PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland held an advantage for nearly 36 minutes of game clock, jumped out to a 46-32 halftime lead and led by at least six points the entire second half on the way to an 81-73 victory over Sacramento State on Saturday evening at Chiles Center.
With the loss, the Hornets dropped to 6-3 and missed out on a chance to start the season 7-2 for the first time since the 1987-88 season. In the process, Sacramento State fell to 2-2 on the road after beginning the season with road wins at Arizona State and Seattle.
In a rematch of last year's CIT first round game in which Sacramento State won at Portland by a 73-66 score, it was the Pilots who got their revenge and improved to 5-6 overall this season and 4-2 at home. The Hornets have now lost three of their last five games after beginning the season with a 4-0 record.
Tonight marked the first game of a stretch that will see the Hornets play five of six games on the road, as Sacramento State will take a week off for Finals Week before returning to play Stanford on Monday, Dec. 21.
Portland led nearly the entire game as Sacramento State shot just .397 (23-58) from the field and .304 (7-23) from the 3-point line. The Hornets were also badly outrebounded, 45-34, as Portland held an 18-5 advantage in second-chance points. In fact, of the Pilots' 45 rebounds, 15 came on the offensive glass.
Sacramento State's largest lead of the game was two points at 7-5 early in the first half (17:27), but Portland responded with an 8-0 run and led the rest of the way. The Pilots held a 46-32 advantage at halftime, easily the Hornets' largest deficit at the break all season. In addition, Portland led by as many as 16 points, the Hornets' largest overall deficit this year.
Sacramento State trailed by double figures a good portion of the second half as a 3-pointer from Cody Demps made it a two-possession game (79-73) with 19 seconds remaining. However, by then, the game had long been decided as Portland didn't shoot much better (.403 FG%, .375 3FG%) from the field, but used its substantial second-chance point advantage to give Sacramento State its largest margin of defeat all season. The Hornets' first two losses came by six points against South Dakota, and five points to UC Davis, respectively.
Sacramento State was also whistled for a season-high 29 fouls, easily the largest amount of whistles all year. In fact, Portland was in the bonus at the 11:21 mark of the first half and the 10:40 mark of the second half. The Pilots went to the free throw line 33 times, converting on 22 of those freebies (.667). The Hornets had five different players commit at least four fouls, including Marcus Graves and Nick Hornsby fouling out of the contest. The Hornets did outscore the Pilots in the second half by a 41-35 margin, but the halftime deficit was too much to overcome.
Demps scored a game-high 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 from the 3-point line and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Fifteen of those points came in the second half as the fourth-year senior also added five assists, four rebounds and a steal in a game-high 38 minutes.
Demps was one of four Hornets in double figures, including sophomore Justin Strings (15 points, six rebounds, two blocks, two steals), junior Eric Stuteville (13 points, three blocks) and Graves (11 points, two steals). Sacramento State finished with seven blocked shots (second highest total of the season) and nine steals (tied for second highest output of the year). Senior Dreon Barlett added five points, three assists, a steal and a game-high tying six rebounds. Hornsby, who had pulled at least seven rebounds in all but one game, finished with a season-low three boards as the junior forward played just 18 minutes while dealing with foul trouble all evening.
For Portland, three players scored in double figures, comprised of Gabe Taylor (17 points, five rebounds), Alec Wintering (17 points, six assists, five rebounds) and D'Marques Tyson (13 points). It was Tyson that led a Portland bench that outscored Sacramento State's reserves by a 33-24 margin. Taylor shot 7-of-12 from the field, including 2-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Sacramento State has just two non-conference games remaining on the regular season schedule (Dec. 21 at Stanford; Dec. 28 vs. Pacific Union) before opening Big Sky Conference play on Jan. 2 at Portland State.
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