Sacramento State’s reputation as a Pac-12 killer crossed from football to basketball Friday night.
This time, Utah was the victim.
Sophomore guard Dylan Garrity scored 19 points, including the go-ahead jump shot with 1:29 remaining, to lead the Hornets to a 74-71 victory over the Utes.
Within the last 14 months, Sacramento State’s football team has beaten Oregon State and Colorado.
At the Huntsman Center, the Hornets played with similar determination, coming from 13 down in the final 12 minutes to score another improbable victory.
“We have to learn how to win,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “… Offensively we were pretty solid for three quarters. Our bigs did exactly what we were looking for — [shooting] high percentages. Then we kind of went away from that.”
Point guard Glen Dean led the Utes with 16 points, but freshman star Jordan Loveridge played only 18 minutes because of foul trouble. He finished with four points.
“By nature, he gets revved up and it’s all about being physical and banging on guys,” Krystkowiak said. “[But] I was hoping he could learn this kind of lesson after a win.”
After a 104-47 win over Willamette in its opener, Utah appeared on the way to another victory when Justin Seymour buried a 3-pointer to make it 58-45.
Sacramento State countered with a 25-12 run, however, and tied the jump-shooting Utes at 70 on Konnor Veteto’s layup with 1:57 left.
“There has to be the same sense of urgency on every possession,” Krystkowiak said. “I really thought a turning point came, when they were hitting shots, we kind of aborted the plan of throwing the ball inside.”
After Veteto’s basket, Utah finally went back inside and Dallin Bachynski was fouled. He made one free throw to push the Utes back in front, setting up the game’s key sequence.
Garrity drove off a pick-and-roll screen and Bachynski switched to him.
Taking advantage of his quickness, Garrity drilled a 17-footer to give Sacramento State its first lead since midway through the first half.
Down 72-71, Loveridge missed a baseline jumper, and Jarred DuBois failed to convert after an offensive rebound. The Utes got the ball back again and Bachynski was fouled, but he missed the first of a one-and-one with 57 seconds to play.
“We have to learn something from every game — win or lose,” Bachynski said. “Me, I’m going to get into the gym and work on free throws.”
Needing a stop, Utah forced Sacramento State’s John Dickson into a long 3-pointer, which missed.
Joe Eberhard grabbed the Hornets’ 13th offensive rebound, however, and Loveridge fouled out while stopping the clock.
“I was disappointed we got outrebounded,” Krystkowiak said. “We can live with the fact that they are smaller and can spread us out. But … we have a lot of work to do defensively and rebound-wise.”
Eberhard’s free throws forced the Utes into needing a 3-pointer. They missed twice, once when Dean’s jumper was blocked.
“Our goals are simple,” said Sacramento State coach Brian Katz. “One, we want to get better every day. Two, we want to win our next game. Three, we want to have more fun than any team in the country. And I tell my guys, we aren’t going to have any fun if we don’t do No. 1 and No. 2.”