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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL SEASON CONCLUDES WITH LOSS TO WEBER STATE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Weber State began the second half on a 25-3 run, and eventually outscored Sacramento State, 54-32 in the second stanza on the way to an 89-69 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Monday evening inside the Hornets Nest.
The game marked the regular season finale for Sacramento State, which concluded the season with a 4-24 overall record and a 2-14 mark in the Big Sky. The game also marked the final regular season tuneup for Weber State (15-13, 10-6), which will host Montana State in the Big Sky Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday, March 8. The Hornets did not reach the Big Sky Tournament for the second straight season after making the postseason event four straight years from 2002-06. The top six teams in the nine-member conference advance to the tournament.
In what was a rebuilding year for the Hornets as head coach Jerome Jenkins started a pair of freshmen (point guard Vinnie McGhee, Jr., and forward Darnell Ferguson) and a sophomore (Justin Eller), Sacramento State had troubles with its defense and rebounding all season. That was a big reason the team lost tonight’s game as Weber State shot 56.4 percent (31-55) from the field, including 71.4 percent in the second half, and outrebounded Sacramento State, 53-24.
In fact, the Wildcats scored 42 of their 89 points in the paint, and tallied 24 fast break points. Sacramento State did turn 18 Weber State turnovers into 18 points, but could not overcome a poor second half that saw the team convert on just 25.6 percent (10-39) of its shots.
After trailing at halftime, 37-35, Weber State opened the second half with a flurry, allowing the Hornets just three points during the first 8:40 of the second stanza. Sacramento State missed 19 of its first 20 shots from the field in the second half and let the Wildcats run away with the game. WSU led by at least 15 points during the final 13:00 of the contest.
Weber State was led by Arturas Valeika’s 10 points and game highs in both rebounds (20) and blocked shots (6). Joining him in double figures for the Wildcats were Daviin Davis (game-high 22 points) and Steve Panos (17). Dezmon Harris and Trevor Morris both added nine points.
Sacramento State senior Jason Davis led all Hornets with a career-high 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. He also added three steals in 26 minutes. Joining Davis in double digits for Sacramento State were seniors Clark Woods (16 points, 4-of-8 from the three-point line, three steals.) and Justin Williams (12 points, six rebounds). All three seniors were honored prior to the game for their contributions to the program. Junior Donald Thomas added 11 points in 15 minutes.
As the Hornets conclude their 17th season of Div. I play, one of the bright spots for Sacramento State this year was the play of freshman point guard Vinnie McGhee. The Oakland, Calif., native established himself as a legitimate candidate for Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors after starting all but one game and finishing with averages of 12.1 points, 5.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. That includes a team-best 33.7 minutes per game, which was the third highest mark in the Big Sky. He also ranks second in the league in assists and fifth in steals.
Ferguson (freshman) and Eller (sophomore) also combined to start 32 games as Sacramento State was playing without the services of two potential starters (guard Roderick Adams and center Curtis Harrison) for most of the season.
“We have a good, young nucleus on this team, and who I believe will be the conference freshman of the year,” Jenkins said. “The young guys got a taste of Div. I basketball and will be very hungry next season. My coaching staff and I have been, and will continue to recruit hard to get Sacramento State back on the winning track.”
For the eighth straight season (all under Jenkins), the Hornets will finish first in the league in steals per game (9.0 per game). In addition, the team has now knocked down at least one three-pointer in 404 consecutive games, a streak which dates back to 1993.
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