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WEBER STATE USES BIG SECOND HALF RUN TO BEAT MENâ€™S BASKETBALL IN BIG SKY OPENER
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Weber State’s Damian Lillard scored a game-high 27 points and the Wildcats used a 17-3 run spanning 7:26 of the second half to defeat Sacramento State, 80-65, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Saturday evening at the Nest.
In a game where neither team led by more than five points the first 30 minutes of the contest, Weber State, which is the defending Big Sky regular season champions, opened things up with the second-half run. After a jumper from Domineek Daniel gave the Hornets a 45-42 lead with 13:52 remaining, Sacramento State would not score again until the 9:21 mark of the second half.
The 17-3 run started with a Lillard breakaway dunk, and five different Weber State players scored during the spurt. Matt Washington scored all six of his points during the run and Lillard added five points. By the time Lillard knocked down a three-pointer, Weber State had a commanding 11-point lead (59-48) with 6:26 to play. Sacramento State would get no closer than within eight points of the Wildcats’ lead the rest of the way. Before the run, the Hornets had held a lead for most of the first half and a good chunk of the second half.
The game marked the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams. With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 4-5 overall and 0-1 in the conference. The Wildcats, who knocked off Utah on Wednesday and were tabbed as the preseason favorites to win the conference in both the coaches and media polls, improved to 3-4 and 1-0 in the Big Sky. In addition, Weber State improved to 28-4 all-time against Sacramento State in a series which dates back to the 1969-70 season.
Lillard, who was a first team all-conference selection last season as a freshman, shot 8-of-16 from the field, 3-of-8 from the three-point line and 8-of-9 from the free throw stripe. Seventeen of his 27 points came in a second half that saw the Wildcats outscore the Hornets, 50-33. Lillard was joined in double figures by Nick Hansen (17) and Franklin Session (14).
Session had a monster night, finishing with 18 rebounds, six assists and four steals to go along with his 14 points in 36 minutes of play. He had 11 more rebounds than any other player on the floor despite being just 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds. Those three players combined for 58 of Weber State’s 80 points. The Wildcats finished the game shooting 40.3 percent (27-67) from the field, including 51.5 percent in the second half, and held an advantage over the Hornets in rebounding (42-37), points off turnovers (18-4) and fast break points (15-2). Weber State committed just seven turnovers and 15 of its 42 rebounds came on the offensive glass.
Sacramento State finished the game shooting 37.0 percent (20-54) from the field, 21.4 percent (3-14) from the three-point line and 75.9 percent (22-29) from the charity stripe.
Three Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of Sultan Toles-Bey (14 points, five rebounds), Michael Selling (13 points, six rebounds), Mike Marcial (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Justin Eller (12 points, team-high seven rebounds). Toles-Bey had his streak of consecutive free throws made end at 25 when he missed an attempt late in the second half. Those 25 consecutive makes (which he did over a seven-game span) set the Sacramento State Div. I era record (1991-pres.).
The Hornets made their first 15 free throw attempts tonight before converting on just seven of their final 14 opportunities. Sacramento State had recorded double figures in steals in three consecutive games until posting just three this evening.
Sacramento State returns to action next week for a pair of non-conference road games at USC (Tuesday, Dec. 8) and Pacific (Saturday, Dec. 12). By the time the Hornets conclude their game at Pacific, the team will have played eight of its first 11 games away from home. Sacramento State does not return to the friendly confines again until hosting Idaho State on Saturday, Dec. 19.
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