LATE RUN DOOMS MEN’S BASKETBALL IN LOSS TO WEBER STATE

LATE RUN DOOMS MEN’S BASKETBALL IN LOSS TO WEBER STATE

OGDEN, Utah — Weber State broke open a close game by going on a 15-2 run spanning the final 4:27 to eventually beat Sacramento State, 80-64, on Thursday evening in front of 6,410 fans at the Dee Events Center.

In a game where neither team led by more than nine points the first 36:49 of game clock, Sacramento State went ice cold during the final stages of the contest, failing to score during the last 2:53. In fact, a jumper from senior Justin Strings had the Hornets trailing just 65-62 with 4:43 remaining. However, Sacramento State would go just 1-for-6 from the field with a missed front end of a free throw situation and a turnover during the final four minutes. Conversely, after the Hornets had cut the Wildcat lead to three points, Weber State proceeded to score on six of its final eight possessions, going 4-for-6 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line over that span. the 16-point margin of victory was also Weber's largest lead all evening.

Weber State held a lead for nearly 36 minutes of the contest, but the Hornets were within five points of that lead a good majority of that time. In fact, Sacramento State trailed by just one point at halftime and held a brief two point lead after a tip-in from Calvin Martin at the 15:48 mark. The Wildcats would end up shooting 54 percent (14-26) from the field in the second half while outscoring Sacramento State, 43-28. Conversely, the Hornets shot just 37 percent from the field in the second half.

With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 5-14 overall and 2-4 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets remain winless away from home this year, which includes an 0-8 record when playing on an opponent's home floor. Tonight also began a three-game road trip for Sacramento State, which includes stops at Idaho State this Saturday at 6:05 p.m. PST and Portland State on Jan. 27. The team continues to have trouble at the Dee Events Center, falling to 2-22 all-time when playing Weber State in Ogden. The Hornets' lone wins at the facility came during the 2005-06 and 2014-15 seasons.

Weber State won for the seventh time in its last nine games while improving to 11-7 overall, 4-2 in league, and 9-1 at home. The Wildcats got a huge night from sophomore guard Jerrick Harding, the conference's leading scorer. Harding had 31 points on 9-for-19 shooting, 5-of-8 from the 3-point line and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He also added four rebounds and zero turnovers in 34 minutes.

Weber State finished the game shooting 49 percent (26-53) from the field, 57 percent (13-23) from the 3-point line and 88 percent (15-17) from the free throw line. Sacramento State shot 40 percent (25-62) from the floor, 47 percent (8-17) from the arc and 75 percent (6-8) from the charity stripe. Although Sacramento State was outrebounded by a 38-30 margin, the Hornets held an 11-3 advantage in second chance points. The two teams combined for just 20 turnovers, including eight for the Hornets, their second lowest total of the season.

For Weber State, Harding (29), Brekkott Chapman (17 points, 2-3 3FG 13 rebounds) and Ryan Richardson (14 points, 4-7 3FG) combined for 60 of the Wildcats' 80 points and 11 of the team's 13 makes from long range.

Sacramento State was led by sophomore guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa who had 19 points, four rebounds and four assists in a career-best 39 minutes. He shot 7-for-12 from the field, including 5-of-6 from the 3-point line. The five 3-pointers tied a career high and the 19 points were just four shy of his career best. The New Zealand native has now scored in double figures eight times in the last 12 games after doing so just four times during his first 36 career games as a Hornet.

Joining Mauriohooho-Le'afa in double figures were forwards Justin Strings (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks) and Joshua Patton (10 points, three blocks, 4-of-6 shooting). Strings had an off shooting night, finishing 5-for-22 from the field, including 2-for-13 in the first half. Freshman Bryce Fowler had eight points and six rebounds in 36 minutes, and Jeff Wu added eight points. Jordan Tolbert, one of the Big Sky's best 3-point shooters, was limited to just four points, his second lowest scoring output of the season.