PORTLAND, Ore. -- Mikh McKinney (18), Cody Demps (16), Dylan Garrity (15) and Eric Stuteville (12) combined for 61 points to help Sacramento State to a 72-65 win at Portland State Saturday evening at the Stott Center.
Prior to tonight, the Stott Center had been a House of Horrors as Sacramento State had dropped seven straight in Portland, and was just 1-17 all-time when playing the Vikings on their home floor. In fact, during that seven-game losing streak, the Hornets had lost those games by an average of 19.9 points.
Instead, the Hornets (11-12, 7-7) came out on top, and not only won for the fifth time in their last six games, but also moved into a four-way tie for fifth place in the league standings. With just six games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State is attempting to qualify for the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The top seven teams in the 11-member league qualify for the league's postseason event, and four of the Hornets' final six games will come at home.
Sacramento State rode a sizzling first half in which the team shot .654 (17-26) from the field and scored 15 points off PSU turnovers to grab a 43-29 halftime lead. The Vikings cut the lead to four points in the second half, but got no closer. The Hornets never trailed the entire way, opening the game on an 18-6 run, and leading by 19 points late in the first half.
The Hornets finished the game shooting a season-high .617 (29-47) from the field, including .500 (3-6) from the 3-point line and .733 (11-15) from the free throw line. Sacramento State also held a commanding 30-20 edge in the rebounding department and saw the Vikings shoot just 3-of-8 from the free throw line.
With the loss, Portland State, which had been 10-4 at home, dropped to 11-12 overall and 6-8 in the conference. The Hornets were also able to avenge a 68-64 overtime loss at home suffered earlier this season to the Vikings. That remains the only loss at home to a Big Sky opponent for Sacramento State this year.
Perhaps the biggest sequence of the game came midway through the second half. A three-point play by Andre Winston had just capped off a 13-0 Viking run and the Hornets led just, 52-48, with 12:58 to play. However, McKinney answered with a jumper and Alex Tiffin followed with a lay-up to put the Hornets back up eight points. The Vikings trimmed the lead to six points twice over the next couple minutes but Sacramento State responded with a bucket on its next possession each time.
Eventually, the Hornets pushed their lead to 67-54 with 2:07 to play, but committed three turnovers and went just 3-of-6 from the free throw line over the final 1:05 to let PSU get within five points with under 10 seconds to play. However, a pair of Garrity free throws with five seconds left made it a three-possession game and established the final margin of victory for the Hornets.
The Vikings also shot well from the field (.537) and converted on the same amount of field goals as the Hornets (29), but the difference in the game was at the free throw line where the Hornets knocked down 11 freebies compared to just three for Portland State. The Vikings also shot just .286 (4-14) from the 3-point line.
McKinney has now led Sacramento State in scoring in seven straight games as his 18 points came on 7-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-3 from the 3-point line. The junior shooting guard played a game-best 38 minutes and dished out a career-high 11 assists compared to just two turnovers. Eleven of his points came in the second half.
Garrity has now scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games with his 15 points. Demps matched his career high with 16 points, and each of those came in the first half where he was 7-of-7 from the field. He attempted just one shot from the floor in the second half. Stuteville, who is a true freshman, fell two points of his season high as the 12 points came on 6-of-6 shooting, including four jumpers from the perimeter.
True freshman Nick Hornsby had a game-high six rebounds, and both Jordan Salley and Tiffin finished with four points.
Only three Portland State players scored more than eight points, comprised of Andre Winston (18), Gary Winston (10) and Tim Douglas (10).
The Hornets play twice at home next week, beginning on Thursday against North Dakota at 7:05 p.m.