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Jan. 25, 2007 Game Notes vs. Eastern Washington
MEN'S BASKETBALL BEGINS THREE GAME HOMESTAND THURSDAY VS. EASTERN WASHINGTON
A Brief Preview
In the midst of a season worst four-game losing streak, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team (7-12, 2-4) embarks upon its biggest stretch of the season this week. Beginning with Thursday’s game against Eastern Washington (Hornets Nest, 7:05 p.m. tip), the Hornets will play each of their next three Big Sky Conference games at home. The homestand, which is the team’s longest of the season, also includes games against Portland State (Friday, Jan. 26) and Northern Colorado (Jan. 31).
Since beating Northern Colorado on Dec. 30 and Montana on Jan. 4 to improve to 2-1 in the Big Sky, the Hornets have lost each of their last three conference games by an average of 19.3 points per game. The Hornets need to begin making up ground in the Big Sky standings this week to hop back in the race for a berth into the Big Sky Tournament. The top six teams in the nine-member league advance to the Big Sky Tournament, and the Hornets are currently in eighth place, behind Montana and Montana State who are tied for sixth with a 3-3 record. Sacramento State is one of three teams that have reached the Big Sky’s postseason event each of the last four years (Montana and Eastern Washington are the others).
By the time the Hornets and Eagles (10-10, 4-4) tip off on Thursday night, Sacramento State will have gone eight days without playing a game. The team lost at Cal Poly (74-65) in the final non-conference game of the season last Tuesday, Jan. 16. That game marked the Hornets’ fourth loss in a row and some alarming numbers have jumped off the page during the four-game stretch.
During the losing streak, opponents are shooting a robust 58.4 percent (115-197) from the field, .480 (24-50) from the three-point line, and are outrebounding the Hornets by nearly 12 rebounds per game (42.0-30.3). Conversely, Sacramento State is shooting just 34.9 percent (94-269) over the last four games, including 26.0 percent (26-100) from beyond the arc. Including a season-low .311 mark at Cal Poly, the Hornets have shot worse than 37.0 percent each of the last four games after shooting better than .370 in 11 of the first 15 games of the season.
Thursday will mark the first meeting of the season between Sacramento State and Eastern Washington. The Eagles and Hornets split two games last season, with each team winning on its home floor. EWU holds a 17-7 record in the all-time series, including a 6-5 mark in Sacramento. However, the Hornets have won three of the last four meetings inside the friendly confines. Eastern Washington features reigning Big Sky MVP Rodney Stuckey. Just a sophomore, Stuckey has led the Eagles in scoring in all but three games this season and ranks first in the conference and sixth in the nation with an average of 23.4 points per game.
Thursday’s game will be an internet broadcast only on www.hornetsports.com with Steve McElroy and Jason Ross calling all the action. McElroy returns for his 10th season as radio voice of Hornet basketball.
Prior to shooting 5-of-8 from the field at Cal Poly, Davon Roberts had been perfect from the field in seven straight games, a span of 13 consecutive made baskets. That number stretched to 14 after converting his first field goal attempt against Cal Poly before missing his second attempt.
Still, Roberts is shooting .857 (18-21) from the field over his last eight games, and he made at least one bucket in each of those contests.
A 6-6, 205-pound power forward with tremendous athletic ability, Roberts gets the majority of his buckets on putbacks after an offensive rebound. In fact, 42 of Roberts’ 66 rebounds this season have come on the offensive glass.
He is now shooting a team-best 65.5 percent (38-58) from the field, and is on pace to shatter the Hornet Div. I (1991-pres.) record for season field goal percentage (.559), a mark he set last season.
Consistently one of the most athletic teams in the Big Sky, Sacramento State has led the Big Sky Conference in steals every year since Jerome Jenkins became head coach of the program in 2000-01 (a span of six consecutive years). That doesn’t figure to change this season as the team is easily leading the conference with 10.74 steals per game. That mark is on pace to set the program record of 9.96, set in both 2000-01 and 2004-05.
The Hornets have forced at least 19 turnovers in five of the last seven games and 13 times overall. That includes opponents turning the ball over at least 20 times on 11 occasions. Sacramento State now leads the Big Sky in turnover margin at +5.58 per game. The next closest team in the Big Sky is Portland State at +2.81.
Sacramento State head coach Jerome Jenkins has used a different starting lineup each of the last four games trying to find a good combination of players to right the ship. Against Cal Poly, Jenkins started little-used Curtis Harrison at center and freshman point guard Alonzo Young in the starting lineup for the first time all season.
With Harrison and Young making their first starts, 11 of the team’s 12 players have now started at least one game this season. Senior forward Alex Bausley has been the only constant in the starting lineup every games this year.
Jenkins has now used eight different starting lineups this season, including the fivesome of Bausley, Angel Alamo, Haron Hargrave, Rod Adams and Loren Leath producing a 4-4 record.
After missing the first three games of the season, senior combo guard Haron Hargrave has been the team’s top scorer, currently averaging 14.6 points. In addition, he is averaging 5.0 trips to the free throw line per game, converting on 80.0 percent (64-80) from the charity stripe.
Including his last second, buzzer beating three-pointer in the Hornets’ overtime win against Pacific, the Queens, N.Y., native has scored in double figures 11 times and has led the team in scoring seven times in the last 10 games. That also features four 20-point games, including a career-high 31 at Denver when he went 8-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc.
Among Big Sky leaders (all games), Hargrave is fifth in steals (1.56 spg), sixth in three-pointers (2.13 per game), and seventh in free throw percentage (.800), scoring (14.6 ppg) and minutes played (31.3 per game) and steals (1.60 spg).