IDAHO STATE SQUEAKS PAST MENâ€™S BASKETBALL, 52-51
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In a game where both teams combined to shoot just 37.1 percent (39-for-105) from the field, Idaho State’s Donnie Carson knocked down two free throws with four seconds remaining to clinch a victory over Sacramento State, 52-51, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at the Hornets Nest.
After a three-pointer from Hornet point guard Vinnie McGhee, Jr., tied the score at 48-48 with 51 seconds remaining, Idaho State was able to whittle the clock down before Amorrow Morgan knifed through the lane for a layup to put the Bengals back on top, 50-48, with 32 seconds left.
Both teams then exchanged timeouts before the Hornets drove the floor, using as much clock as possible. As the clock winded down, McGhee began to drive towards the lane before officials ruled that the true freshman traveled with 5.6 seconds remaining, giving ISU back the ball. Carson was then fouled with a second later and knocked down both free throws to give Idaho State an insurmountable four-point lead (52-48). McGhee knocked down a running three-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final margin of victory for the Bengals.
"This was a game where both teams were trying to protect their basket," Sacramento State head coach Jerome Jenkins said. "We gave up only 26 points in the second half, and had our chances to win. Idaho State just made a couple more shots to come out on top."
With the victory, Idaho State (11-17, 8-7) clinched a spot in the Big Sky Tournament. The semifinals (March 11) and championship game (March 12) will take place this year in Portland, Ore., as Portland State was able to clinch homecourt advantage with a win over Montana State tonight.
Sacramento State, which has just two games remaining on its schedule, dropped to 4-22 overall and 2-13 in the conference. The Hornets were mathematically eliminated from the postseason event for the second straight year after advancing to the tournament four straight seasons (2002-06).
The game featured seven ties and six lead changes, as no team led by more than four points during the entire second half. Statistically speaking, the game was nearly identical, except for Idaho State holding a 41-32 rebounding edge, and knocking down 10-of-15 free throws while the Hornets went 6-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Sacramento State, which held its last lead of the game at 43-42 with 5:36 remaining, shot 37.7 percent (20-53) from the field and 20.8 percent (5-24) from the three-point line. The Hornets never had an opportunity to stretch their 43-42 lead as ISU bounced back with a Demetrius Monroe layup (4:58) and a Chron Tatum jumper (3:51) to reclaim a three-point lead at 46-43. The Hornets would eventually tie on McGhee’s three-pointer, but could not get over the hump.
Idaho State had three players in double figures, comprised of Morgan (14 points, five assists), Matt Stucki (13 points, three steals) and Carson (11 points, team-best seven rebounds). The Bengals shot 36.5 percent (19-52) from the field and 20.0 percent (4-20) from the three-point line. Although Idaho State held a large rebounding advantage over Sacramento State, the Hornets were able to score 19 second-chance points (off 12 offensive rebounds) to the Bengals’ 17 second-chance points (off 17 offensive rebounds).
McGhee led the Hornets with 10 points (all in the second half), while junior Loren Leath added nine points, and senior Jason Davis chipped in eight points and a team-best seven rebounds. The Hornets’ trio of McGhee, Leath and Clark Woods combined to shoot just 29.4 percent (10-for-34) from the field and 22.7 percent (5-22) from beyond the arc. Sophomore Alonzo Young had seven points on 3-of-3 shooting and senior Justin Williams finished with three assists, two blocks and a game-high tying three steals in 20 minutes.
Sacramento State will rest on Friday before playing its final non-conference game of the season in the basketball version of the Causeway Classic on Saturday at UC Davis. The Hornets lead the all-time series, 61-44, including victories each of the last two years. The Hornets wrap up the 2007-08 season at home on Monday, March 3, against Weber State. Seniors Davis, Woods and Williams will be honored for their contributions to the program prior to the game.