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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL LOSES LATE LEAD AND GAME TO EASTERN WASHINGTON
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Trey Gross knocked down a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining to break a tie game and give Eastern Washington a 59-57 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at the Hornets Nest.
In a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, no team led by more than five points during the final 13:29, and no team led by more than two points during the final 6:29 of the contest. After a free throw from Eastern Washington’s Brandon Moore tied the game at 57-57 with 49 seconds to play, Sacramento State freshman Vinnie McGhee, Jr. was eventually fouled on the Hornets’ ensuing possession with 24 seconds left. However, McGhee missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw situation, and Moore grabbed the rebound.
The Eagles then whittled down the clock until Gross drove to the bucket with five seconds remaining. As he went up in the air to shoot a four-foot runner, he crashed into the Hornets’ Wandji Aboubakar, who was called for the blocking foul with 2.6 seconds remaining. Gross knocked down both free throws to give Eastern its largest lead of the half at two points. Sacramento State had to dribble the length of the floor after the free throw, and senior Justin Williams’ desperation 40-footer missed short and was ruled to come after the buzzer had sounded.
Sacramento State, which took its largest lead of the game at nine points (27-18) with 3:20 remaining in the first half, dropped to 4-17 overall and 2-8 in the conference with the loss. The Hornets fell to 4-6 at home, and squandered an opportunity to string together their first winning streak of the season (the team beat Northern Colorado, 74-70, on Feb. 2).
Eastern Washington, which took its largest lead of the game at four points (16-12) with 7:15 left in the first half, improved to 9-16 overall and 4-7 in the Big Sky with the victory. The Eagles snapped a four-game losing streak that saw the team lose three of those games by seven points or less.
Eastern Washington’s last field goal of the game came at the 4:07 mark of the second half, but the Eagles were able to score their final five points of the contest from the free throw line, including Gross’ game winners. Sacramento State scored on just one of its final six possessions of the game as the team could not get the big bucket to pad its lead.
Sacramento State shot 43.1 percent (22-51) from the field, 26.7 percent (4-15) from the three-point line and 64.3 percent (9-14) from the free throw line. The Hornets scored 36 of their 57 points in the paint, including 15 points off 14 Eastern Washington turnovers. The Eagles shot 41.2 percent (21-51) from the field, 17.6 percent (3-17) from the three-point line and 73.7 percent (14-19) from the free throw line.
Kellen Williams led Eastern Washington with 16 points (7-of-13 shooting) and a game-high 13 rebounds, while Moore added 11 points to round out the two Eagles in double figures. Gross finished with eight points and two blocked shots in 29 minutes.
Four Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of seniors Clark Woods (16 points, four assists and two steals in 35 minutes), Jason Davis (12 points, four rebounds), Justin Williams (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and three steals), and McGhee (10 points, six assists). Woods shot 4-of-6 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the three-point line, as he was the only Hornet who was effective shooting from the perimeter. Woods is also averaging 13.5 points over his last four games, and bumped his season scoring average to 7.1 points per game.
Sacramento State held a 31-25 halftime lead, and pushed its lead to as large as seven points early in the second half. Eastern Washington took its first lead of the second half at 44-43 with 11:29 remaining.
The Hornets play the third and final game of their three-game homestand this Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7:05 p.m, against Portland State. After Saturday’s game, Sacramento State has just two home games remaining on its schedule (Feb. 28 vs. Idaho State; March 3 vs. Weber State).
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