SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State's
With the victory, the Hornets (6-3, 1-0), who broke out brand new gold uniforms for tonight's game, won their conference opener for the first time since the 2005-06 season. In addition, the team's 6-3 overall record is the best after nine games since the 2005-06 season, and the Hornets are now 4-1 at home as well.
Sacramento State's buried a three-pointer on the team's first possession of the game, and the Hornets never trailed the entire way. Montana State kept the game close throughout, staying within single digits of the Hornet lead the final 6:45 of the contest, but Sacramento State was able to bury five of its six free throw attempts during the final 41 seconds to put the game away.
McKinney's 21 points came on 4-of-8 shooting from the field (including three three-pointers) and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. The Ohlone JC transfer also added six rebounds and four assists with just one turnover in 34 minutes of play. McKinney scored perhaps the biggest points of the game when his two free throws gave the Hornets a five-point lead with 41 seconds remaining.
Prior to those two McKinney free throws, the game got a little tense as Montana State quickly carved into an eight-point deficit by scoring five points in the same possession. With the Hornets leading, 57-49, with 1:03 remaining, Xavier Blount was fouled on a three-point attempt. Blount made the first two free throws, but missed the third and Montana State's Antonio Biglow grabbed the offensive rebound, and five seconds later, buried a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 57-54 with 58 seconds left.
Sacramento State shaved 17 seconds off the clock before McKinney was fouled and made his two free throws to put the Hornets on top, 59-54. Sacramento State then forced a Christian Moon miss from the perimeter, and Hornet point guard hit a free throw to go on top, 60-54, with 20 seconds left. Blount missed a three-point attempt and McKinney grabbed the rebound while also knocking down two more free throws with seven seconds left. Biglow hit a three-pointer with one second remaining to provide the final 62-57 outcome.
The Hornets snapped their two-game losing streak, and in the process, improved to 10-9 all-time against Montana State when the two teams play in Sacramento. The Bobcats, who opened their Big Sky season on Monday with an 87-80 loss at Northern Arizona, dropped to 2-7 overall and 0-2 with the loss.
Sacramento State limited Montana State to 32.3 percent (20-62) shooting from the field and 24.0 percent (6-25) from beyond the arc. The Hornets also held a commanding 43-34 edge in the rebounding department.
Sacramento State, which led, 28-21, at halftime, finished the game shooting 41.3 percent (19-46) from the field, 38.9 percent (7-18) from the three-point line and 70.8 percent (17-24) from the free throw line. Both teams combined for just 19 turnovers (12 by the Hornets) and Sacramento State had 14 assists on its 19 made buckets.
Veteto narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with a season-high tying 19 points to go along with nine rebounds in a career-high 29 minutes of play. Dickson's 11 points all came in the second half. McKinney was 3-for-3 from the three-point line and has now made 7 of his last 8 attempts from distance spanning four games. His .542 (13-of-24) three-point percentage is the second best mark in the Big Sky.
Eberhard had five points and a season-high tying 10 rebounds while Garrity added four points, five rebounds and five assists without a turnover.
For Montana State, Blount had 15 points and five rebounds and while Paul Egwuonwu added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Of the 12 Bobcat players that appeared in tonight's game, none shot better than 50 percent from the field. In fact, the team's staring five combined to shoot 13-for-39 (.333) from the floor.
Sacramento State returns to action on Friday for a home game against Montana at 7:05 p.m. After Friday night's game, the Hornets will have 13 days off before playing again at Northern Arizona on Jan. 3.
NOTES -- The Hornets wore gold uniforms for the first time since the 2005-06 season…junior shooting guard missed tonight's game with a back injury. (21), (19) and (11) each scored in double figures to help lead the Hornets to a 62-57 win over Montana State in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Wednesday evening at the Nest.