The Sacramento State men’s basketball team fell short in a loss to the University of Montana tonight at home, despite some last second heroics from nationally acclaimed point guard Dylan Garrity.
A 61-60 loss stopped the Hornets (6-4, 1-1) from having their best record for the first time since the program entered into Division I play in 1991. After a first half marred by bad shooting where Sac State only shot a dismal 25 percent from the field, the Hornets found themselves down by only five points at the half.
“(In the first half), we were our own worst enemy,” said head coach Brian Katz. “We missed easy shots. We weren’t ready to catch the ball and score. It was so frustrating because we are better than that.”
The Hornets’ defense allowed them to stay in the game. After Montana opened the game making 7 of their first 12 shots, the Sac State defense clamped down. The Grizzles closed the half connecting only three of their next 13 shots.
Sac State went nearly three minutes without a field goal while Montana went on an 11-4 run that extended its lead to 13 midway through the half.
However, the Hornets slowly started to whittle away at the Grizzlies’ lead, diminishing it from 11 to seven within two minutes.
Down by seven points with 1:07 left in the game, Katz instructed his players to foul Montana as soon as its players got the ball.
After Montana’s Jordan Gregory made two free throws, Sac State quickly moved the ball down court, where true freshman Cody Demps was waiting on the right wing. Demps grabbed the pass, set his feet and drained the 3-pointer.
With Sac State down by three and Garrity with the ball in his hands, he rose up from beyond the arc, nailing the game tying 3-pointer with seven seconds left in the game and the crowd erupted.
“When I made the shot it was so surreal,” Garrity said, who scored five of his 12 points in the final minute. “I have never felt so many different emotions rush into my head so fast, but then I had to get back and think about playing defense.”
On the ensuing possession, Montana guard Will Cherry drove the ball toward the hoop and was fouled, putting him on the free-throw line with two seconds left in the game. Cherry made the first free throw and missed the second.
On the second miss, Garrity snagged the rebound and put up a desperate full-court shot, but came up short.
“It was hard (after such a bad first half),” said senior Konner Veteto. “We came back and fought the whole way. If we were just a little bit better in the beginning, we would have won.”
Veteto ended the night with a double-double. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior John Dickson was the Hornets’ leading scorer with 15 points and he also had seven rebounds including five offensive boards.
The Hornets will have to sit on this loss for a while as they head into the new year, and they will continue conference play on the road against Northern Arizona, Jan 3.
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