Middle Tennessee 71

(20-11, 11-4 Sun Belt)

Utah 76

(25-6, 12-4 MW)

    1:00 PM ET, March 18, 2006

    McKale Center, Tucson, Arizona

    1 2 T
    MTU 31 4071
    UTAH 31 4576

    Top Performers

    Middle Tennessee: C. Givens 25 Pts, 7 Reb

    Utah: S. Thorburn 21 Pts, 8 Reb

    Thorburn saves No. 5 Utah from early elimination

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Shona Thorburn brought Utah back from the brink of a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament.

    The senior guard scored eight of her 21 points in the final 4½ minutes and the fifth-seeded Utes rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit Saturday to beat No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee 76-71.

    Kim Smith, a four-time Mountain West Conference player of the year, struggled most of the game but scored five as Utah outscored the Blue Raiders 15-4 over the final 4:13.

    Jessica Perry scored 13 of her season-high 14 points in the first half for Utah. Smith and Heidi Carlsen added 13 points apiece.

    Chrissy Givens had 25 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds but missed three of four free throws in the final 4 minutes. Johnna Abney, a 5-foot-4 freshman, scored 15 on 5-of-9 3-pointers. Krystle Horton and Tia Stovall added 10 points apiece.

    The Utes were 19-for-21 free throws, 8-for-8 by Thorburn, compared with 3-for-8 by Middle Tennessee.

    Givens' 10-footer put Middle Tennessee ahead 67-61 with 4:34 remaining. Smith responded with her only 3 of the game to cut it to 67-64. After Givens made one of two free throws to boost the Raiders' lead to 68-64 with 3:56 to play, Thorburn followed with her only 3 in five attempts to cut it to 68-67 with 3:08 left.

    Givens missed two free throws with 2:41 to go. Utah turned it over, and Givens hit Stovall for a layup. But Stovall was called for an offensive foul to erase the basket, and Thorburn's three-point play gave Utah its first second-half lead, 70-68, with 1:07 left.

    Thorburn made two free throws to boost the lead to 72-68 with 32.2 seconds left. Julie Larsen's two free throws with 12.4 seconds put Utah ahead 74-68. Abney's 3 cut it to 74-71 with 4.3 seconds to go, but the Utes threw the length of the court to Smith for a layup to seal the victory.

    The Blue Raiders scored the last 10 points of the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers by Abney, to tie it at 31-31, then outscored the Utes 17-5 to start the second, taking a 48-36 lead on Starr Orr's 15-footer with 12:42 to play.

    Middle Tennessee stretched it to 57-42 after Stovall's driving layup with 10:11 remaining.

    The Utes scored the next 11 to get back in it, capped by Thorburn's three-point play that cut the lead to 57-53 with 8:04 to play.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 71 76
    FG Made-Attempted 29-63 (.460) 26-58 (.448)
    3P Made-Attempted 10-21 (.476) 5-15 (.333)
    FT Made-Attempted 3-8 (.375) 19-21 (.905)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 10 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 15 10

    Game Leaders

    PointsC. Givens 25S. Thorburn 21
    ReboundsC. Givens 7J. Perry 10


    » Mar 18, 2006 @UTAH 76, MTU 71Recap | Box Score