MENâ€™S BASKETBALL RECORDS A SEASON HIGH 18 STEALS IN VICTORY OVER MONTANA STATE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State tallied a season-high 18 steals - three shy of the school record - and forced Montana State into 26 turnovers on the way to a 90-82 victory over the Bobcats in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Wednesday evening at the Hornets Nest.
Three Hornets had at least four steals, comprised of junior Roderick Adams (5), and seniors Alex Bausley (4) and Haron Hargrave (4). Sacramento State also shot 47.8 percent (32-67) from the field and converted nine free throws in its final 11 attempts spanning the last 1:32 to put the game away.
Sacramento State was able to snap its four-game losing streak and keep its slim Big Sky Tournament playoff hopes alive. The Hornets improved to 9-17 overall and 4-9 in the Big Sky. With three games remaining on the regular season schedule, Sacramento State is currently in eighth place in the conference standings, 2.5 games behind sixth-place Portland State (7-7). The top six teams in the nine-member league advance to the conference’s postseason event, a place the Hornets have been each of the last four years.
To make it there a fifth straight year, Sacramento State will have to win each of its final three games, hope for two Portland State losses, and need Eastern Washington to win no more than one of its final two games. Should the Hornets, Vikings and Eagles all finish with 7-9 records, Sacramento State would win the tiebreaker and get the final playoff spot. One of Portland State’s final two games comes next Thursday, Feb. 22, at home against the Hornets. Sacramento State defeated Portland State at home, 97-93, earlier this year.
With the loss, Montana State, which had won six of its last eight games, dropped to 10-16 overall and 7-6 in the Big Sky. The Bobcats just defeated the Hornets, 74-59, in Bozeman, Mont., last Thursday.
Sacramento State never trailed during the entire contest, and held a lead the final 33:40 of the game. The team got back to what head coach Jerome Jenkins likes to refer to as Hornet Defense, where the team constantly swarms and pressures the ball to force turnovers. That’s exactly what happened tonight, as Sacramento State scored 29 points off 26 MSU turnovers. Montana State point guard Casey Durham, who torched the Hornets for 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting last week, was held scoreless tonight including eight turnovers in 29 minutes.
Junior point guard Kris Groce led five Hornets in doubles figures with 21 points, including 17 in the second half. In fact, Groce scored 17 of the team’s 52 second-half points, including nine points during the final 4:46 of the game. Hargrave added 18 points, junior Angel Alamo had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and six rebounds, Bausley tallied 12 points and six rebounds, and Adams rounded out the double-figure Hornets with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists to go along with his five steals. Adams, who had scored in double figure just once all season, was much more aggressive with the ball tonight, constantly driving to the bucket, and finishing 5-of-11 from the field.
A dunk from Adams created by a Bausley steal gave the Hornets a game-high 14-point lead (77-63) with 3:57 remaining. Later, a pair of Hargrave free throws gave Sacramento State what looked like an insurmountable 12-point lead (81-69) with 2:11 left, but MSU quickly went on a 10-1 run to close within three points (82-79) with 59 seconds left. Groce was then fouled on the ensuing Hornet possession and knocked down both free throws to put the Hornets back up by five points (84-79) with 57 seconds remaining. Bausley then stripped Carlos Taylor, and while Bausley was driving for an uncontested lay-up, Nick Dissly was whistled for an intentional foul after grabbing Bausley from behind. Bausley knocked down 1-of-2 free throws and Hargrave knocked two more after being fouled to put the game away.
Montana State shot 56.1 percent (32-57) from the field, including a blistering 64.3 percent (18-28) in the second half, but the team could not overcome 14 second-half turnovers. Dissly led the Bobcats with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting while Mecklen Davis had 18 points and Branden Johnson added 15 points and six rebounds.
The Hornets’ 18 steals were three shy of the school record of 21, set on Nov. 17, 2000, against Bethany. Sacramento State continues to easily lead the Big Sky with an average of 10.8 steals per game while forcing the opposition into 20.2 turnovers per contest.
Sacramento State embarks upon its final regular-season road trip next week as the team takes on Portland State (Thursday, Feb. 22) and Eastern Washington (Saturday, Feb. 24). The Hornets close the regular season at home against Weber State on Monday, Feb. 26.