I knew Saturday after it happened. I decided I wasn’t sitting out. I made my mind up from the beginning. I was going to work on this thing and put in the work. —David Collette
LAS VEGAS — David Collette’s injured ankle was wrapped in plenty of ice after Utah’s 68-66 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. Perhaps it was only fitting. There was a harshness and cold reality that followed the setback for the Utes.
No conference crown. No NCAA tournament berth. No second chances.
Collette, a senior, acknowledged feeling disappointed as he sat in a relatively quiet locker room at T-Mobile Arena.
“At the end of the day, what can you do? I feel like we played hard and I’m pretty proud of a lot of our guys for what they did,” he added. “It’s just unfortunate in the outcome.”
As for Collette’s sore ankle, which was injured in Utah’s regular-season win over Colorado last Saturday, the forward had no intentions of letting it keep him out of action.
“I’m not sitting out my senior year in the Pac-12 Tournament,” Collette said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Collette answered the bell. He made 8 of 9 shots from the field and scored 16 points before fouling out after 19 minutes.
There were no limitations, Collette insisted, and he was ready to go.
“I knew Saturday after it happened. I decided I wasn’t sitting out,” Collette continued. “I made my mind up from the beginning. I was going to work on this thing and put in the work.”
There was obvious pain, though.
“Look at the thing. It’s about ready to fall off,” Collette said. “It’s still swollen beyond belief. I mean it’s ridiculous. I think the adrenaline helped.”
Collette joked about trying to punch himself in the lip and focus on something else that hurt rather than his ankle.
The outcome eventually took care of it. Utah lost an 11-point lead in the final 91/2 minutes. The Utes had a 62-57 advantage when Collette added a slam dunk with 4:03 to go.
The Ducks chipped away at the deficit until the lead changed hands three times over a span of 11 seconds before the game entered its final minute.
Utah guard Sedrick Barefield missed a 3-point shot with 40 seconds to go. In the last second, the junior drove to the rim but was the ball was swatted away by Oregon’s Kenny Wooten. The finish left the Utes stunned. Team scoring leader Justin Bibbins, who had 20 points, was unguarded behind the 3-point line when it all went down at the end.
“Justin was open and I just didn’t make the right play,” said Barefield, who explained that he saw space and that Wooten just timed it well.
Coming up short, Barefield explained, was “depressing.”
At 19-11 overall, the Utes are most likely headed to the NIT. Pairings will be announced Sunday. In the meantime, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak spoke about decompressing, He noted that the block is what everyone wants to remember.
“There was a lot of plays in between and before that were just as key,” he said. “So we hung in there.”
Until the end, as it turned out.
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