MENâ€™S BASKETBALL SWEEPS ROAD TRIP, WINS THIRD IN A ROW WITH VICTORY OVER EASTERN WASHINGTON
Junior Joe Eberhard scored a season-high 21 points while adding nine rebounds in 39 minutes of play
CHENEY, Wash. -- Sacramento State’s Joe Eberhard (21) and John Dickson (20) combined for 41 points to lead the Hornets to a 75-71 victory over Eastern Washington in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Saturday evening at Reese Court.
Not only did the Hornets win their third game in a row, the team also snapped a 15-game losing streak when playing on Eastern Washington’s home floor, a drought which dated back to Jan. 19, 1995. Coupled with Thursday’s win at Northern Colorado, Sacramento State swept its first Big Sky road trip since Jan. 12-14, 2006, when the Hornets beat Idaho State and Weber State back-to-back on the road. In addition, the Hornets have now won three straight games for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
What seemed nearly impossible early last week after Sacramento State (8-14, 3-8) lost to Weber State to fall to 0-8 in the conference, the Hornets now have life as far as challenging for a Big Sky Tournament berth. The top six teams in the nine-member league qualify for the league’s postseason event, and Sacramento State is two games back of both Portland State (5-6) and Eastern Washington (5-6), who are tied for fifth place. Only five games remain on the Hornets’ conference schedule, but three of those games are at home.
"Our guys are starting to figure out how to be the aggressive team night in and night out," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "Over the last few games, they are playing with fire and pure aggression, and the most aggressive team is going to win 99 percent of the time."
Sacramento State never trailed against Eastern Washington, opening up a lead as large as 19 points, which was the halftime margin (40-21) after Eberhard buried a three-pointer as the first half buzzer sounded. In fact, the Hornets led by double figures a good portion of the game, and things looked great after Dickson buried a three-pointer to put the Hornets up 18 points (57-39) with 9:27 to play.
However, the Eagles immediately responded with an 11-0 run over the next 5:27 to shave the lead all the way down to 57-50 with four minutes remaining. A Dickson jumper mercifully ended the run with 3:33 to play, and the Hornets were back up nine points, and eventually pushed to 11 points (63-52) with 2:22 left.
Eastern Washington would score at least one point on its next nine possessions to make things interesting. After Cliff Colimon buried three free throws to get the Eagles within three points with 36 seconds to play, the Hornets put the game away by converting on 9-of-10 from the free throw line over the final 35 seconds. Five of those free throws came from Eberhard, and true freshman Dylan Garrity finally iced the victory by making a pair with two seconds left that provided the final margin of victory.
With the loss, the Eagles, who beat the Hornets earlier this year in Sacramento (65-60), dropped to 11-13 overall and 5-6 in the Big Sky. Eastern Washington lost tonight’s game despite finishing with more points in the paint (32-20), points off turnovers (12-10) and second-chance points (21-10).
Eberhard’s 21 points were a season high, and he also added a team-high nine rebounds while playing all but one minute. The junior swingman finished 4-of-6 from the field, 3-of-4 from distance and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Dickson notched his fifth 20-point game of the season as the third-year player also added seven rebounds and season highs in both blocked shots (3) and three-pointers (3).
Joining Eberhard and Dickson in double figures was Garrity, who had 12 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals in 38 minutes. Center Josh McCarver added nine points and four rebounds and swingman Heath Hoffman had six points, including two big free throws with eight seconds to play. As a team, the Hornets shot 46.7 percent (21-45) from the field, 45.0 percent (9-20) from the three-point line and 64.9 percent (24-37) from the free throw line.
Eastern Washington, which outscored Sacramento State in the second half, 50-35, was led by Cliff Ederaine’s 15 points and 18 rebounds. Cliff Colimon added 25 points, including 20 after halftime. The Hornets' Jordan Estrada and Heath Hoffman combined defensively to hold the Eagles' Collin Chiverton to zero points and just two shots. In fact, Chiverton, who entered the game as the Big Sky's third leading scorer (16.9 ppg), was relegated to the bench the entire second half.
The Hornets will now turn their attention to a huge two-game conference homestand next week against Montana State (Feb. 9) and Montana (Feb. 11).