INDIANAPOLIS — For a moment, it looked like Utah had gotten a break when Julian Larry lined up a 3-point attempt with seven and a half minutes to go in the Utes’ NIT semifinal matchup against Indiana State on Tuesday night.

Larry’s shot spun around the rim, keeping the pro-Indiana State crowd on edge as they excitedly cheered, then quieted as the shot’s fate held in the balance.

For a half-second, Larry’s shot looked like it was going to roll out.

Then, it found its way through the net.

It was only one play, but it was just that kind of night for Utah, which fell 100-90 to the Sycamores, ending the Utes’ postseason run two wins short of a title at the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Larry’s 3-pointer gave Indiana State a 77-66 lead, and from there, Utah never got closer than eight points down the stretch.

“We really played well offensively, but we just didn’t have a ton of answers for them, and credit to them,” Utah coach Craig Smith said. “They put a lot of pressure on you in all five positions.”

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3 keys to Utah’s loss to Indiana State in the NIT semifinals

The Utes finished the season 22-15, their first 20-win season in six years, and made a deep run in their first appearance in a national postseason tournament in, not coincidentally, six years.

“It was never the goal to play in the NIT, but once we rallied around that, it was a great experience,” Utah guard Gabe Madsen said.

Indiana State (32-6), a team that had a strong argument to be included in the NCAA Tournament but was snubbed despite a No. 29 NET ranking, was just too good on offense Tuesday.

That’s a signature of the Sycamores, who came into the game leading the nation in effective field goal percentage.

Now, Indiana State will play for the NIT championship on Thursday night against Seton Hall, an 84-67 winner over Georgia in the night’s other semifinal.

“I just think they are a great team,” Utah center Branden Carlson said. “They do a good job of moving the ball. You’ve got to rotate over to help and then they keep finding that open man with those one-more passes and they are obviously very skilled all around and able to create for themselves and for others.

“It’s sometimes they hit some tough shots, and give them credit. I just think they played outstanding tonight offensively and really gave us some troubles.”

The Sycamores had a 50-26 advantage in points in the paint and held a 15-7 edge in second-chance points as they outrebounded Utah 35-29.

Indiana State grabbed control early, endured a Utah run later in the first half, then forged away in the second as they got used to a variety of defenses the Utes threw at them.

After the teams went into the half tied at 44-44, Indiana State slowly built an eight-point lead over the second half’s first 10 1/2 minutes.

Utah countered with a mini-spurt of its own, including a Madsen 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 71-66, but the Sycamores responded with a pair of 3s just over 20 seconds apart — one from Xavier Bledson and the aforementioned one from Larry — to push the lead into double-digits.

For an Indiana State team that shot 60% in the second half, that was enough in a game that saw plenty of explosive offense.

Utah only had nine turnovers, but several of them were big, particularly in the early moments of the second half. Indiana State, meanwhile, had seven turnovers but just one after halftime.

“When you turn it over, you just feel like every possession on offense is so important because of our struggles on defense,” Smith said.

“So you just feel like you’ve got to capitalize, and certainly when you turn it over against these guys, much like when we turn people over it’s very difficult to sprint back and get the ball stopped against a team that’s dynamic like them.”

This all happened in front of a sold-out, mostly blue-clad Indiana State crowd that traveled the 75 miles northwest from their Terre Haute campus to Indianapolis to cheer on their Sycamores.

“It’s been a lot of fun coming into Hinkle and seeing a sea of blue,” Indiana State star Robbie Avila said. “Utah is a really good team and it was a great game, but to continue to play in front of our fans like that, it’s a blessing.”

For the Utes, which played their first three games in the NIT at home, it was their first real road environment in weeks.

“They made their presence felt,” Smith said of the fans. “It was an amazing spirit and atmosphere in that facility, but one that I think our guys really embraced and were looking forward to, but we know that can be a huge advantage.”

Utah turned to its 3-point shooting — and some resilience — to help it get back in the game after falling behind 28-17 in the first half.

The Utes tied a school record by hitting 17 3-pointers, on 29 attempts.

“It’s not the first time we’ve been down. I think we started off pretty hot our previous games, had a lead on teams. That kind of threw us off,” Utah guard Deivon Smith said.

“But once we got used to the environment and just what was going on during the game and adjusting to the defenses and what we messed up on early, I think we settled in pretty fine.”

3 takeaways

Why Utah lost: The Utes’ defense struggled against Indiana State, who shot 60% in the second half and 56.9% for the game, while making 12 of 34 3-pointers.

That overshadowed a 52.3% shooting night from Utah, which included a school record-tying 17 made 3-pointers.

Key stretch: The Utes managed to cut it to a five-point Indiana State lead at 71-66 on a Gabe Madsen 3.

Indiana State had a quick answer, though, as Xavier Bledson countered with a 3, then after a Utah miss, Julian Larry had a 3-pointer rim out then back in to make it 77-66 with 7:36 to play.

Top performers: Ryan Conwell paced the Sycamores with a career-high tying 27 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Robbie Avila added 26 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Deivon Smith was one of four Utes in double-figures, as he finished with a career-high 28 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. Branden Carlson, in his final collegiate game, scored 17 points and had five rebounds.

That tells you just how efficient — and deadly — the Indiana State offense was. Not even an outstanding night from the 3-point line was enough.

Ryan Conwell scored a career-high tying 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting to lead Indiana State, while adding six rebounds and four assists.

Avila, the internet sensation whose signature goggle look and stretch-five abilities have earned him a handful of creative nicknames, scored 15 in the first half and finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds with three assists.

“I think teams have to pick their poison, really,” Avila said. “Obviously in the beginning of the game, I was able to get open and so I was able to get going, but then they really started to focus on me, switched defenses, and switching five and zone that started to create for Ryan and (Isaiah) Swope.”

Swope was one of four Sycamore players in double-figures, as he and Larry added 15 points each.

Deivon Smith capped his first year in the Utah program with a career-high 28 points, making 6 of 6 3-pointers, while adding seven rebounds and six assists.

“Deivon really got going in the second half. I think he even said, once we got used to the environment, so to speak, and kind of settled in, and you could see that in the second half,” Craig Smith said.

Carlson, in his final game as a Ute after five unforgettable seasons, added 17 points and five rebounds.

“They were bringing the double early, and Branden did such a good job skipping it out and creating looks for his teammates,” Craig Smith said. “Then they pretty much chose to play him one-on-one, and he scored most of those times and had a great look to him.”

On a night offense drove the narrative, one defensive element stood out.

Madsen was coming off a pair of solid shooting games, as he hit 13 3-pointers total in wins over Iowa and VCU and scored a career-high 31 in the victory over the Hawkeyes.

On Tuesday night, though, he was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting as Larry helped tighten the screws on one of Utah’s most dynamic players.

“Julian Larry, if I’m ever going to get into a deal where somebody has to chase a guy off a hundred screens, I’m always choosing Julian Larry to do that. He was phenomenally defensively,” Indiana State coach Josh Schertz said.

That did help other players get open, among them Ben Carlson, who made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points.

Deivon Smith, too, was a benefactor, as he scored 19 points after halftime.

Far too often, though, Utah didn’t have enough answers to stop the Sycamores offense.

“That’s been a bit of our issue throughout this season is just consistency on the defensive end,” Craig Smith said, “and we just didn’t have enough tonight.”