MENâ€™S BASKETBALL LOSES IN OVERTIME AGAIN, THIS TIME TO EASTERN WASHINGTON IN BIG SKY OPENER
Junior Zach Nelson posted season highs in points (19), rebounds (8) and minutes (34)
CHENEY, Wash. -- Jeffrey Forbes (4) and Laron Griffin (4) combined for eight points in overtime and Eastern Washington outscored Sacramento State, 11-2, in the extra session to defeat the Hornets, 88-79, in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams Wednesday evening at Reese Court.
A total of 64 fouls were called during tonight’s game, including 34 on Sacramento State. Seven of those fouls on the Hornets were called in overtime, including three charges. Two of the charges were heavily disputed and erased what would have been three-point play situations. In fact, five different Sacramento State players fouled out of the game (including four starters), and two more players had four fouls. The Hornets had just 10 healthy players on the trip, and had Jackson Carbajal or Josh McCarver picked up one more foul, Sacramento State would have been down to just four players on the floor.
Sacramento State erased a 12-point deficit in the first half and an 11-point deficit in the second half, and had an opportunity to win during the last possession of regulation. A three-pointer from senior Duro Bjegovic gave Sacramento State a 75-74 lead with 1:48 left in regulation. Bjegovic, who scored 14 second-half points, was whistled for his fifth and final foul 33 seconds later and allowed Eastern Washington to reclaim a one-point lead with 1:15 to play.
After a pair of free throws by junior Zach Nelson (1:03 left) put the Hornets back on top, EWU tied it with 33 seconds remaining on a free throw from Cliff Ederaine. That set up Sacramento State’s last possession as the Hornets whittled the clock all the way down before an off-balance, contested Sultan Toles-Bey three-pointer from the corner did not touch rim as time expired.
Overtime belonged to the Eagles as Sacramento State went 0-for-3 from the field, 2-for-6 from the free throw line, committed three turnovers and was whistled for seven fouls. Conversely, Eastern Washington scored on its first three possessions of the extra session, and wound up converting seven of its nine free throw attempts to put the game away.
The loss marked another heartbreaker for Sacramento State as the team dropped its third overtime game of the season. The Hornets (3-9, 0-1) also lost in overtime at home to Cal State Bakersfield and on the road to McNeese State. The three overtime losses matches a school single-season record, set previously by the 1982-83, 1991-92 and 1997-98 squads.
The Hornets, who were playing the third leg of a season-long four-game road trip, lost for the sixth time in the last seven games and fell to 0-7 on the road. Sacramento State completes the road trip on Friday, Dec. 31, for a New Years Eve matinée at 1 p.m. PST.
Eastern Washington (4-8, 1-0) improved to 4-2 on its home floor, and the Eagles have now won the last 14 meetings at home against the Hornets dating back to 1995.
Sacramento State, which shot 46.0 percent (23-50) from the field and 68.3 percent (28-41) from the free throw line, had four players score in double figures.
Nelson led the way with season highs in points (19), rebounds (8), steals (2), minutes (34), free throws made (13) and free throws attempted (17). The 13 free throws tied for the fourth most in the school’s Div. I era (1991-pres.) and the 17 attempts were the third best single-game mark before Nelson fouled out with 22 seconds left in overtime.
Joining Nelson in double figures for the Hornets were Bjegovic (season-high 16 points, including 4-of-7 from the three-point line), Carbajal (15 points) and sophomore John Dickson (14 points in 17 minutes). Bjegovic hit all four of his three-pointers in the second half, and Dickson fouled out with 9:11 remaining in regulation. Toles-Bey, who is the team’s leading scorer, went just 3-of-15 from the field, but did finish with seven points, nine assists, three rebounds and two steals in 43 minutes before fouling out with 34 seconds left in overtime. Junior Walter Jackson had seven rebounds before fouling out with 1:49 remaining in overtime.
Eastern Washington finished the game shooting 49.1 percent (28-57) from the field and 64.4 percent (29-45) from the free throw line. Both teams had 32 rebounds. The Eagles took advantage of 20 Sacramento State turnovers, outscoring the Hornets by a 27-13 margin in points off turnovers.
The Eagles’ Cliff Ederaine led all scorers with a career-high 22 points as he also added eight rebounds and blocked five shots. Joining Ederaine in double figures were Forbes (21 points), Griffin (12 points) and Glen Dean (11 points, six assists). Eastern Washington had three different players attempt at least eight free throws during the game, including Forbes (7-for-8) and Griffin (6-for-8).