POCATELLO — Idaho State 7-foot center Novak Topalovic posted career highs in both points (25) and rebounds (17), and Sacramento State was ice cold from the free throw line (7-for-16, 44%) as the Bengals defeated the Hornets, 71-65, on Saturday evening at Reed Gym.
In a game that was close throughout, Sacramento State's inability to connect on a free throw was the biggest factor in the game. While the Hornets were posting their worst percentage of the season from the line (44%), Idaho State went 15-of-20 (75%), converting on eight more freebies.
After trailing by just one point at halftime (38-37), Sacramento State scored 28 points in the second half and shot 29% (9-31) from the field and 5-for-14 from the line during the half.
Though the Hornets remained within striking distance for much of the way, Idaho State never trailed the final 26:29. A 3-pointer from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa got the Hornets within, 62-60, with 2:12 to play. However, Idaho State closed on a 9-5 run that saw Sacramento State go 2-for-5 from the free throw line during that stretch. That included a front end of a 1-and-1 miss at the 1:40 mark. During the final two minutes, Sacramento State was 1-for-3 from the field, 2-for-5 from the line and committed a turnover. Over that same stretch, Idaho State was 2-for-2 from the field and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe.
With the loss, Sacramento State fell to 0-2 on its three-game Big Sky Conference road trip, and saw its record fall to 5-15 overall and 2-5 in league. The Hornets are now 0-9 on the road this season, and 0-4 against conference competition away from home. Prior to tonight's loss, Sacramento State had won six of the last eight meetings against Idaho State, including a 91-76 victory in the first round of last year's Big Sky Tournament in Reno.
Idaho State has now won nine of its last 13 games while improving to 9-9 overall and 4-3 in the Big Sky. That includes a 7-2 record at home, and 3-1 against league foes. Six of the last seven meetings between the Hornets and Bengals in Pocatello have been decided by six points or less.
The Hornets finished the game shooting 41% (25-61) from the field and 8-for-18 (44%) from the 3-point line, and the team's four turnovers were the lowest total of the season. Sacramento State had a healthy assist-to-turnover ratio (10 assists, 4 turnovers) while tallying its second highest steals total of the season (9). However, the free throws were a crusher. Sacramento State had shot better than 70 percent from the line in four of the last five games prior to tonight.
Idaho State shot 53% (26-49) from the field and overcame a 4-for-17 performance from the 3-point arc by converting on 15 free throws. The Bengals were forced into 14 turnovers and the Hornets held an 11-5 edge in points off miscues.
Idaho State's Topalovic was unstoppable all evening, finishing 12-for-14 from the field in 31 minutes. He had a double-double in the second half alone with 13 points and 10 boards. He also had a pair of dunks during the final two minutes, including a back-breaking flush with 44 seconds left to give ISU a 66-60 lead.
Four Sacramento State players scored in double figures, including guard Mauriohooho-Le'afa who had 14 points, four rebounds and was 3-for-7 from the 3-point line. Forward Justin Strings added 14 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 12 seconds remaining. The 14 points marked the 40th consecutive game Strings has scored in double digits.
Guard Jordan Tolbert had 13 points, five assists and three steals while shooting 3-for-7 from distance. The trio of Mauriohooho-Le'afa (3), Tolbert (3) and Strings (2) accounted for all eight Hornet 3-pointers. True freshman swingman Bryce Fowler had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field. Forward Joshua Patton added six points, but played just 16 minutes while dealing with constant foul trouble. Calvin Martin added two points and five rebounds in 13 minutes, and Jeff Wu had six points and a pair of steals.
The Hornets play just once next week when they conclude the three-game road trip on Saturday at Portland State. Tip-off is 1 p.m.
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February 21, 2018 MEN'S BASKETBALL BEGINS FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD TRIP THURSDAT AT NAU
February 17, 2018 STRINGS ACHIEVES HUGE MILESTONE; MEN’S HOOPS FALLS TO WEBER STATE
February 16, 2018 MEN'S BASKETBALL HOSTS WEBER STATE ON SATURDAY FOR WHITEOUT THE NEST
February 9, 2018 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS AT MONTANA ON SATURDAY NIGHT
February 7, 2018 MEN'S BASKETBALL LOOKS FOR SERIES SWEEP OF MONTANA STATE ON THURSDAY
February 3, 2018 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS AT HOME TO IDAHO
February 2, 2018 MEN'S BASKETBALL HOSTS IDAHO ON SATURDAY NIGHT AT 7 PM
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
January 19, 2018 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS AT IDAHO STATE ON SATURDAY NIGHT
January 18, 2018 LATE RUN DOOMS MEN’S BASKETBALL IN LOSS TO WEBER STATE
January 17, 2018 MEN'S HOOPS OPENS ROAD TRIP ON THURSDAY AT WEBER STATE
January 12, 2018 MEN'S BASKETBALL TO HOST MONTANA STATE ON SATURDAY FOR KIDS DAY
January 11, 2018 MONTANA USES BIG SECOND HALF TO BEAT MEN’S BASKETBALL, 78-66
January 10, 2018 MEN'S HOOPS BACK IN THE NEST ON THURSDAY VS. MONTANA AT 7 P.M.
January 3, 2018 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS FIRST BIG SKY ROAD GAME THURSDAY AT IDAHO
January 2, 2018 STRINGS RECEIVES BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK ACCOLADES
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
December 23, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS AT HOME TO UC SANTA BARBARA, 82-72
December 22, 2017 MEN'S HOOPS HOSTS UC SANTA BARBARA ON SATURDAY IN FINAL NON-LEAGUE GAME
December 21, 2017 MEN’S HOOPS FALLS TO PORTLAND, 80-75, IN GOLDEN 1 CENTER MATCHUP
December 20, 2017 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS PORTLAND AT THE GOLDEN 1 CENTER ON THURSDAY AT 5:30 PM
December 18, 2017 MEN'S HOOPS BACK AT HOME TUESDAY VS. CSUN
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
November 24, 2017 BACK AND FORTH GAME GOES FULLERTON’S WAY IN 68-63 WIN OVER MEN’S HOOPS
November 23, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL DROPS FIRST ROUND WOODEN LEGACY GAME TO SAN DIEGO STATE
November 21, 2017 UC DAVIS USES LATE RUN TO EVENTUALLY BEAT MEN’S BASKETBALL
November 20, 2017 MEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYS UC DAVIS ON TUESDAY AT THE GOLDEN 1 CENTER
November 17, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS ON THE ROAD AT SAN FRANCISCO
November 16, 2017 MEN'S BASKETBALL BACK ON THE ROAD FRIDAY NIGHT AT SAN FRANCISCO
November 8, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL SIGNS DAMIEN HIGH SCHOOL GUARD ELIJAH McCULLOUGH
November 7, 2017 MEN'S HOOPS OPENS REGULAR SEASON FRIDAY AT COLORADO STATE
October 23, 2017 GRAVES OUT FOR THE SEASON WITH INJURY
October 17, 2017 MEN’S BASKETBALL RELEASES ITS 2017-18 SCHEDULE
September 18, 2017 BOISE’S CENTURYLINK ARENA TO HOST BIG SKY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT FROM 2019-22
August 24, 2017 HORNSBY SIGNS CONTRACT TO PLAY PROFESSIONALLY IN GERMANY