A Brief Preview
In the midst of a season-worst four-game losing streak, the Sacramento State men''s basketball squad (13-9, 4-4) looks to get back on the winning track on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Portland State. The Hornets and Vikings will tip off at 7:05 p.m. at the Stott Center in Portland, Ore. The Hornets have struggled against the Vikings on the road, going winless in 10 games in Portland (including 0-7 at the Stott Center, 0-2 at Memorial Coliseum and 0-1 at the Rose Garden). However, four of Sacramento State''s last five losses in Portland have come by four points or less.
After beginning the year with a 13-5 overall record and a 4-0 mark in the Big Sky, the Hornets have endured four-consecutive setbacks. That includes losing a two-game Big Sky homestand (78-75 loss to Montana State, 73-71 loss to Montana) for just the second time in four years. Two major reasons for the Hornets'' losing streak has been the team''s lack of defense and rebounding. In fact, during the losing streak, opponents are shooting .525 (107-204) from the field and are outrebounding Sacramento State by almost 10 rebounds per game (37.8-28.0). Even with those numbers, the Hornets have still been within striking distance in each of the four games. Although Sacramento State lost by 12 points at Eastern Washington (87-75) on Thursday, the Hornets were trailing by just one point with 2:41 to play.
Sacramento State had not suffered a multiple-game losing streak all season prior to the past few weeks and the team''s 13-9 record is still its best after 22 games during the Div. I era (1991-pres.) and the best since 1988-89. The Hornets, who are one win shy of the team''s first regular-season winning percentage of at least .500 during the Div. I era, will bring a 6-7 record away from home into Saturday''s game. One more road win would give the Hornets their most victories away from home since the 1987-88 season.
Like every game this season, Saturday''s contest can be heard live on KTKZ 1380 AM and 105.5 FM as well as www.hornetsports.com. Steve McElroy, who is currently in his ninth season as voice of the Hornets, will handle the play-by-play.
Eight games into the Big Sky Conference season, Northern Arizona currently sits in first place with a perfect 8-0 record (including a 65-63 victory in Portland on Thursday) and each of those victories have come by 10 points or less. Following NAU in the Big Sky standings are Montana (6-2), Montana State (6-2), Sacramento State (4-4) and Eastern Washington (4-4). Weber State (2-6), Portland State (1-7) and Idaho State (1-7) appear to be battling each other for the sixth and final spot into the Big Sky Tournament, which begins on March 4. With six league games remaining on the schedule, the top two seeds in the Big Sky Tournament get a first-round bye, while the No. 3 seed hosts the No. 6 seed, and No. 4 hosts No. 5 in the quarterfinals. The Hornets would face the Eagles in the Big Sky Tournament Quarterfinals if the season ended today.
Portland State will bring an 8-13 overall record and a 1-7 mark into Saturday''s game. Like the Hornets, the Vikings have lost a season-high four-straight games. Among those four defeats, three were lost in heart breaking fashion, including a 68-66 loss at home to Weber State (Jan. 19), a 69-68 road loss to Montana State (Jan. 28) and Thursday''s 65-63 home loss to Northern Arizona.
The Vikings'' only victory during conference play came at home over Weber State (73-59). Portland State, which won at Oregon (54-52) and fell at Gonzaga by just nine points earlier this year, is 4-4 at home this year, but have lost three of its last four in the friendly confines.
The Hornets have already defeated Portland State earlier this season in Sacramento (Jan. 5) by the score of 76-60. Sacramento State led by double figures during the final 8:45 of the game as junior Alex Bausley finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. In that meeting, the Hornets forced Portland State into 24 turnovers and knocked down 11 three-pointers.
PSU has five players averaging more than nine points per game, comprised of Jake Schroeder (12.5), Juma Kamara (11.1), Ryan Sommer (9.6), Anthony Washington (9.4) and Scott Morrison (9.2). The Vikings won last year''s Big Sky regular-season championship, but lost seven players from that team, including three starters.
All 12 page of Sacramento State''s game notes can be accessed by clicking on the link above the story.