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Box vs Portland State
LEATH SCORES 23 AND GROCE ADDS 20 IN MENâ€™S BASKETBALL VICTORY OVER PORTLAND STATE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Five Hornets scored in double figures, led by sophomore Loren Leath’s 23 points and junior Kris Groce’s 20 points, as Sacramento State got a much needed 97-93 victory over Portland State in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Friday evening at the Hornets Nest.
The Hornets, who snapped a season-long five game losing streak, 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 as Sacramento State improved to 8-13 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky.
The Hornets also snapped a three-game home losing streak, and now sit 1.5 games back of a playoff spot into the Big Sky Tournament. Sacramento State is one of three teams that has advanced to the conference’s postseason tournament each of the last four years, as the top six teams in the nine-member league participate. Eight games remain on the Hornets’ schedule, including a home contest next Wednesday, Jan. 31, against conference newcomer Northern Colorado at 7:05 p.m.
Portland State lost its third straight to the Hornets as Sacramento State swept the season series last year. The Vikings had their two-game winning streak snapped while falling to 13-9 overall and 4-5 in the conference.
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. He shot 6-of-13 from the field, 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, and was the only Hornet perfect from the free throw line (5-5).
Leath notched his fourth 20-point effort of the season as the sharp shooter went 9-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. For Bausley, his six rebounds put him in sole possession of the Sacramento State Div. I record (1991-pres.) for career rebounds (513). He is also second in Div. I history in points (1,072) and steals (172). Alamo has now scored in double figures in four straight games and led the team in rebounding for the 13th time.
Sacramento State led by double figures for more than 17 minutes (17:10) of both the first and second halves before an Anthony Washington bucket cut the Hornet lead to nine points (86-77) with 4:20 to play.
Portland State also had five players in double figures, comprised for Dupree Lucas (26), Scott Morrison (13), Juma Kamara (12), Washington (12) and Deonte Huff (11). Lucas’ 26 points came on 10-of-24 shooting, and six different Vikings had at least five rebounds. PSU went to the free throw line 26 times in the second half (converting 19), and finished the game 73.8 percent (31-42) from the stripe. A combined 53 fouls were called during the game and 11 different players finished the game with at least three fouls.
Sacramento State wraps up its season-long three game homestand on Wednesday against Northern Colorado before embarking upon a daunting three game Big Sky road trip which spans just six days.
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