Men’s basketball lose 72-61 at Abilene Christian University

Mike McGough

Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team had its four-game winning streak snapped Thursday night with a 72-61 loss at Abilene Christian University.

Sac State’s record fell to 4-2 on the season and 1-2 on the road with the defeat.

Head coach Brian Katz felt that the Wildcats outplayed the Hornets Thursday night, particularly in the first half.

“We can’t get down 13 at half, especially on the road,” Katz said. “They [Abilene Christian] really played hard and had a great game plan, and we just were a step slow in all aspects of the game.”

One bright spot in the loss for the Hornets was a milestone achieved by senior guard Dylan Garrity. Entering the game with 998 points in his Sac State career, Garrity hit a 12-foot jumper with 15:48 left in the first half to reach 1,000 points.

Garrity, a team co-captain, was the Hornets’ leading scorer Thursday night. The senior scored 19 points on six of 14 made field goals in 35 minutes played.

Katz praised Garrity’s contributions over the past four years, since the Huntington Beach native joined the roster as a true freshman in the 2011-12 season.

“I just wish it could have come on night we won [and] I wish it could have been at home,” Katz said of Garrity’s milestone. “I’ll say this: There’s not a better student-athlete, in terms of the word ‘student-athlete’ [and] what it stands for, in the entire country than Dylan Garrity. There’s not a better one anywhere.”

Garrity became the 12th player in program history to reach quadruple digits.

The Hornets struggled from the field, where they made just 17 of 53 shots Thursday night—a field goal percentage of less than 33. The Hornets had entered the game shooting close to 53 percent from the field through the first five games of the season.

Senior guard Mikh McKinney, who had led the team in scoring in the team’s last road win at UC Riverside, made just three of 13 field goal attempts in 38 minutes played Thursday night en route to scoring 12 points. Senior forward Zach Mills made one of nine field goal tries.

Coming off a career-best 20 points in Monday night’s game, sophomore Nick Hornsby scored three points Thursday, shooting one-for-five from the field. Hornsby led his team with six rebounds and two blocked shots.

Sac State never took a lead in the game, and trailed by as many as 17 points.

The first half proved to be a particular struggle for the Hornets on offense. In the period, Sac State made just six of 26 attempted field goals—a rate of 23.1 percent—and turned the ball over 10 times.

Katz had mentioned ball control as a point of improvement throughout the 3-0 home stand that ended with Monday’s win over Utah Valley.

Katz felt that his team played better in the second half—in which they turned the ball over just four times—and made a good effort at a comeback.

“Our effort was tremendous in the second half,” Katz said. “But I told our guys, ‘You get what you deserve.’ We were a step slow in the first half. They [Abilene Christian] were the more aggressive team.”

The Hornets managed to linger thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by McKinney and junior guard Cody Demps in the last 65 seconds that kept the team playing the foul game until the very end.

“It’s the way the season is,” Katz said. “There’s ebbs and flows, ups and downs. Now we’ve got a little taste of adversity. We’ve won four in a row, and now we’ve got to quickly remember what that sting of defeat means. There’s a lot of peaks and valleys during the year, and we’ve got to stay the course and we’ve got to weather them.”

At 4-2, Sac State sits at second place in the Big Sky Conference standings early in the season, tied with Northern Colorado and Portland State. Eastern Washington leads the conference with a 6-1 record in non-conference play.

The Hornets will head to UC Irvine for their next game at 7:05 p.m. this Saturday.