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LEATH'S CAREER-HIGH 31 POINTS SPARKS MEN'S BASKETBALL TO VICTORY OVER UC DAVIS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Senior Loren Leath scored a career-high 31 points, and junior Justin Eller added 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Sacramento State to an 82-70 victory over UC Davis is a non-conference men’s basketball rivalry game Wednesday evening at the Hornets Nest.
Sacramento State, which led by at least eight points for the final 24:38 of the contest, picked up its first win of the season and the first victory for new head coach Brian Katz before a standing-room only crowd of 1,292. The Hornets (1-5 this season) also improved to 62-44 all-time against their Causeway rivals, and scored 10 points in the Causeway Cup standings. The Causeway Cup is an annual all-sports competition between Sacramento State and UC Davis, and with victories in football and men’s basketball, the Hornets cut the Aggie lead to 32.5-20.0 in this year’s standings.
With the loss, UC Davis dropped to 2-6 as the Hornets held the Aggies’ leading scorer Joe Harden to just six points, including zero points in the first half.
“Tonight, our kids played the way we knew they could, and they believed in themselves for the first time this season,” Katz said. “Our coaching staff believes in this group, the players have been developing well, and we’ve been able to carve out some roles. It took a little while and there was some experimentation with 11 new players, but we have finally established a rotation of players.”
UC Davis’ largest lead of the night was three points (5-2) early in the contest, but after the Hornets reclaimed the lead on a three-pointer and layup from Leath, Sacramento State led the final 36 minutes of the contest. Leath scored 19 first-half points and sparked a 12-3 run that gave the Hornets a 12-point lead (34-22) with 2:55 remaining in the half.
Sacramento State eventually went into the locker room with a 38-27 halftime lead. After exchanging baskets the first six minutes of the second half, the Hornets went on a 14-3 run midway through the second stanza to take a game-high 20 point lead (62-42). UC Davis closed to within 10 points (76-66) with 2:09 remaining, but would get no closer.
Leath’s 31 points came on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from the three-point line and 5-of-8 from the charity stripe. Leath, who also had five rebounds, two assists and four steals in a game-high 38 minutes, eclipsed his previous career high of 28 points, set against UC Davis in 2006. Leath led a Sacramento State attack that posted season highs in points (82), field goals (28), field goal percentage (.549), three-pointers (9), three-point percentage (.474), free throw attempts (27), rebounds (34), assists (18) and steals (7).
While Sacramento State shot well from the field, UC Davis did not, finishing at 36.1 percent (22-61) from the floor and 20.0 percent (5-25) from beyond the three-point arc. In addition, the Hornets forced 14 Aggie turnovers, and scored 21 points off those miscues.
Eller’s double-double was his second in three games as the junior center finished 6-of-7 from the field while falling three points shy of his career high. He also finished with two assists, a block and a steal. Junior Antonio Flaggs rounded out the three Hornets in double figures as he finished with 11 points. Junior Mike Marcial added season bests in points (8) and assists (9), and senior Randy Adams had seven points and seven rebounds.
UC Davis’ Dominic Calegari (15 points), Mark Payne (14 points, nine rebounds) and Ryan Silva (10 points) each scored in double figures, and Harden finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
Sacramento State will play its third game in six days this Saturday, Dec. 6, when the team travels to Santa Clara to take on the Broncos at 7:05 p.m. The two teams met for the first time ever last season in Sacramento where the Broncos defeated the Hornets, 77-65.
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