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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL FALLS AT UTAH VALLEY
OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley opened the game on a 22-8 run, and led the entire way while posting a 77-52 victory over Sacramento State in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday evening at the UCCU Center.
For the second straight game, Sacramento State got out of the gates slowly as just four days ago, it was Washington State that began the game on a 27-0 run. This time, a layup from Utah Valley’s Geddes Robinson gave the Wolverines a 22-8 lead with 12:30 left in the first half. During the spurt, Utah Valley shot 8-of-12 from the field, including three three-pointers. Conversely, the Hornets went just 3-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-4 from the free throw line and committed three miscues during the Utah Valley run.
Sacramento State got within six points (31-25) after a jumper from John Dickson at the 6:09 mark of the first half, but Utah Valley quickly responded with a 12-1 run to take a commanding 43-26 lead. The Hornets got no closer than 13 points the rest of the evening as Utah Valley had at least a 20-point lead the final 16:39 of the contest.
The Hornets have dropped four of five while falling to 2-5 on the young season. As a program, Sacramento State has always struggled when playing in the state of Utah as the team is now 2-29 all-time when playing in the Beehive State. Utah Valley, which was coming off a 70-68 win at Oregon State on Wednesday night, improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 on its home floor.
Sacramento State shot 34.4 percent (22-64) from the field, 21.1 percent (4-19) from the three-point line and 33.3 percent (4-12) from the free throw line. The Hornets have now shot below 35 percent from the field in three of the last four games. Sacramento State did have 10 steals (one shy of a season high) and forced 18 Utah Valley turnovers, but could not overcome its struggles from the perimeter.
Conversely, Utah Valley shot 51.9 percent (27-52) from the floor and a blazing 55.0 percent (11-20) from the three-point arc. The Wolverines held a slim 38-36 rebounding advantage, and scored 24 points off 14 Sacramento State turnovers.
Despite a nagging ankle injury that has lingered since preseason practices, junior Walter Jackson led the Hornets with season highs in points (13) and minutes (28) to go along with six rebounds and one steal. He shot 6-of-11 from the field and was one of just three Hornets to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor. Jackson was the only Sacramento State player to score in double figures.
Making his first start since the opening week of the season, junior Zach Nelson finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two steals. Senior Sultan Toles-Bey chipped in seven points, three assists and a game-high three steals, and junior Heath Hoffman added seven points, three rebounds and two steals. Senior Duro Bjegovic had seven rebounds and now leads the team with an average of 5.7 boards per game.
The quartet of Holton Hunsaker (23), Isiah Williams (19), Justin Baker (11) and Jordan Swarbrick (10) combined for 63 of Utah Valley’s 77 points, and all 11 of the team’s three-pointers. Hunsaker shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-8 from the three-point line while Williams (3-of-4), Swarbrick (2-of-4) and Baker (1-of-2) were also proficient from beyond the arc. Baker narrowly missed a double-double with eight rebounds, and Ben Aird posted a game-high nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
Sacramento State will finish its three-game road trip this Tuesday, Dec. 7, when the team travels to Los Angeles for a matchup with Loyola Marymount. Tip is 7:35 p.m.
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