Hanno Mottola scored five straight points to bring No. 8 Utah back from three points down in overtime Friday night and the Utes held on to beat stubborn Tulsa 64-61 to gain a spot in the Western Athletic Conference final.
It was the 21st straight win for Utah, but it didn't come easy, as Tulsa sent the game into overtime with a last-gasp shot, and had a chance to do the same in overtime but couldn't hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
Utah, trailing 60-57 in overtime, tied the game on a 3-pointer by Mottola and held Tulsa to only a single free throw by Michael Ruffin with 37.1 seconds left the rest of the way.
Tony Harvey put the Utes ahead for good with 1:46 with a banking 8-footer, and Alex Jensen then scored on a dunk to make it 64-60. Ruffin's free throw was the only scoring the rest of the way.
Utah (26-4) advanced to Saturday's WAC final against the No. 25 New Mexico-Southern Methodist winner.
Utah, coming off an easy victory the day before over Brigham Young, was cold from the field and looked sluggish in trailing the entire first half before finally taking a 26-25 halftime lead on a free throw by Harvey.
Utah looked like it was going to blow the game open in the second half as Jensen scored the first five points and the Utes led 47-36 with 11 minutes remaining.
Tulsa (22-9) kept coming back, and pulled to within 55-52 on two free throws by Greg Harrington with 25.2 seconds remaining.
Harrington then sent the game into overtime after Andre Miller missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 14.4 seconds remaining.
Harrington took the ball downcourt and hit a leaning 12-footer in the lane with 39 seconds left to tie the game at 55-55. Utah had one last chance to win in regulation, but Miller could not get a shot off in time.
Jensen led all scorers with 20 points, while Miller added 13 for Uah despite making only three of 13 shots. As a team, Utah shot 40 percent for the game to 44 percent for Tulsa.
Tony Heard had 14 points for Tulsa while Brandon Kurtz had 13 and Ruffin scored 12.
© 1999 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved