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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL GOES COLD LATE IN 80-72 LOSS AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
CHENEY, Wash. -- Sacramento State scored just six points during the final 7:05 of the contest, and Eastern Washington went 8-of-12 from the free throw line down the stretch on the way to an 80-72 victory over the Hornets in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Saturday evening at Reese Court.
A lay-up from Davon Roberts gave the Hornets a 66-65 lead with 7:06 remaining in the contest, but the Hornets went ice cold down the stretch. In fact, the team scored on just three of its final 16 possessions, including five turnovers, to allow Eastern Washington to reclaim the lead and eventually chalk up the win. The Hornets played well defensively, limiting EWU to 43.1 percent shooting (25-58), while holding the Big Sky’s reigning MVP Rodney Stuckey to just 4-of-13 from the field.
Sacramento State had a chance to cut the lead to three points with 38 seconds to play, but Loren Leath missed a contested lay-up, and Stuckey converted a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 79-72 lead with 33 seconds left. That put the game away as Sacramento State was held scoreless after a Haron Hargrave free throw gave the team its final point of the contest with 45 seconds remaining. The Eagles’ final eight points of the game came at the free throw line, as only one field goal was converted by either team during the final 2:43 of the contest (a three-pointer from Leath with 1:05 left).
With the victory, Eastern Washington kept its slim Big Sky Tournament playoff hopes alive and concluded the regular season with a 15-14 overall record and an 8-8 mark in the Big Sky. The Eagles will learn their playoff fate based on the outcomes of remaining conference games to be played Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Should Eastern Washington not make the Big Sky Tournament, it would snap a string of nine consecutive appearances in the league’s postseason event, the longest stretch among the conference’s nine teams.
Sacramento State, which will not be making a Big Sky Tournament appearance for the first time five years, dropped to 9-19 overall and 4-11 in the Big Sky. Tonight’s game marked the team’s final road contest of the season as the Hornets struggled badly away from home, finishing the year 2-14. Sacramento State has one game remaining on the schedule, and that will come Monday night at home against the Big Sky’s regular season champions Weber State at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets need a victory to notch their fifth consecutive year with double figures in wins.
No team led by more than nine points during the entire contest, as the Eagles’ eight-point margin of victory was just one point shy of their largest lead of the night. Sacramento State shot 40.3 percent (25-62) from the field and 38.1 percent (8-21) from beyond the three-point arc. However, the game was decided at the free throw line as the Hornets were whistled for 30 fouls, resulting in 38 Eastern Washington free throws. The Eagles converted on 27 of those attempts (.711) while also outrebounding Sacramento State, 47-36. Four Hornets finished the game with at least four fouls, including Davon Roberts and Angel Alamo both fouling out during the game’s final 1:30.
Stuckey finished with 18 points, making the majority of his points at three free throw line where the sophomore went 10-of-14. However, Stuckey was also forced into six of Eastern Washington’s 18 turnovers. Seven different Hornets finished with at least one steal and the team finished with nine swipes. Paul Butorac joined Stuckey in double figures with 17 points, as did Brandon Moore with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Sacramento State junior point guard Kris Groce carried the Hornets in the second half, scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second stanza. Groce finished 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-7 from long range to go along with two steals in 38 minutes. The Pasco, Wash., native is averaging a team-high 14.9 points per game over the last eight contests, shooting 46.4 percent (39-84) from the field over that span.
Joining Groce in double figures for the Hornets were Leath (16 points, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc) and junior Roderick Adams (11 points, five assists, two steals). Adams, who scored in double figures just once through the first 25 games of the season, has now scored at least 10 points in each of the last three games. However, Adams had eight of the Hornet’s 18 turnovers in tonight’s contest. Alamo added eight points, six rebounds, two blocked shots and one steal.
Playing in the final road game of his Sacramento State career, senior Alex Bausley, a first team all-Big Sky selection last year, finished the game with just one point on 0-of-4 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 from the free throw line.
Prior to Monday’s season finale at home against Weber State, Hornet seniors Bausley and Hargrave will be honored for their contributions to the program.
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