Second loss on the road for men’s basketball

Mike McGough

Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team lost its second straight game as the Hornets fell 74-62 to the UC Irvine Anteaters Saturday night.

Playing just two days after an 11-point loss to Abilene Christian in Texas, Sac State fell by a similar score and in a similar fashion on Saturday.

The team once again had trouble shooting early on, scoring just 27 points in the first half, and also suffered from turnover issues.

Head coach Brian Katz, who mentioned that UC Irvine boasts one of the tallest and most defensive-minded teams in the country, did not express concern over the loss.

“You’re never happy to lose,” Katz said. “But given the situation, the opponent and being on the road, the whole deal, [I’m] not discouraged, but actually encouraged about where our potential could be.”

The Hornets dropped to 4-3 on the season after suffering their second loss in three days, with the first coming on the heels of a four-game win streak.

The team shot 41.2 percent (21 of 51) from the field in Saturday night’s loss and scored 18 points in the paint to UC Irvine’s 46.

Sac State pulled within seven points of UC Irvine at the half, but a 15-4 Anteaters run to kick off the second half helped to bury the Hornets, who trailed by as many as 20 points.

Katz said the team missed several easy shots in the first half.

Seniors and co-captains Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity both had solid shooting games. McKinney scored 17 points on six of 10 made field goals in 38 minutes played. Garrity was active from long distance, making four of six from 3-point range en route to scoring 18 points in 30 minutes.

Katz was pleased with the performance of Garrity, a fourth-year guard who scored his 1,000th career point for Sac State in Thursday night’s loss.

“Dylan was in a little bit of a slump, just a little bit,” Katz said. “He just really snapped out of it and that’s the way we expect him to play the rest of the year.”

Ball control issues continued to plague the Hornets, as they turned the ball over 15 times. Katz has consistently cited turnovers as the team’s primary weakness so far this season.

“They were mostly unforced,” Katz said. “We’ve been our own worst enemy right now. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit. And yet I am confident, completely, that we will overcome it.”

McKinney and Garrity each had three turnovers, and the Anteaters were able to post 19 points off of Sac State’s turnovers.

The Hornets have now committed 13 or more turnovers in each of their last five games, including all three of the team’s home games this season.

The Anteaters distributed the ball well, as the team’s leading scorer, John Ryan, had 14 points in the 12-point victory.

Thanks largely to Garrity, the Hornets were able to post a high 3-point shooting percentage, shooting 46.7 percent (seven of 15) from behind the arc. In comparison, the Anteaters made just 19 percent (four of 21) of their 3-point attempts.

Katz felt his team rebounded well given the height of the Anteaters, who have five players listed on their roster at 6-feet-10 inches or taller. Sac State racked up 28 boards—nine on offense—against UC Irvine’s 36.

Sac State’s emphasis on scoring and quality shooting has been evident early in the season. The Hornets are undefeated in games in which they have shot 50 percent or better from the field this season, and winless in games in which they have not.

The Hornets will hope to put their 0-2 road trip behind them as they return to their home court.

Sac State will play its next game 7:05 p.m. Thursday against Cal State Fullerton from the Nest, where the Hornets are unbeaten so far this year.