SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Junior Mikh McKinney had a season-high 28 points and junior Dylan Garrity added a career-best 23 points to lead Sacramento State to an 84-78 victory over Idaho State in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Thursday evening at The Nest.
McKinney's 28 points came on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, 2-for-4 from the 3-point line and 6-of-6 from the free throw line while he also added five assists and just one turnover in 37 minutes. Garrity, who buried four 3-pointers during a five-minute stretch of the first half, scored his 23 points on a very proficient 5-for-7 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Seven of those free throws came during the final 1:44 to help seal the victory.
"Once I hit the first couple 3-pointers, the basket started to get wider and wider, and it felt like anything I threw up there was going in. Its a wonderful feeling to have," Garrity said of his 3-point barrage in the first half.
Sacramento State got off to an incredible start, scoring a season-high 52 points in the first half on .690 shooting (20-28) from the field and .800 (8-10) from the 3-point line. The field goal percentage and made three balls were also season highs in a half. After Idaho State jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, the Hornets responded with a 12-1 run and never trailed the rest of the game. In fact, Sacramento State led the final 36:01 of the contest.
The eight 3-pointers in the first half were more three balls than the Hornets had converted in 12 games this year. Garrity was 4-for-5 from distance in the first half, and McKinney and Zach Mills were both 2-for-2 from the 3-point stripe. Meanwhile, Idaho State converted on nine less field goals than the Hornets in the first half and went just 1-for-11 from the 3-point line.
Sacramento State took a game-high 27-point lead (52-25) with 34 seconds left in the half before heading into halftime with a 52-27 advantage. The 25-point halftime lead was the largest of the season for the Hornets.
However, the second half was a completely different story. The Hornets went ice cold, shooting just .259 (7-27) in the second half while failing to convert a 3-pointer. Idaho State made things interesting, chopping into a 17-point deficit with six minutes to play by going on a 14-2 run over the next 4:32 to trail just, 75-70, with 1:28 left. However, the Hornets went 9-for-10 from the free throw line over the game's final 1:27 to pull out the win.
With the victory, Sacramento State improved to 7-11 overall and 3-6 in the conference. In addition, the team began its season-long four-game homestand off a winning note. Sacramento State, which is now 5-2 at home this year and 15-6 dating back to last season, returns to The Nest on Saturday night against Weber State at 7:05 p.m.
"Tonight was a very important win," McKinney said. "We need to build momentum on this homestand and we have seven of our final 11 games at home, so it was imperative that we start things off on a high note."
Idaho State dropped to 7-11 overall and 4-5 in league play. Of the Bengals' 11 losses this season, eight have now come by eight points or less.
Overall, the Hornets shot .482 (27-56) from the field, marking the fifth time in the last eight games the team has shot better than .480 from the floor. Sacramento State also shot .533 (8-15) from distance and .759 (22-29) from the free throw line. That included 18-for-23 in the second half. The Hornets also had a decided advantage in points off turnovers, 19-9.
Idaho State shot .452 (28-62) from the field, but converted on just 8-of-27 attempts from the 3-point line and 14-of-24 from the free throw stripe. The two teams combined for 37 assists, including 20 for the Bengals.
"We need to hold serve at home, and that's exactly what we did tonight," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "Every game of the season is big, and we definitely need to take advantage of our friendly home schedule the rest of the way. We were very aggressive to start the game and did a nice job of setting a tone."
Joining McKinney and Garrity in double figures for the Hornets were Mills (10 points, six rebounds) and Jordan Salley (10 points, nine rebounds). Alex Tiffin added four points and seven rebounds. The quartet of Garrity, McKinney, Mills and Salley combined for all but 13 of Sacramento State's points.
Three Bengals scored in double figures, comprised of Andre Hatchett (17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists), Tomas Sanchez (17 points, eight assists) and Chris Hansen (15 points). No other Bengal scored more than seven points.
After Saturday's game against Weber State, the Hornets wrap up the four-game homestand next week against Northern Arizona (Feb. 6) and Southern Utah (Feb. 10).