SALT LAKE CITY — For the second consecutive season, Utah lost its Pac-12 opener in overtime.
This one, however, proved to be especially painful as 10th-ranked Oregon escaped from the Huntsman Center with a 70-68 win over the Utes after Damyean Dotson dunked the ball with one second to go following a steal and breakaway dribble down the court.
A final 3-point attempt by Jordan Loveridge missed the mark as time expired, sending the enthusiastic crowd of 13,426 home disappointed. A similar shot also failed to connect at the end of regulation.
“I think it was an awesome game overall,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who noted the opportunities his team had to win the game in what he called a really good college environment against a great team.
Instead of dwelling on a decisive turnover when Dotson stole a pass that Dallin Bachynski intended for Loveridge, Krystkowiak noted that the turning point was when the Utes failed to expand leads in stretches — breaking away from what they needed to do offensively; having turnovers they couldn’t defend; and starting to jog back on defense.
“Of course there’s regret, a little bit. There’s making mistakes — me personally,” said Bachynski, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. “But kudos to them for putting pressure on us, for keeping it up all game as well as the last seconds of the game.”
Loveridge, who led all scorers with 21 points, added that it was a big game and a good battle.
“Unfortunately we didn’t come away with the win,” he said. “All we can do is move forward from here.”
Utah (11-2), which dropped a 55-54 overtime decision at Arizona State in last season’s conference opener, had a 13-game home winning streak snapped with the setback.
“It’s a little disheartening,” Krystkowiak said. “But I don’t think that taste will be in our mouth for too long.”
That’s the nature of the league, he added, explaining that the Utes will get back on the horse again soon. They’ll host Oregon State Saturday afternoon at 2.
“Win, lose, whatever happened tonight, we weren’t going to celebrate and we weren’t going to get too down because the reality is that we’re playing 40 hours later,” Krystkowiak said.
Offensively, Krystkowiak acknowledged that things didn’t click so much against the Ducks (13-0). He did, however, like what the Utes did defensively. They held the nation’s top scoring team to 20 points below its average — doing so despite a five-minute overtime.
Utah put the clamps on Oregon early. The Utes held the Ducks scoreless for a span of 6:18 while reeling off 10 straight points to overcome a 2-0 deficit. Bachynski and Dakarai Tucker had three points apiece during a run that included baskets by Loveridge and Brandon Taylor.
By the time Oregon responded — on a 3-pointer by Elgin Cook with 13:21 left to play in the half — the Ducks had missed 12 of their first 13 shots from the field. The Utes added to the misery by blocking four of the attempts.
Oregon eventually recovered, however, and managed to knot the score four times before the half was complete.
“Of course they were going to come back because they’re a good team and they’re not going to give up,” Bachynski said. “No good team is just going to give up. We always knew they were going to fight.”
Utah managed to take a 32-28 halftime lead after pulling ahead on consecutive baskets by Bachynski, Loveridge and Delon Wright down the stretch.
The Utes took their biggest advantage — at 45-35 with 13:45 remaining in the second half — when Tucker hit a 3-pointer.
Oregon fired back with an 18-4 burst, though, to take a 53-49 edge in the last seven minutes of regulation. The score was tied three times and changed hands twice in the final 2:44 before heading to overtime, where the outcome was finally decided.
Both teams shot 38 percent from the field in a game featuring 30 turnovers.
“That game had two teams that played awfully hard. I’m sure they’re disappointed with the way they shot the ball,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman. “We’re disappointed with the way we shot the ball. Offensively, both teams struggled a little bit. But both teams played really hard.”
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