VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS AND INTERVIEWS
SACRAMENTO -- Senior Justin Strings scored a career-high 34 points on 16-of-18 shooting from the field, and Sacramento State used a big second half to defeat Portland State, 80-75, on Saturday evening inside the Nest. The game marked the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams.
In a highly entertaining game that saw Sacramento State outscore the Vikings, 47-36, in the second half, Strings put on a memorable show that included a 9-for-9 shooting performance after halftime. In fact, after missing his first two shots of the game, Strings proceeded to go 16-for-16 from the field over the game's final 33 minutes. The fourth-year senior and team co-captain finished with 34 points, eight rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes of play. He used the full arsenal tonight, scoring in a variety of ways, including jumpers, floaters, runners, off balance one-footers, fadeaways, layups and a dunk.
Nineteen of Strings' points came in the second half, and he scored 11 of those points in a 32-21 Sacramento State run over the final nine minutes. Trailing, 65-63, with 5:18 to play, the Hornets would score 10 of the game's next 11 points to take a 73-66 lead with 1:09 left. The dagger was a three-ball from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa that capped the run and gave Sacramento State its largest lead of the game. Portland State chipped away and cut the Hornet deficit down to three points with eight seconds remaining, but a pair of Jeff Wu free throws iced the game.
The win came against a Portland State team that had been 10-3, which included convincing road wins at Stanford and Cal. In fact, in their last game, the Vikings beat Cal by 25 points. Portland State had won six of its last seven games and had a 5-1 record on the road prior to the loss. The Vikings, who entered the game ranked first in the nation in steals per game (12.9) and forced turnovers per game (23.0), as well as third in scoring (93.6 ppg), dropped to 10-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
Sacramento State won its conference opener for the first time in three years while improving to 4-10 and 1-0 in the Big Sky. The Hornets are now 4-1 at home and 56-19 inside the Nest dating back to the 2012-13 season. The Hornets have now split their last six games after beginning the season with a 1-7 record.
Sacramento State outscored Portland State after halftime by a 47-36 margin while shooting a blazing 17-of-25 (.680) from the field. Overall, the Hornets shot 60% (32-53) from the field and 38% (6-16) from the 3-point line while having little trouble against a Portland State full-court press that caused problems for the opposition all season. The Hornets posted season highs against a Div. I opponent in points (80), points in a half (47), field goal percentage (60%) and field goals made (32).
Making the win even sweeter is the Hornets trailed by as many as 16 points midway through the first half. Sacramento State used a 15-0 run to get back in the game, and were in the thick of things trailing by just six points (39-33) at the half.
After connecting on four of their first seven 3-point attempts, Portland State would go 2-for-17 from long distance the rest of the way. The Vikings finished the game shooting 42% (30-72) from the field, 25% (6-24) from the 3-point line and 53% (9-17) from the free throw line. Sacramento State had just 11 turnovers and held a 27-13 advantage in points off the bench. Portland State did have a 40-31 rebounding, and 12-2 second chance points advantage.
Strings' 34 points surpassed his previous career high of 29, set last year in a win at Montana. He also set career highs in field goals made (16) and assists (5). The 34 points were the fourth most in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1991-pres.) and the most by a Hornet since 2008.
All eight Hornets that appeared in tonight's game cracked the scoring column, including junior guard Jordan Tolbert who had a career-high tying 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field and 2-for-5 from long range. He also had three rebounds and four assists in a season-best 34 minutes, and was a big factor in the Hornets' handling of the PSU press.
Mauriohooho-Le'afa had seven points and five rebounds, forward Joshua Patton posted five points, four rebounds and four blocked shots, and shooting guard Kevin Hicks had six points, including a pair of second half 3-pointers. In fact, it was a Hicks 3-pointer that gave the Hornets the lead for good at the 5:04 mark of the game. Wu added five points, and both Jiday Ugbaja and Bryce Fowler had two points and three rebounds. Fowler threw a baseline inbound pass to a streaking Strings for a dunk and a 75-68 lead with 51 seconds left.
For Portland State, Deontae North had 20 points and nine rebounds while Ryan Edwards had 16 points, and Bryce Canda posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Of PSU's 40 rebounds, 18 came on the offensive glass, including five from North.
Sacramento State will hit the road for five of its next seven conference games, including next week on Thursday at Idaho (7 p.m.) and Saturday at Eastern Washington (2 p.m.).
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January 26, 2018 MEN'S HOOPS CONCLUDES ROAD TRIP SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT PORTLAND STATE
January 20, 2018 MEN’S BASKETBALL DROPS SECOND GAME OF ROAD TRIP TO IDAHO STATE
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January 1, 2018 STRINGS NAMED THE NATIONAL MID-MAJOR PLAYER OF THE WEEK
December 29, 2017 MEN'S HOOPS OPENS BIG SKY PLAY AT HOME SATURDAY VS. PORTLAND STATE
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December 9, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS AT BOISE STATE
December 3, 2017 MEN'S BASKETBALL TO PLAY SAINT MARY'S ON THE ROAD MONDAY NIGHT
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November 23, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL DROPS FIRST ROUND WOODEN LEGACY GAME TO SAN DIEGO STATE
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November 17, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS ON THE ROAD AT SAN FRANCISCO
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October 17, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL RELEASES ITS 2017-18 SCHEDULE
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