OREM — Digging deep to find just enough energy, the Utah Flash pulled away in the final minutes to post a 102-92 victory against the Dakota Wizards in their home opener Monday night.
The Flash — while staying within striking distance the entire game — seemed to be in slow motion most of the night, but head coach Brad Jones said they made plays when they needed it the most.
"As a coaching staff, we were concerned that we wouldn't have a lot of energy after being away from home," he said, referring to Utah's season-opening road trip, on which they went 4-1. "We were right; it seemed like we were running in mud."
The Wizards (2-3) led a close first half most of the way, but built on that advantage in the third quarter, going up 59-48. That's when Jones exploded in response to a foul-call on one of his players, and had to be restrained by assistant coaches. Jones, who came all the way to almost midcourt, received a technical foul.
As is so often the case, Utah (5-1) responded by going on an 11-2 run shortly thereafter to make it a close game once again.
When asked if his technical foul motivated his team, he smiled and replied, "I don't know if it fired them up, but I was certainly fired up because I thought they were calling touch fouls on us, and our guys were getting the crap beat out of us. You've got to fight for your guys."
Despite its run, Utah didn't take the lead until there was just over three minutes to play. It was the first Flash lead since 2:26 of the second quarter.
At the same time, Dakota was on a run of its own, albeit pointing the Wizards the opposite way. They went six and a half minutes without scoring a single point, turning a 90-81 lead into a 97-92 deficit by the time they scored a basket.
At that point, it was time to send Utah to the free throw line, with under a minute to play. The Flash connected on 5-of-6 from the line in the final sixty seconds, and were aided by Bennet Davis' big blocked shot with 28 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
"We're very fortunate to have some guys on the team that were here last year that know what we're trying to do," Jones said.
Utah was led by Dontell Jefferson and Orien Greene, who both had 25 points. Jefferson added seven assists, while Greene pulled down seven rebounds..
Andre Ingram contributed 19 points, while Carlos Wheeler finished with 14.. Jordan Brady collected seven rebounds.
Dakota was led by Jason Straight with 21 points.
FLASH NOTES: Former Utah center Luke Nevill has yet to play for the Flash, and has been released by the team due to visa issues. Utah plans to re-sign Nevill, a native of Australia, when the visa issues have been cleared up.