MENâ€™S BASKETBALL LOSES LATE LEAD, DROPS HEARTBREAKER TO MONTANA, 57-56
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State was held without a point during the final 1:27 of the game, and Montana received late buckets from Mathias Ward (1:11) and Will Cherry (0:18) to defeat the Hornets, 57-56, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Friday evening at The Nest.
In a game which featured 15 lead changes, neither team had more than an eight-point advantage the entire way, and neither led by more than three points the final 5:34 of the contest. In fact, a free throw from Antonio Flaggs gave Sacramento State its largest lead of the second half at three points (56-53) with 1:28 remaining.
Montana, however, scored on its next possession on a layup from Ward to draw back within, 56-55, with 1:11 remaining. The Hornets then whittled the clock down and Antonio Flaggs missed a three-pointer, but Justin Eller was able to grab the offensive rebound and call a timeout with 31 seconds left.
After the timeout, Mike Marcial had his baseline inbounds pass stolen by Will Cherry, who dribbled the ball up the floor and eventually cut hard to the basket for a running layup giving the Grizzlies a 57-56 lead with 18 seconds left. After another timeout, the Hornets’ Sultan Toles-Bey brought the ball up and drove hard to the basket before getting stripped by Cherry, who retrieved the orange and was immediately fouled with nine seconds remaining.
Cherry, however, missed both free throws, giving the Hornets new life. John Dickson grabbed the rebound off the second miss and fed to Marcial, who dribbled the length of the floor before missing a 12-footer from the right side of the key with three seconds on the clock. A scramble for the rebound ensued and the ball glanced off a Hornet and landed out of bounds with 0.4 seconds remaining. Montana then threw the ball in, and time expired.
The Hornets had three possessions during the final minute, but could not score. That included the two turnovers during the final 30 seconds of play.
The loss dropped Sacramento State to 7-11 overall and 1-4 in the Big Sky. The Hornets had won three of their last four home games prior to the loss, and fell to 4-4 inside the friendly confines. Despite the loss, Sacramento State needs just one win to quadruple its victory output from a season ago (2-27). Sacramento State has now played seven games that have been decided by four points or less, and is 3-4 on those occasions.
Montana (13-6, 4-3) won its third straight game and remains in fourth place in the Big Sky standings. The Grizzlies have now won the last six meetings with Sacramento State, and improved to 27-5 all-time against the Hornets.
Sacramento State finished the game shooting 36.2 percent (21-58) from the field, including 30.0 percent (9-30) in the second half. The Hornets outrebounded the Grizzlies, 37-34, and committed just 10 turnovers. After going into halftime with a 30-29 lead, Sacramento State was outscored in the second half, 28-26.
The Grizzlies shot 42.0 percent (21-50) from the field, and grabbed just five offensive rebounds all evening. Both teams shot below 27 percent from the three-point line and Sacramento State was able to outscore Montana in second-chance points by an 11-3 margin.
The Hornets had three players score in double figures, comprised of Eller (14 points, 12 rebounds), Domineek Daniel (12 points, five rebounds and three steals) and Flaggs (11 points, five rebounds). Freshman John Dickson added six points and seven rebounds and Toles-Bey finished with seven points. The double-double for Eller was his second of the season and sixth of his career.
Anthony Johnson, who is the conference’s fourth leading scorer, was the only Grizzly in double figures as he finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Cherry added nine points, four rebounds and a game-high four steals, and Ward tallied eight points. Brian Qvale, who entered the game as Montana’s second leading scorer, was limited to just one point in 23 minutes.
Sacramento State completes its three-game homestand in two days (Sunday, Jan. 17) when the team hosts Montana State at 1:05 p.m. The Hornets are 12-21 all-time against the Bobcats in a series which dates back to 1951, and 8-7 when playing in Sacramento.