CONFERENCE LEADING WEBER STATE TOO MUCH FOR MENâ€™S BASKETBALL
OGDEN, Utah. -- Weber State finished the game shooting 52.5 percent (31-59) from the field and used a 12-0 spurt over parts of the first and second halves to take a big lead and eventually defeat Sacramento State, 81-59, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Friday evening at the Dee Events Center.
In a first half which featured six ties and seven lead changes, a three-pointer from Michael Selling had cut Weber State’s lead to 33-28 with 2:01 remaining in the half. However, the Hornets would not score again until Sultan Toles-Bey converted a free throw with 16:00 left in the second half. That amounted to a Sacramento State drought which lasted 6:01 of clock time, and the Wildcats scored 12 unanswered points over that span to take a 17-point lead (45-28).
During the Wildcats’ run, the Hornets went 0-for-7 from the field and turned the ball over twice to allow Weber State to take the commanding lead. The Hornets got no closer than within 13 points of the lead the rest of the evening. After Sacramento State had cut the lead to 13 points for a second time later in the half, Weber State put the game away with a 13-2 run that gave the Wildcats a game-high 28-point lead (72-44) with 6:57 to play.
Weber State shot the ball well from the field (.525, 31-for-59), the three-point line (.476, 10-for-21) and the free throw line (.818, 9-for-11). The Wildcats, who outrebounded the Hornets by a 36-31 margin, outscored Sacramento State in the paint, 38-18. Five different Wildcats shot at least 50.0 percent from beyond the arc, including Damian Lillard (3-for-6) and Lindsey Hughey (3-for-5).
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped its season-high fifth straight, and eight of nine. Although tonight’s outcome was lopsided, five of the Hornets’ last eight losses have come by five points or less. It won’t get any easier as Sacramento State (7-15, 1-8) will take a two-hour bus ride to Pocatello tonight for its matchup at Idaho State tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m. PST. The Hornets’ lone Big Sky victory came against the Bengals (64-63) on Dec. 19 in Sacramento.
Weber State (14-7, 8-1) continued its dominance of the Big Sky as the Wildcats appear to be well on their way to winning the league’s regular season title for the second straight year. Weber State sits all alone in first place in the conference standings, two games ahead of both Northern Colorado (6-3) and Montana State (6-3). The Wildcats have now won five in a row, seven of eight, and improved their record at home this season to 9-1. In addition, Weber State is 29-4 all-time against Sacramento State, including 16-1 when playing in Ogden.
The Hornets shot well from the three-point line (.500, 8-for-16), but struggled inside the arc, converting on just 27.8 percent (10-for-38) of their two-point attempts. In addition, Sacramento State finished 15-of-22 (.682) from the free throw line. The Hornets remained within striking distance at halftime (36-28), but were outscored in the second half by a 45-31 margin.
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, comprised of Steve Panos (game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds), Lillard (15 points), Hughey (14 points) and Franklin Session (11 points, two blocks). Those four players combined for 58 of Weber State’s 81 points. Panos finished the game 8-of-13 from the field.
For Sacramento State, senior Justin Eller had 12 points and seven rebounds while junior Duro Bjegovic added 10 points and five rebounds. All 10 Hornets that appeared in the game scored at least three points, but only Eller and Bjegovic finished with more than seven. Selling added five points and seven rebounds, and Toles-Bey tallied six points and a game-best four assists.
A season-high seven different Sacramento State players buried at least one three-pointer, contributing to the team’s efficiency from beyond the arc. Eller has now scored in double figures in seven straight, and 10 of the last 11 games. Bjegovic’s 10 points gave him four double-figure efforts in the last seven contests after doing so once in his first 13 games of the season.
Sacramento State’s game tomorrow night at Idaho State will mark the end of a season-long four-game road trip. After tomorrow night’s matchup, the Hornets have just seven games remaining on the regular season schedule, four of which will come at home.