SALT LAKE CITY — Every four years, everybody is given an extra 24 hours to make their own. But for the Runnin’ Utes, they needed even more time in a 86-79 overtime loss on the road to California.
Utah (15-14, 6-11), which has one game left to the regular season, failed to win a road game in conference play despite a strong nonconference showing earlier in the season.
The Utes made it interesting at the end of regulation, though, as California (13-16,7-9) controlled a then game-high 6-point lead with 1:49 left to play in the fourth quarter. Utah eventually made a small comeback that was capped off by an Alfonso Plummer 3-pointer to make it a 1-point game with 10.3 seconds left.
Utah immediately fouled California’s Paris Austin on the inbound play, but Austin only made his first free throw and Utah’s Timmy Allen grabbed the rebound before dishing it off to Both Gach, who went coast-to-coast for a layup and foul. But the refs said the foul occurred before the bucket and the points were nullified.
Nevertheless, Gach went to the charity stripe and drilled both free throws to send the game into overtime.
But it was in overtime where it all fell apart for the Utes. Gach made an early jumper before fouling out seconds later, and it would be the only bucket of the bonus time made by Utah before Plummer hit a meaningless 3-pointer with four seconds left in the game and Utah already trailed by 10.
Gach has struggled to have an impact on the floor since sustaining an injury midway through conference play, but he had a breakout performance against the Golden Bears in the loss. The sophomore guard finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists as the team’s third-leading scorer and key to the late run.
But it was Allen and Plummer who established themselves throughout the game and kept Utah in the game. Allen took over in the final minutes of regulation to score a team-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and also collected eight rebounds and three assists. Allen was limited defensively in the final minutes of the game, though, after he picked up his fourth foul.
Plummer finished with a career-high 23 points, which included making five of the team’s seven 3-pointers on the night, to give Utah a viable scoring guard on the court after freshman guard Ryaln Jones left the game four minutes into the contest after sustaining an injury after teammate Branden Carlson landed on him.
Both Gach’s end-of-regulation basket that didn’t count. Should it have been continuation or was the foul before? https://t.co/Wox7FVrutS— Josh Furlong (@JFurKSL) March 1, 2020
Both teams opened up the game shooting poorly from the field, but California controlled an early 8-2 run before Utah reeled off an 8-0 run to tie the game. The two traded baskets for the remainder of the half, and Utah took a 4-point lead in the halftime break behind a 12-1 run over the last four minutes of play.
The two teams continued to trade baskets in the second half, with neither team really able to establish dominance; however, California pulled away late and took a 6-point lead before Utah made its improbable run to tie up the game.
The Golden Bears’ Matt Bradley led the team in scoring with 21 points and five rebounds before fouling out of the game in overtime. Bradley only had 7 points in the first half, but was a thorn in Utah’s side in the second half as he continued to answer every Utah attempt to take a lead.
California had three other players — Grant Anticevich (17 points), Andre Kelly (15 points) and Austin (15 points) — score in double figures in the win.
Utah closes out the regular season against Colorado at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 7 at 12:30 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.