CHENEY, Wash. -- Sacramento State cut a 21-point first half deficit all the way down to four points with 7:54 to play, but could get no closer in an 85-72 loss at Eastern Washington Thursday evening at Reese Court.
The Hornets saw a number of winning streaks snapped with the loss, including four straight wins, four consecutive conference wins and four wins in succession over Eastern Washington. Sacramento State went 4-0 on its recently completed homestand and today was its first road game since Jan. 25 at Northern Colorado.
Eastern Washington shot a blazing .571 (16-28) from the field in the first half while outrebounding the Hornets, 17-10 and holding a 9-0 advantage in second chance points. After trailing, 37-16, late in the first half, Sacramento State closed on a 13-8 run to cut the deficit to 45-29 at halftime.
The Hornets then scored on their first four possessions of the second half, including 3-pointers on three straight possessions to cut the lead to seven points (47-40) with 16:46 left. Both teams battled back and forth the next eight minutes of game clock until a pair of Mikh McKinney free throws with 7:54 remaining had the Hornets trailing just 64-60.
However, Eastern Washington answered with a free throw and a 3-pointer from Parker Kelly to go up, 68-60, and later pushed that lead to 10 points at 72-62. A Dylan Garrity 3-pointer and jumper from Zach Mills got the Hornets within five points with just over two minutes to play, but the Eagles converted on 9-of-10 free throws over the final 1:55 to put the game away.
The loss dropped Sacramento State to 10-12 overall and 6-7 in the conference. Eastern Washington improved to 11-13 and 6-7 in league. With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Hornets have three left on the road and four at home. One of those road games will come this Saturday at Portland State.
After being outscored, 45-29, in the first half, Sacramento State outscored the Eagles, 43-40, in the second stanza. The Hornets finished the game shooting .444 (24-54) from the field, .500 (7-14) from the 3-point line and a season-best .944 (17-18) from the free throw line. The Hornets had just eight turnovers (two in the second half), and outscored the Eagles in bench points by a 23-9 margin.
Entering the game as the conference's best team in defending the 3-point line, Sacramento State allowed Eastern Washington to shoot 47.4 percent (9-19) from distance, including 4-for-8 from Kelly and 3-of-5 from Tyler Harvey. Overall, the Eagles shot .558 (29-52) from the floor, finishing at better than 54 percent in both halves. EWU also held advantages in points in the paint (36-18) and second chance points (9-4).
Three Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of McKinney (15), Mills (10) and Garrity (10). McKinney led the team in virtually every statistical category, including scoring, rebounds (6), assists (5), steals (4) and minutes (36). Eight of his points came from the free throw line where he was a perfect 8-for-8. Garrity's 10 points included a pair of 3-pointers and four assists. Mills' 10 points came on 4-of-7 shooting, and 2-for-3 from distance.
Cody Demps had seven points and five rebounds, Alex Tiffin added seven points, both Jordan Salley and Nick Hornsby had six points and Eric Stuteville finished with five points. Hornsby also had four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 15 minutes.
All five Eastern Washington starters scored at least 12 points, comprised of Kelly (18), Drew Brandon (14 points, nine assists), Harvey (16), Martin Seiferth (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Venky Jois (12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists). Fifteen of Kelly's game-high 18 points came in the second half.