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Feb. 22, 2007 Game Notes at Portland State
MEN'S BASKETBALL BEGINS FINAL ROAD TRIP THURSDAY AT PORTLAND STATE
A Brief Preview
The Sacramento State men’s basketball squad (9-17, 4-9) embarks upon its final regular season road trip of the season, beginning on Thursday, Feb. 22, at Portland State. Tip-off at the Stott Center is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The Hornets are coming off a 90-82 home victory over Montana State, which snapped a four-game losing streak. By the time the Hornets and Vikings tip off on Thursday, Sacramento State will have gone seven days without a game as the team beat Montana State on Valentine’s Day (Wed., Feb. 14).
Sacramento State still has an outside shot of reaching the Big Sky Tournament for the fifth straight year. The top six teams in the nine-member league reach the postseason event, and the Hornets are currently eighth, 2.5 games behind sixth-place Portland State (16-12, 7-7). Sacramento State, Montana and Eastern Washington entered the season as the only three Big Sky teams to reach the postseason each of the last four years, and that streak could end for both the Hornets and Eagles. Eastern Washington sits in seventh place with a 6-8 league record.
In order for the Hornets to reach the tournament, they would have to win their remaining three games, and hope that Portland State loses to Idaho State at home on Saturday, Feb. 24. After the Hornets play Portland State on Thursday, the team travels to Eastern Washington on Saturday. Should Sacramento State, Portland State and Eastern Washington each finish with 7-9 records, the Hornets would win the tiebreaker by virtue of having a better combined head-to-head record among the three teams. If the Hornets lose any of their remaining three games, they would be eliminated from playoff contention.
As tough a scenario as that may sound, Sacramento State also closes the year at home against the current first-place team in the conference (Weber State on March 26). In addition, the Hornets have lost nine of their last 11 games after beginning the conference season with a 2-1 record. Since that point, however, the Hornets have struggled offensively (shooting .395), defensively (allowing the opposition to shoot .535) and in the rebounding department (-10.4 rebounding disparity per game) over the team’s last 11 contests.
Portland State has dropped three of its last four games, including a 92-87 loss at Cal Poly last Saturday as part of the ESPN BracketBuster schedule. The Vikings are 9-3 at home this season, but have lost two of their last four inside the friendly confines. Dating back to last season, Sacramento State has defeated Portland State on three consecutive occasions, including a 97-93 win inside the Hornets Nest earlier this year (Jan. 26). The three-game winning streak for the Hornets is their longest current streak against any team in the Big Sky. The Vikings are still 14-9 all-time against the Hornets, including 13-8 during Big Sky play.
Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on hornetsports.com and bigskytv.org with Steve McElroy calling all the action. McElroy is in his 10th season as radio voice of Hornet basketball.
The Last Meeting
Five Hornets scored in double figures, led by sophomore Loren Leath’s 23 points and junior Kris Groce’s 20 points, as Sacramento State defeated Portland State, 97-93, on Jan. 26, 2007, inside the Hornets Nest.
The Hornets led for the final 30:16 of the contest, but had to withstand a late Portland State rally that saw the Vikings close to within two points (95-93) with 14 seconds to play. However, after being fouled with 11 seconds left, senior Haron Hargrave sank two free throws, and a three-pointer from Portland State’s Paul Hafford left fell off the mark.
Sacramento State, which had a 20-point lead early in the second half (59-59 with 18:35 remaining), shot 50.8 percent (31-61) from the field, 55.0 percent (11-20) from beyond the arc, and 68.6 percent (24-35) from the free throw line. The Hornets’ 11 three-pointers tied a season high, as Leath knocked down five, and Groce and senior Alex Bausley each had three.
The Hornets led, 92-82, with 1:32 to play, but proceeded to miss five of their 10 free throw attempts during the final minute of play to let PSU back into the game. In fact, after making all seven free throw attempts in the first half, Sacramento State went 17-of-28 in the second half. The Hornets were able to overcome a 51-32 rebounding disparity while limiting Portland State to a .400 (28-70) field goal percentage.
Joining Leath and Groce in double figures for Sacramento State were Bausley (17 points, six rebounds), junior Angel Alamo (15 points, game-high eight rebounds) and Hargrave (10 points) as the fivesome combined for 85 of the team’s 97 points. In just his sixth game of the season, Groce’s 20 points easily surpassed his previous season high of 11, as the transfer from Hawai’i also added seven assists and three steals.
For Sacramento State's complete set of game notes, click on the link above the story.