UC RIVERSIDE HITS PUTBACK AT THE BUZZER TO DEFEAT MENâ€™S BASKETBALL, 59-58
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - UC Riverside’s Larry Gurganious’ putback from a tough angle hit the rim twice and fell in as the final buzzer sounded to give the Highlanders a 59-58 victory over Sacramento State in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Nest.
In a game that was tight the entire way (no team led by more than nine points), it was fitting that the contest came down to the final possession. After the Hornets’ Sultan Toles-Bey knocked down a pair of free throws to give Sacramento State a 58-57 lead with 24 seconds remaining, UC Riverside dribbled the floor and eventually set up a jumper from Brandon Dowdy with 3.5 seconds on the clock.
Dowdy’s shot bounced off the rim and a series of bodies battled for the rebound. Gurganious, who finished with 10 rebounds, got both hands on the ball and tossed up a five-footer that he had to throw high in the air to avoid hitting the side of the backboard. As the buzzer sounded, the ball was in midflight and hit the front rim, side rim and bounced in to give UC Riverside the victory.
The Hornets, who took their first lead of the game with 6:08 remaining in the contest, shot themselves in the foot with poor free throw shooting. Sacramento State had entered the contest shooting a respectable 73.2 percent from the free throw line, but struggled to hit the freebies tonight. The Hornets finished the game 15-of-26 (.577) from the line, including 14-of-24 in the second half. That included 12-of-22 during the final 13 minutes of the contest.
Sacramento State was playing just its second home game of the season and dropped to 3-4 with the loss. UC Riverside, which was selected to finish fourth in the Big West Conference’s preseason media poll, improved to 3-2. This same Highlander team defeated the Hornets last season by the score of 61-49. UC Riverside now owns a 12-4 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams.
UC Riverside led the entire first half as Sacramento State shot just 28.6 percent (8-28) and committed 10 turnovers during the first 20 minutes. However, the Hornets found a way to stay in the game and went into the break trailing by just five points (24-19). Sacramento State shot 45.8 percent (11-24) and turned the ball over just two times in the second half, but could not overcome the free throw shooting woes.
“Its tough to lose at the buzzer, but we need to have a short memory and move on to the next game,” Sacramento State second-year head coach Brian Katz said. “We struggled in the first half with our turnovers and inefficiency, but I was very pleased the way we adjusted at halftime and came out in the second half much improved. I really like the way our team is developing.”
A 7-0 run, capped by a pair of free throws from Toles-Bey, gave the Hornets their first lead at 47-46 with 6:08 to play. After both teams exchanged a series of buckets and free throws, a three-pointer from Toles-Bey matched the Hornets’ largest lead at 55-51 with 2:52 remaining. However, UC Riverside’s Lateef McMullan drained a three-pointer on the next possession to cut the deficit to one point with 2:18 remaining. After both teams failed to score on their next possession, Sacramento State freshman John Dickson made 1-of-2 free throw to put the Hornets up two points (56-54) with 1:16 left.
Another Highlander three-pointer, this time coming from Dowdy, gave the Highlanders a 57-56 lead with 53 seconds remaining. The Hornets then used 29 seconds of clock before Toles-Bey drove hard to the lane, was fouled and made both free throws with 24 seconds left. That set up UC Riverside’s dramatic final possession.
Gurganious finished with eight points and 10 rebounds while David Chavarria added seven points and 10 rebounds for a UC Riverside squad that outrebounded the Hornets, 46-28. The Highlanders scored 15 second-chance points, none bigger than the two at the buzzer. No player from either team scored more than 13 points and neither squad shot well from the field. The Highlanders, who were led by Kyle Austin’s 12 points and Dowdy’s 11 points, shot 38.9 percent (21-54) from the floor and 72.2 percent (13-18) from the free throw line.
Sacramento State finished the game shooting 36.5 percent (19-52) from the field, including just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc. Four Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of Toles-Bey’s game-high 13 points (nine in the second half), Dickson (11 points, team-best 7 rebounds), Antonio Flaggs (11 points) and Justin Eller (10 points). Selling added seven points, three rebounds, a block and two steals, and Domineek Daniel had three of the Hornets’ 10 steals.
Sacramento State outscored UC Riverside, 10-0, on fast-break points.
The Hornets return to action for a pair of games next week, the first coming on the road against crosstown rival UC Davis on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7:05 p.m. Sacramento State then plays its first conference game of the season at home against Weber State on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7:05 p.m.