SALT LAKE CITY – The Runnin’ Utes basketball team played their final game before going into the PAC12 conference schedule Saturday at the Huntsman Center in Satlt Lake City. Utah’s opponent for the day was the St. Katherine Firebirds out of San Diego. The Firebirds flew in Saturday morning for their 2:00 PM matchup having played the night before against the 20th ranked SDSU Aztecs where they were defeated by 80 points. The tired and road whery team hustled and tried until the final buzzer but came up short losing to the Utes 124-51. With the win, the Utes extended their home winning streak to 13 games and improve their overall record to 11-1 in front of a crowd listed at 9,994.
The Utes were led by Jordan Loveridge scored 17 points and Dakarai Tucker added 14 points. A highlight for the Utes was playing time well earned by Ahmad Fields who put in 13 points. All of the Utah backups go in on the action with Parker Van Dyke scoring 11 and Dallin Bachynski 10 as the Utes shot 67 percent from the field. Delon Wright posted 15 rebounds and six assists against the Firebirds, who fell to 2-13.
Alex Perez scored 13 points for St. Katherine, an NAIA school playing its debut season. The school itself being established in 2010 with the school enrollment is listed as 102. The four games the Firebirds have played against Division 1 schools have resulted in losses with an average margin of 70 points. The Firebirds attempted 39 three-pointers making only 8.
Big news from the contest was the playing of Marko Kovacevic, Utah’s 6-foot-11 post player who just recently began practicing after a broken wrist. The Ute coaching staff had been considering redshirting the junior transfer from Western Nebraska Community College. He and head coach Larry Krystkowiak talked and determined since Kovacevic also sat out last year he may not redshirt this year to avoid sitting out two years. The decision was solidified when Marko entered the game in the first half and played eight minutes. He finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Utah plays next in PAC12 play against the 10th ranked Oregon Ducks on Thursday.