DENVER -- The University of Utah opened their NCAA Tournament play in Denver Thursday night against Fresno State, and, despite a run from the Bulldogs to take a brief lead in the second half, the Utes came away with a 80-69 victory.
The early moments of the match-up unfolded in front of a nearly-empty arena, as the process of clearing the venue after the previous game meant many fans were still waiting outside as the No.3 Utes and No. 14 Bulldogs took the court.
Utah had an 11-point lead, 33-22, going into halftime, but the Bulldogs closed the gap in the second half. Turnovers from the guys in red and white contributed to the Bulldogs' resurgence, and Fresno State took the lead after a 10-point run, making it 48-47 with 10:33 left to play in the game. Utah had 17 turnovers at that point.
The Utes managed to stop the bleeding, though, responding with a 7-0 run of their own to make it 54-48 before the Bulldogs would score again. Utah continued to outscore Fresno State, ultimately finishing the contest 80-69. They had 20 turnovers total at the end of regulation.
Lorenzo Bonam led Utah in scoring with 17 points, while Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor and Jakob Poeltl shared a three-way tie for second at 16 points apiece. Poeltl also amassed 18 rebounds to earn a double-double.
Marvelle Harris led Fresno State in points with 24.
The Utes take the court next on Saturday, when they will face either Seton Hall, No. 6, or Gonzaga, No. 11 in the second round. That game is also in Denver.