MEN'S BASKETBALL BEGINS ROAD TRIP SATURDAY AT IDAHO STATE
A Brief Preview
After a disheartening 84-81 home loss to Northern Colorado on Wednesday, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team (8-14, 3-6 Big Sky Conference) begins a grueling three-game road trip Saturday evening against Idaho State. Tip-off at Holt Arena is 6:05 p.m. PST. Beginning with the matchup against the Bengals, the Hornets will play three road games in a span of six days, including back-to-back contests at Montana (Feb. 7) and Montana State (Feb. 8).
Currently in eighth place in the league standings, Sacramento State is still fighting for a Big Sky Tournament berth with seven games remaining in the regular season. The top six teams in the nine-member league reach the Big Sky’s postseason event, a place the Hornets have been each of the last four years. Although the team has lost six of its last seven games, Sacramento State is still just two games back of four teams that are tied for third place with 5-4 or 6-5 records (Montana, Idaho State, Montana State and Portland State).
However, the Hornets will have to make up ground on the road, a place that has not been kind thus far. Sacramento State is 2-9 away from home, with both wins taking place in the state of Colorado. All nine road losses have come by at least nine points, including an 88-68 loss to Weber State in the team’s last Big Sky road game on Jan. 11. Sacramento State will play five of its last seven games on the road, finishing the regular season at home on Feb. 26 against Weber State.
After a home victory over Montana on Jan. 4, the Hornets were 7-8 overall and 2-1 in the Big Sky. However, since that time, Sacramento State has dropped six of seven games and some alarming numbers have popped up during that stretch. Over the team’s last seven games, the Hornets are allowing opponents to shoot 54.5 percent (204-374) from the field, and the team is being outrebounded by more than 12 boards per game (42.6-30.4). In addition, the Hornets are shooting under .400 from the floor (.399) over that stretch. From beyond the three-point line, the team is shooting an even worse 30.6 percent (53-173) while averaging 24.7 three-point attempts per game.
Idaho State will enter Saturday’s game with a 10-12 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the Big Sky. After winning their first five Big Sky games, the Bengals have dropped four in a row, including a 102-98 double overtime loss to Northern Arizona on Thursday. Idaho State, which has lost three games by four points or less during the losing streak, wraps up a season-long four game homestand with Saturday’s game against Sacramento State. Under first-year head coach Joe O’Brien, the Bengals have made big improvement after combining for a 7-21 conference record and missing the Big Sky Tournament each of the last two years.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on www.hornetsports.com and www.bigskytv.org with Steve McElroy calling all the action. McElroy is in his 10th season as radio voice of Hornet basketball.
Last Game vs. Idaho State
Idaho State’s John Ofoegbu (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Nicholas Rhodes (13 points, 11 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles to lead the Bengals to a 73-58 victory over Sacramento State last Saturday at the Hornets Nest.
The Bengals outrebounded the Hornets, 49-18, while limiting Sacramento State to a .367 field goal percentage (22-60). Rhodes’ eight offensive rebounds were more than Sacramento State had offensively as an entire team.
Four players scored in double figures for Idaho State, comprised of Ofoegbu, Rhodes, David Schroeder (14 points, five rebounds) and Akbar Abdul-Ahad (12 points). The story was rebounding as seven different Bengals had more than two rebounds. In contrast, Sacramento State had just one player with more than two rebounds (Alex Bausley finished with six).
More than half of Sacramento State’s field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, as the team finished 9-of-32, including five from Loren Leath. The sophomore shooting guard finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-12 from distance. Leath was the only Hornet in double figures as Bausley finished with eight points and a game-high three steals. The Hornets forced Idaho State into 22 turnovers, including five on the Bengals’ first five possessions of the game.
Sacramento State took its final lead of the game at 4-2 on a jumper from senior Haron Hargrave. After that, it was all Idaho State as the Bengals went on a 27-9 run over the next 10 minutes to take a 29-13 lead with 6:13 remaining in the first half. Sparked by three-pointers from Leath, Bausley and Kris Groce, Sacramento State closed the half on a 15-4 run to draw back within striking distance and trail at halftime, 33-28.
However, the Bengals opened the second half on a 20-4 run, giving the team a game-high 21-point lead (53-32) with 12:12 remaining in the contest. Sacramento State got as close as 10 points (66-56 with 1:26 remaining), but Idaho State went 7-of-8 from the free throw line over the final 1:16 to put the game away.
The Bengals went to the free throw line 26 times (converting 18), compared to just eight attempts for the Hornets.
For Sacramento State''s complete set of game notes, click on the link above the story.