SALT LAKE CITY — If a 74-71 loss to Sacramento State is any indication, Utah basketball won’t be rebuilt in a day. The Utes dropped to 1-1 on the season after squandering a double-digit lead in the second half of Friday night’s game in the Huntsman Center.
“I think we played really well for three-fourths of the game, but we’ve got to learn how to close,” said Utah guard Glen Dean, who finished with a team-high 16 points. “Last year we had to learn how to lose and just try to be in every game. This year we need to learn how to win.”
Finishing proved to be a problem — a big problem.
Sacramento State rallied from 13 points down with just over 12 minutes remaining to prevail. The Hornets capped the comeback with some key baskets and rebounds down the stretch. They took the lead for good on a jumper by Dylan Garrity with 1:27 left to play.
Trailing 72-71, Utah’s Dallin Bachynski missed the front end of a one-and-one with 51.1 seconds to go and Sacramento State’s Joe Eberhard grabbed the rebound. The 6-foot-6 swingman later pulled down a pivotal offensive board on a missed 3-point attempt as the shot clock wound down. Eberhard was fouled on the play and made two foul shots with 12.3 seconds remaining to close out all scoring in the game.
Dean had two shots to tie it in the final 3.5 seconds. His first 3-point attempt was blocked by Mikh McKinney of the Hornets and the second missed the mark as time expired.
“The big thing for us is we’ve got to learn how to win — put yourself in a position where its got to be the same sense of urgency on every possession,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who thought the turning point came when Sacramento State starting hitting shots and the Utes abandoned their plan to get the ball inside for high-percentage opportunities.
Krystowiak was also disappointed that his team was outrebounded 38-34. Same goes for missed free throws and other shortcomings.
“There are no little things,” he said.
The loss proved to be somewhat educational.
“I think it taught us a lesson that we’re not as good as we thought we were,” said senior Cedric Martin. “We need to make sure we stay in the gym and put in the work and make sure our heads are where they should be — all cockiness aside, just throw that away and just play our game.”
Win or lose, Bachynski added, the Utes have to learn something from every game.
After six lead changes and three ties, Utah held a 38-34 advantage at halftime. Dean led the Utes with 13 points. Bachynski had seven rebounds at the break, while Martin had five assists and three steals.
Utah used a 14-4 run to take a nine-point lead late in the half. However, Sacramento State responded with five-straight points to prevent the Utes from pulling away.
“At the end of the day we just need to know how to buckle down and take the game,” Martin noted.
The Utes return to action next week with their Thanksgiving tournament at the Huntsman Center. They’ll face Idaho State on Wednesday (7 p.m.), Central Michigan on Friday (5 p.m.) and Wright State on Saturday (7:30 p.m.).
GAME NOTES: The attendance was 6,263. ... Sacramento State’s Garrity led all scorers with 19 points. ... Utah freshman Jordan Loveridge fouled out in 18 minutes of play. He finished with just four points on 2-of-6 shooting. ... Jarred DuBois had 13 points for the Utes. Renan Lenz added 10.
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