SACRAMENTO -- Four Hornets scored in double figures, and Sacramento State used a 9-2 run over the final 3:49 to defeat CSUN, 66-61, on Tuesday evening at the Nest.
Playing for the first time in 10 days, the Hornets opened a stretch of four straight games in Sacramento with tonight's win. In addition, Sacramento State (3-8 overall) improved to 3-0 at home, and 55-18 (.753 winning percentage) inside the Nest dating back to the 2012-13 season. Going back to last year, Sacramento State has won four straight, and eight of its last nine at home.
Tonight also marked the first of a stretch of three games in five days as the Hornets will play Portland on Thursday at 5:35 p.m. at the downtown Golden 1 Center, and Saturday vs. UC Santa Barbara at 7:05 p.m. inside the Nest. The team opens Big Sky Conference play at home on Dec. 30 vs. Portland State.
CSUN, previously referred to as Cal State Northridge, dropped to 1-10, which includes a 10-game losing streak. Four of those losses have come to Big Sky Conference teams (all on the road), including Montana, Idaho State and Eastern Washington.
The win allowed Sacramento State to snap a 10-game losing streak against Northridge that dates back to 1997. The Hornets beat the Matadors for the first time since a home win on Feb. 24, 1996. Northridge used to be members of the Big Sky as CSUN's final season in the league was 2000-01. Sacramento State is now 7-11 against Northridge at home.
After a jumper from Terrell Gomez gave CSUN a 59-57 lead with just over four minutes to play, Sacramento State went on a game-clinching 9-2 run. The spurt began with a Bryce Fowler offensive rebound and putback to tie the score at 59-59 with 3:49 left. On the Hornets' next possession, Fowler, a true freshman, secured another offensive board and hit the biggest shot of the game, a 3-ball with the shot clock winding down to give the Hornets a 62-59 lead at the 2:55 mark.
A pair of Matador free throws shaved the lead to one point, but the Hornets went back up three (64-61) after a Patton offensive rebound and emphatic dunk with 1:24 to play. With the score still, 64-61, and under a minute to play, CSUN had a possession in which it had two offensive rebounds and missed three consecutive 3-balls. Hornet guard Jeff Wu secured the rebound after the third missed trey and guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa put things away with a pair of free throws at the 17 second mark to give Sacramento State a 66-61 lead.
The Matadors missed each of their final six field goal attempts of the game, and did not score the last 1:53. Fowler was incredible during the final four minutes, tallying two offensive rebounds, two steals and five points.
Neither team led by more than nine points the entire game, and neither held a lead larger than five points the entire second half. After connecting on 7-of-13 from the 3-point line in the first half, Northridge was 0-for-5 from distance in the second half. Sacramento State finished the game shooting 40% (24-60) from the field, 29% (4-14) from the 3-point line and 67% (14-21) from the free throw line. The Hornets had 10 more made free throws than CSUN which finished at 42% (25-59) from the field and 80% (4-5) from the charity stripe.
Patton had 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks as the Big Sky's leader in blocks is now averaging 2.0 stuffs per game. Strings scored in double figures for the 31st consecutive game after finishing with 14 points in 35 minutes. Fowler had a career-high tying 10 points (4-for-6 shooting) to go along with four rebounds and career-best three steals. Eight of Fowler's points came in the second half.
Mauriohooho-Le'afa rounded out the four Sacramento State players with double digits in points after finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers in 33 minutes. The sophomore from New Zealand is now second in the Big Sky with a 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Wu had six points and career highs in rebounds (7), assists (8) and minutes (38) while turning the ball over just once. In fact, Sacramento State had 17 assists with just seven turnovers, its lowest total of the season.
The Hornets had healthy advantages over CSUN in points in the paint (32-20), points off turnovers (14-7), second chance points (17-6) and fast break points (8-0).
Northridge was led by Tavrion Dawson's 14 points and seven rebounds while Michael Warren had 11 points and eight rebounds. The Matadors also had 17 assists while committing 11 turnovers.
The Hornets, who have just two non-conference games remaining on the schedule, will play Thursday at the downtown Golden 1 Center against Portland at 5:35 p.m. It marks the second game of the season for the Hornets at the Golden 1 Center. Thursday's game is part of a doubleheader that will see Stanford taking on Kansas at 8:05 p.m. There will no video stream for the game against Portland, but free video streams will be available the remainder of the season (home or away) beginning with Saturday's game against UC Santa Barbara.
NOTES -- After missing the first 10 games of the season with a leg injury, senior guard Jiday Ugbaja made his debut tonight. He will be worked back slowly as he had one assist in five minutes of action.
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