IRVINE, Calif. -- Sacramento State senior co-captains Dylan Garrity (18) and Mikh McKinney (17) combined for 35 points, but it was not enough in the Hornets' 74-62 loss at UC Irvine in a non-conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at the Bren Events Center.
After beginning the season with a 4-1 record, the Hornets have lost two straight (including Thursday night at Abilene Christian) to fall to 4-3. Tonight ended a stretch which saw Sacramento State play three games over a six-day span.
UC Irvine (4-3), which advanced to the NIT last season and was selected to win the Big West Conference in both the media and coaches preseason polls, has now won 29 of its last 34 games at home. The Anteaters have won the past three matchups against the Hornets and own a 3-2 record in the all-time series between the two teams.
UC Irvine led for nearly 37 minutes in the game, opening up a lead as large as 20 points with 4:53 to play before finishing with a 12-point victory. After the Hornets took a 7-5 lead on one of Garrity's game-high four 3-pointers with 17:02 left in the first half, UC Irvine ripped off a 17-6 run over the next seven minutes to take a 22-13 lead.
Sacramento State cut that lead to six points at the 7:25 mark of the first half and trailed by just seven points (34-27) at halftime, but the Anteaters used an 8-4 run to open the second half and led by double figures the final 15:13 of the contest.
UC Irvine held large advantages in points in the paint (46-18), points off turnovers (19-7) and second-chance points (22-8). The Anteaters seemingly turned every one of their 13 offensive rebounds into points, including 17 of those 22 second-chance tallies coming in the second half.
Sacramento State shot .412 (21-51) from the field, .467 (7-15) from the 3-point line and .813 (13-16) from the free throw line. The Hornets had nine offensive rebounds of their own, but turned those opportunities into just eight points. The Anteaters shot .508 (32-63) from the field, .750 (6-8) from the free throw line, and held a 36-28 advantage in the rebounding department.
For Garrity, his game-high 18 points came on just eight attempts from the field. The fourth-year senior, who became the 12th player in school history to score 1,000 points on Thursday night, finished the game 5-of-8 from the floor, 4-of-6 from the 3-point line and 4-for-4 from the free throw line in 30 minutes of play. Garrity has now tallied at least two 3-pointers in every game this season, and improved his season 3-point percentage to .425 (17-40).
McKinney scored in double figures for the fourth straight game and is now averaging 15.8 points per contest (fifth best in the Big Sky Conference). The third-year senior finished with 17 points, four assists and two steals in 38 minutes. Playing with a dislocated pinky on his left (non-shooting) hand didn't seem to affect McKinney as he was 6-for-10 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
A native of Irvine, sophomore Nick Hornsby returned to his hometown and finished with eight points, four rebounds and a steal while sophomore Eric Stuteville had four points and a game-high nine rebounds. Four of the Hornets' five starters (McKinney, Garrity, Hornsby and Cody Demps) played at least 30 minutes in the contest.
Alex Tiffin added five points and three rebounds, and nine of the 12 Hornets that appeared in tonight's game cracked into the scoring column.
Three Anteaters scored in double figures, comprised of John Ryan (14 points, seven rebounds), Alex Young (13 points, four assists) and Ioannis Dimakopoulos (11 points). UC Irvine shot just 4-of-21 from the 3-point line, but made up for the lack of perimeter shooting with second-chance points and turning 15 Sacramento State turnovers into 19 points.
The Hornets return home for a pair of games next week, including Thursday night against Cal State Fullerton at 7:05 p.m., and Sunday evening against Portland at 5:05 p.m. Sacramento State is 3-0 at home this year, and has won those games by an average of 25.0 points per contest.