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BIG SECOND HALF LEADS PORTLAND STATE TO VICTORY OVER MENâ€™S BASKETBALL
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Five Vikings scored in double figures, led by Julius Thomas’ 16 points, and Portland State outscored Sacramento State, 48-31, in the second half on the way to a 76-62 victory over the Hornets in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball Friday evening at the Nest.
The Hornets began the game on a 16-5 run spanning 6:34 of the opening half. From that point on, however, it was all Portland State, which outscored Sacramento State, 71-46, during the final 33:07 of the contest. The Hornets entered halftime with a 31-28 lead after shooting 52.0 percent (13-25) from the field and limiting Portland State to 38.5 percent (10-26).
The Vikings, who had already entered halftime with momentum, began the second half on an 18-7 run to take a 46-38 lead with 12:45 to play. During that run, Sacramento State committed six turnovers and Portland State was able to score on five of those extra possessions. That included a Julius Thomas layup after a Michael Selling turnover that capped the run with 12:45 remaining. Sacramento State closed within five points of the Vikings’ lead on two occasions, but could get no closer.
A three-pointer from Mike Marcial got Sacramento State within, 63-58, with 2:53 remaining, but Paul Guede immediately answered with a three-pointer on the Vikings’ next possession to push the lead back to eight points.
The Hornets had trouble on the glass all night, getting outrebounded by Portland State, 36-25. That included 18 offensive rebounds for the Vikings which they turned into 21 second-chance points. The combination of Jamie Jones (14 points, nine rebounds), Guede (11 points, seven rebounds) and Thomas (16 points, six rebounds) combined for 13 offensive rebounds and created numerous second-chance opportunities all evening.
Portland State also shot much better in the second half, connecting on 57.1 percent (16-28) of its opportunities, including 4-of-8 from distance. Thomas scored 13 of his points in the second half, and Guede had nine points in the second stanza.
With the victory, Portland State (10-12, 5-5) moved into a two-way tie for fifth place in the Big Sky Conference standings with Northern Arizona. The Vikings have now won two straight on the road (including an 85-77 win at Eastern Washington last weekend), their third and fourth road victories of the season. Portland State has now won seven straight over Sacramento State dating back to the 2006-07 season, and improved to 21-9 all-time against the Hornets.
Sacramento State (8-16, 2-9), which was coming off a 72-55 road win at Idaho State last weekend, dropped to 4-6 at home. Four of those six losses inside the friendly confines have come by five points or less. Tonight’s loss also dealt the Hornets a serious blow to their Big Sky Tournament aspirations. The top six teams in the nine-member league reach the conference’s postseason event, and Sacramento State is now 3.5 games back of the sixth spot with five league games remaining on the schedule.
“I thought the difference in the game real simply was Portland State’s pressure on the offensive glass and our turnovers to start the second half,” Sacramento State second-year head coach Brian Katz said. “Portland State is a tough matchup for us because they are quick and athletic on the front line. I like to think we can control those things, but tonight we struggled.”
Portland State finished the game shooting 48.1 percent (26-54) from the field, 35.3 percent (6-17) from the three-point line and 72.0 percent (18-25) from the free throw stripe. The Vikings also scored 34 of their 76 points inside the paint. Sacramento State shot well enough to win the game (.449, 22-for-49), but constantly had trouble on the glass. Both teams scored 24 points off turnovers.
Joining Thomas, Guede and Jones in double figures for Portland State were Dominic Waters (15 points) and Alonzo Brandon (12 points, 4-of-7 from the arc). Jones’ nine rebounds and four blocked shots led all players.
For Sacramento State, senior Justin Eller had a game-high 18 points (8-of-13 shooting) to along with five rebounds. Four of Eller’s five boards came on the offensive glass. Senior Sultan Toles-Bey added 12 points and three assists, freshman John Dickson had 11 points and Marcial added seven points, four assists and four steals. Senior Jonathan Malloy chipped in three points, three assists and five rebounds in his first start of the season. After shooting 3-of-4 from the three-point line in the first half, the Hornets made just one of their eight opportunities from distance in the second half.
Sacramento State returns to action this Sunday, Feb. 7, when the team hosts Eastern Washington at 1:05 p.m. Sunday will mark just one of three remaining home contests for the Hornets on the regular season schedule.
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