) March 30, 2018
The Utes (23-12) trailed 21-20 after tlhe first quarter and never were able to get the lead. They were unable to slow down Penn State’s offense. The Nittany Lions (26-13) shot 55.2 percent and assisted on 22 of 32 made baskets.
Utah trailed only 39-34 at halftime despite two early fouls against senior guard Justin Bibbins and a freak collision that sent senior forward David Collette to the locker room for a good portion of the first half. Penn State took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Utes 24-14.
Bibbins finished with 15 points but was just 4 of 12 from the field to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Collette had only 4 points in 13 minutes of action. Junior guard Sedrick Barefield was the only Ute who was clicking, scoring 22 on 8-of-11 shooting including 6 of 8 from 3-point range.
Utah was looking for its first NIT championship since 1947. The Utes also lost in the NIT final in 1974 and reached the semifinals in 1992.