MEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYS SECOND OF BACK-TO-BACK TONIGHT AT MONTANA STATE
A Brief Preview
Playing the final leg of a three-game road trip, and the second game in as many days, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team (8-16, 3-8) returns to action today when the team travels to Bozeman, Mont., for a matchup with Montana State (9-14, 6-4). The Hornets were in Missoula, Mont., last night where the team was outscored 6-0 over the final 59 seconds before finally losing to Montana, 76-69.
Tonight’s game marks the second back-to-back scenario the Hornets will have faced since Big Sky play began. Sacramento State split its last back-to-back, losing to Eastern Washington on Jan. 25 before defeating Portland State at home on Jan. 26. Sacramento State and Weber State are the only two teams in the Big Sky that have been asked to play a pair of back-to-backs this season.
The Hornets have lost eight of their last nine games and six of those losses have come by double digits. Over the nine-game stretch, the team has struggled in three of the most important aspects of basketball – offense, defense and rebounding. Sacramento State is shooting just 39.1 percent (233-596) from the field while allowing the opposition to shoot 54.3 percent (259-477). In addition, the team is being outrebounded by 11.4 boards per game (42.2-30.8) and opponents are shooting 43.1 percent (50-116) from beyond the three-point arc. Four of the losses during the slide have come at home against Big Sky competition.
In addition, the second half has been extremely rough on the Hornets during the last nine games. Sacramento State has been within striking distance in nearly every game, but opponents are shooting .603 (135-224) in the second half compared to just a .362 mark (112-309) for the Hornets.
Sacramento State, which at one point was 7-8 overall and 2-1 in the Big Sky after a home victory over Montana on Jan. 4, is now 2.5 games back of the sixth and final Big Sky Tournament spot with five games remaining on the regular season schedule. If the Hornets want to reach the Big Sky’s postseason event for the fifth consecutive year, the team needs to start making up ground immediately, beginning tonight at Montana State.
The Hornets have had success in Bozeman, defeating the Bobcats three times in the teams’ last five meetings on MSU’s home floor. That includes a 71-70 victory in last year’s Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals. Both of the Hornets’ losses in Bozeman over that stretch have come by five points or less. Overall, the Hornets are 10-17 all-time against Montana State, and have won six of the last nine meetings in the series. Tonight’s meeting marks the first of two straight games against Montana State, as the Bobcats will play the Hornets in Sacramento next week on Valentine’s Day.
Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on KSAC 1240 AM, hornetsports.com and bigskytv.org with Steve McElroy calling all the action. McElroy is in his 10th season as radio voice of Hornet basketball.
Last Two Meetings at Montana State
Alex Bausley scored a game-high 16 points to lead four Hornets in double figures as Sacramento State knocked off Montana State, 71-70, in the Big Sky Tournament Quarterfinals on March 4, 2006.
With the Hornets trailing, 60-59, with 3:10 to play, Sacramento State received back-to-back three-pointers from Loren Leath and Clark Woods to give the team its largest lead of the game at five points (65-60) with 2:17 to play. Montana State cut the lead to two points on three occasions, but a jumper from Bausley (0:42) and four clutch free throws from DaShawn Freeman at the 0:11 second mark and at the 0:06 mark put the game away. Montana State’s Ja’Ron Jefferson hit a three-pointer at the buzzer the margin of victory.
Joining Bausley in double figures for the Hornets were Leath (13 points, four rebounds), Freeman (12 points, five assists and two steals) and Justin Williams (season-high 12 points).
Sacramento State blew a 17-point first half lead on the way to a 75-70 loss at Montana State in the regular season finale on Feb. 27, 2006 at Worthington Arena.
The Hornets led, 31-14, with 5:39 remaining in the first half, but could not hold the lead down the stretch. Montana State had already cut the deficit to eight points by halftime and the Hornets went 5-for-17 (.294) the field and 2-for-9 (.222) from the free-throw line over the final 8:25 of the second half to aid the Bobcats’ come-from-behind victory. After Davon Roberts knocked down two free throws to put Sacramento State up 12 points (56-44) with 8:26 to play, MSU closed the game on a 31-14 run.
Sacramento State shot a season-low 48.3 percent (14-29) from the free-throw line, went just 6-of-24 (25.0 percent) from beyond the three-point arc and shot 35.3 percent (12-34) from the field in the second half. The Hornets were outscored in the second half by a 48-35 margin.
For Sacramento State's complete set of game notes, click on the link above the story.