Third time isn’t always the charm: Runnin’ Utes fall in triple overtime at Rice

A breakout game from freshman center Luke Nevill wasn’t enough to overcome a spirited Rice (3-3) team, as the Runnin’ Utes (4-1) dropped their first game of the season Saturday, 96-94 in triple overtime.

Before fouling out in the third overtime, Nevill notched 19 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs. He led five Utes in double figures on a day that saw the visiting squad battle back from several deficits, only to be turned away at the end.

Nearing the end of regulation, the Utes found themselves down by five with one minute to play. But thanks to buckets from Nevill, Bryant Markson and Johnnie Bryant, they managed to force an extra period. Like most of the game, the first overtime went back and forth. As the five-minute period wound down, the Utes forced a second overtime when Markson tied the game on a layup with 10 seconds left.

At the end of the second overtime, it looked as though Rice finally had the Utes beaten. With three seconds left, and once again trailing by two, Markson’s jumper went off the rim. But Nevill was in the right place at the right time, as he had been all day against the Owls, and tipped in the miss at the horn to force the third OT. Things got interesting in crunch time, when Markson got free for a dunk with four seconds to play. The jam cut Rice’s lead to two, but the Owls had a chance to seal the game at the line. However, in a game that was never easy for either team, Rice’s Rodney Foster missed both free throws, giving the Utes one more chance. But senior point guard Tim Drisdom’s desperation 3-pointer was off the mark, giving Rice the win and the Utes a frustrating loss.

The miss from beyond the arc at the end was indicative of the U’s perimeter shooting woes throughout the afternoon. As a team, the Utes shot 24 percent from three-point land, only connecting on six of 25 chances.

In the post, the Utes made up for what they lacked in outside accuracy. Rice was out-rebounded 60-34.

Nevill, Markson, Bryant and Shaun Green all had seven or more rebounds, but were at a disadvantage in the third overtime after Nevill and Green accrued their fifth fouls.

Utah now heads east to face Colorado in Boulder on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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