SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State sophomore shooting guard
With the victory, Sacramento State (12-10, 7-7) now has its most overall wins (12) since the 2005-06 season, most Big Sky victories (7) since the 2004-05 season, and most home wins (9) since the 2004-05 season. In fact, with seven games remaining in the regular season, the Hornets are attempting to become the first team during the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.) to finish the season with an overall winning percentage above the .500 mark.
The Hornets, who are now 9-3 at home and wrapped up a season-long three-game homestand with tonight's victory, now find themselves in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big Sky standings with Montana State and North Dakota. In addition, the team is just one game back of third-place Southern Utah (8-6). The top seven teams in the 11-member league qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, and Sacramento State is looking for its first trip to the conference's postseason event since the 2005-06 season.
McKinney was on fire all evening, as his 30 points were the most by a Hornet since scored 41 at Northern Colorado on Jan. 13, 2009. The sophomore shot 13-of-18 from the field, 2-of-3 from the three-point line and 2-of-2 from the free throw line while also tallying four rebounds, three assists, one block and two steals in a game-high 35 minutes. Sixteen of his points came in the first half, and he dropped in 14 more after halftime.
Despite the big scoring effort from McKinney, the Hornets found themselves in yet another tight game as the contest featured nine lead changes and seven ties. Five of those league changes came during the game's final seven minutes as both teams went back and forth. Sacramento State had a six-point halftime lead, and pushed that lead to 10 points early in the second half before Portland State responded with a 12-0 run to take a 46-44 lead with 13 minutes remaining. No team led by more than five points the next 11:30 of game clock.
After a three-pointer from Lateef McMullan gave Portland State a 65-64 lead with 2:49 left, the Hornets ripped off an 8-0 run to take control of the game. scored the first five points of the spurt with a pair of free throws, and, after stealing a pass from Renado Parker, raced the length of the floor for a layup and a foul which resulted in a three-point play. Dickson wasn't done on defense as he came up with another steal on the Vikings' next possession which eventually led to a three-pointer.
That three ball gave the Hornets a 72-65 lead with 1:30 remaining, and proved to be the dagger as Portland State could not come within four points of Sacramento State's lead the rest of the way. The Hornets went 5-of-7 from the free throw line during the game's final minute to help seal the win.
Portland State, which had won 11 of the previous 12 meetings against Sacramento State prior to tonight, dropped to 5-16 overall and 3-11 in the Big Sky. The Hornets avenged a loss earlier this season to the Vikings in Portland as well.
Both teams shot well from the field (SAC .517, PSU .545), but the Hornets committed just four turnovers while outscoring the Vikings in points off miscues by a large margin (16-5). In addition, Portland State, who shot 8-of-17 from the three-point line, connected on just 3-of-9 from the free throw line.
Joining McKinney in double figures for Sacramento State were Eberhard (12 points, five points in the last 1:30) and center (10 points, team-high seven rebounds). Dickson chipped in nine points, three rebounds, three assists, no turnovers and four steals. added seven points and six assists, and had four points and three rebounds off the bench.
Portland State was led by Aaron Moore's 15 points and 10 rebounds. Four Vikings scored in double figures, including McMullan (17), Gary Winston (13) and Parker (12).
Sacramento State returns to action next week for road games on Thursday at North Dakota, and Saturday at Northern Colorado.
NOTES -- With one more conference win, the Hornets would match their most league victories (8-6 in 2004-05) since joining the Big Sky prior to the 1996-97 season.
scored a season-high 30 points, and the Hornets used a late 8-0 run to take control of the game and defeat Portland State, 77-71, in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at the Nest.