The game marked the season opener for Sacramento State which plays three of its first four games at home. The Hornets won their season opener for just the third time in the last 12 years, and will attempt to go 2-0 on Wednesday at home against CSU Bakersfield.
UC Merced, which is an NAIA school and a member of the California Pacific Conference, dropped to 0-2 on the young season. Tonight marked the first-ever meeting between the Hornets and Bobcats.
In a game that featured a combined 56 fouls and 76 free throw attempts, it was the Hornets who used a huge second half in which they outscored the Bobcats, 53-27, and shot 71.4 percent (20-for-28) from the field. After leading by just eight points (43-35) at halftime, Sacramento State began the second half on an 11-3 run and led by at least 13 points the rest of the way. That included a 20-point lead or better the final nine minutes, and a game-high 36-point lead late in the second half.
Joining Dickson in double figures for the Hornets were (17 points, eight rebounds), (13 points), (12 points, six rebounds) and (11 points, six rebounds and three steals). Dickson narrowly missed his first career double-double as he had a game-high nine rebounds. Of Veteto's eight rebounds, seven came on the offensive glass.
Overall, Sacramento State shot 54.4 percent (31-57) from the field, 46.7 percent (7-15) from the three-point line and 61.4 percent (27-44) from the free throw line. The Hornets also scored 46 of their points in the paint, and held a commanding 14-0 edge in fast break points and 46-13 edge in points off the bench.
After finishing seventh in the nation last season in assists, point guard was already in midseason form with nine assists (one turnover) to go along with six points and a game-high four steals. Eleven different Sacramento State players cracked into the scoring column, including freshman , who scored eight points on 3-for-3 shooting (2-of-2 from distance) in just four minutes of play.
UC Merced finished the game shooting 33.8 percent (22-65) from the field and 26.3 percent (5-19) from the three-point line. In addition, the Hornets held a 48-41 advantage on the glass and limited the Bobcats to just nine made buckets in the second half.
Sacramento State plays twice next week, including Wednesday's home against CSU Bakersfield and a road game at Utah on Friday. The game against Utah will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.
NOTES -- The 96 points were the most scored by the Hornets in the era (2008-pres.), and the most since dropping 104 against Simpson on Nov. 12, 2007…five different Hornets buried at least one three-pointer in tonight's game…Garrity and Eberhard played a game-high 32 minutes.