A Brief Preview
After a season-high tying three-game road trip that spanned two weeks, the Sacramento State men''s basketball squad (14-9, 5-4) returns to the friendly confines this week for games against Weber State (Thursday, Feb. 9, 7:05 p.m.) and Idaho State (Saturday, Feb. 11, 7:05 p.m.). The Hornets, who won their first four conference games of the season before dropping the next four, improved to 5-4 this past Saturday with its first-ever road victory at Portland State. Sacramento State has now won its first-ever road games at Portland State, Weber State and San Francisco this year. In fact, the Hornets entered the year a combined 0-27 against those three teams on the road.
Coupled with the Hornets'' 73-66 win at Weber State on Jan. 14, Sacramento State will look to complete its first-ever season sweep of the Wildcats on Thursday. The Hornets have won three of the previous four regular-season games between the two teams after losing the first 18 meetings in the series. Weber State (9-13, 3-6), which has reached at least the semifinal round of the Big Sky Tournament each of the past five years, has been a thorn in Sacramento State''s side in the postseason. The Wildcats have defeated the Hornets three-straight years in the Big Sky Tournament, including quarterfinal round victories on Sacramento State''s home floor the last two years.
Like every game this season, Thursday''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.
The Hornets will bring a 7-2 home record into Thursday night''s contest with each of those seven victories coming by at least nine points. However, the Hornets have lost their last two home games by a combined five points (78-75 vs. Montana State; 73-71 vs. Montana). Those two losses marked just the second time in four years the team had been swept in a Big Sky two-game homestand.
Sacramento State is now assured of finishing with a regular-season winning percentage of at least .500 for the first time since the 1988-89 season. In addition, the Hornets'' 14 victories are the most in the Div. I era (1991-pres.) and the most since 1989-90. Sacramento State''s 5-4 Big Sky record is the best after nine games since joining the league in 1996-97, and the team''s seven wins away from home are the most since 1987-88.
Saturday''s win at Portland State allowed the Hornets to make up ground on the top three teams in the conference because Northern Arizona (8-1), Montana (6-3) and Montana State (6-3) each lost that night. With five games remaining on the schedule, the Hornets are tied with Eastern Washington (5-4) for fourth place, sitting just one game back of the second-place Montana schools. Weber State currently holds the sixth and final spot into the conference tournament with a 3-6 record, one game ahead of Idaho State (2-7).
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. If the season ended today, Eastern Washington would own the tiebreaker over the Hornets (by virtue of defeating first-place Northern Arizona on Saturday), and host Sacramento State in a Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal game.
After failing to reach the Big Sky Tournament each of its first six years in the league, Sacramento State has qualified for the postseason tournament each of the last three years but has yet to advance past the semifinal round.
After losing its first six games of the conference season, Weber State has caught fire over the last two weeks. In fact, the Wildcats have the longest active winning streak in the Big Sky with three-consecutive victories. Those include home wins over Idaho State (66-61), Montana (72-67) and Montana State (67-56). WSU, however, has struggled on the road this year, posting a 2-8 record. The team has lost five straight on the road with each of those losses coming by six points or more.
The Wildcats, who average a Big Sky low 65.0 points per game, are shooting 43.6 percent (495-1136) from the field and 33.9 percent (106-313) from beyond the three-point arc. The Wildcats'' leading scorers are Coric Riggs (14.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg), David Patten (11.2 pg, 5.0 rpg) and Terrell Stovall (9.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg). In the Wildcats'' meeting with Sacramento State earlier this year, the trio of Riggs (12 points, 11 rebounds), Patten (15 points) and Stovall (12) combined for 39 of the team''s 66 points.
For all 13 pages of Sacramento State''s game notes, click on the link above the story.