Men’s basketball drops season opener against No. 13 Gonzaga

Mike McGough

Facing one of the nation’s top teams, Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team lost 104-58 in Friday’s regular season opener against Gonzaga University.

The Hornets had their work cut out for them to start the 2014-15 season, playing against a Gonzaga team that was ranked 13th in the country by both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches Poll entering the season.

Given the caliber of Sac State’s opponent, coach Brian Katz was not displeased with his team’s performance.

“I’m not down on the group at all,” Katz said. “To me, this is definitely the most talented team and the hardest environment we’ll play in all year. No doubt about it. Not even close.”

Senior guard Dylan Garrity and junior guard Cody Demps were bright spots in the Hornets’ season-opening performance.

Garrity played 29 minutes, made four of eight field goal attempts and led the team in scoring with 13 points. He also racked up two steals.

“It was a real tough four for eight, he was being guarded very closely,” Katz said. “Every shot he got was a tough shot.”

Demps was the only other Hornet to post a double digit figure. He scored 10 points in 31 minutes after shooting three of nine from the field and going 4-for-4 at the free-throw line.

Demps also pulled in five rebounds, all on defense, and had two of his team’s five assists.

“I liked Cody Demps’ aggression,” Katz said. “I thought he really drove it the way we need him to.”

Senior guard Mikh McKinney did not play against Gonzaga. Katz cited “disciplinary reasons” as the cause for his absence.

The game was tight only for the first five minutes. With 15:31 left in the first half, Gonzaga began a 13-0 run that would turn a 7-7 tie into a 20-7 cushion, creating a lopsided affair within three minutes.

“I thought we came out with some real fight, I definitely thought we were physical,” Katz said. “Actually, we kind of had the game going how we wanted it to go, and then the turnovers led to transition baskets.”

Sac State committed 22 turnovers to Gonzaga’s 12 over the course of the game.

Gonzaga built up a 60-26 lead over Sac State by halftime.

As a team, the Hornets were outperformed in several areas. Gonzaga shot over 54 percent from the field, making 36-of-66 shots as the team posted triple digits. Sac State shot under 36 percent, 20-of-56 from the field.

Sac State made five of 15 attempted 3-pointers, two coming off the hands of Garrity. Gonzaga went 10-of-24 behind the arc.

The Hornets only had five assists for the game and just one by halftime. Gonzaga had 13 assists at the half and 24 for the game.

Sac State blocked one shot to Gonzaga’s six and were out-rebounded by a margin of 47 to 28.

Katz was nonetheless happy with his players’ effort.

“I thought our kids really came in with a good mindset,” Katz said. “[They] really fought hard, they really tried hard. But against Gonzaga, you can’t turn it over and give them any opportunities.”

Despite a losing outcome, Katz felt that the season opener was good preparation for the rest of the season.

“This will get us ready for the remaining 28 games, no doubt,” Katz said.

The Hornets will return to California for their next game. Sac State will play its second game of the season 7 p.m. Monday on the road against UC Riverside.