PORTLAND — Sacramento State used a big second half, including a late 16-3 run, on the way to a 71-61 road victory at Portland State on Saturday afternoon at the Pamplin Sports Center on the Lewis & Clark College campus. Portland State is playing all its home games at Lewis & Clark this year while the new Viking Pavilion is being built.
After trailing, 33-26, at halftime, it was all Sacramento State in the second half as the Hornets outscored the Vikings, 45-28. In fact, the Hornets didn't take their first lead of the game until there was 12:48 remaining in the contest. Overshadowed by the big second half was Sacramento State's defense which limited the nation's third highest scoring offense to a season-low 61 points. The Vikings, who entered the game averaging 89.3 points per contest, scored under 35 points in both halves and were limited to just 34% (22-64) shooting from the field.
In addition, the Hornets were able to secure a 17-16 edge in points off turnovers against a Portland State squad that is currently first in the nation in turnover margin. It was an incredible second half that saw the Hornets nearly double their point total from the first half, and and finish the second shooting 57% (13-23) from the field, 40% (2-5) from the 3-point line and 81% (17-21) from the free throw line. After starting the game 1-for-6 from the free throw line, the Hornets went 21-for-25 from the charity stripe the rest of the way.
With Portland State leading, 48-47, and 8:12 to play, Sacramento State went on a 16-3 run spanning the next 5:19 of game clock to take a game-high 63-51 lead with two minutes to play. Four different Hornets scored during the run, including Justin Strings who had seven points. Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa got the run going with a 3-ball, and Strings followed with an emphatic one-hand dunk on a break that resulted in a 3-point play. By the time a pair of Joshua Patton free throws finished the run with 2:01 to play, Sacramento State held a 12-point lead and the game was in hand.
Junior guard Jordan Tolbert had an incredible game, finishing with a career-high 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, 2-for-4 from the 3-point line and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Tolbert kept the Hornets in the game in the first half when he scored 15 of the team's 26 points. He would add 11 more points in the second half, and surpass his previous career high of 19 points, set on a pair of occasions this year.
With the victory, Sacramento State was able to conclude its three-game road trip in winning fashion and improve to 6-15 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference. Coupled with the Hornets' 80-75 home win over the Vikings earlier this year, Sacramento State was able to sweep the season series against a Portland State squad that has a 13-8 overall record which includes road wins at Stanford and Cal, and a two-point loss to Butler. The Vikings lost for just the second time all season at home, and saw their conference record dip to 3-5.
Sacramento State was also able to win its first road game of the season as the Hornets had been 0-9 when playing on an opponent's home floor. The Hornes will look forward to some home cooking as the team will play six of its final 10 conference games of the season at home, including next week vs. Eastern Washington on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday.
The Hornets finished the game shooting 49% (23-47) from the field and 71% (22-31) from the free throw line. After committing 12 turnovers in the first half, Sacramento State had just five miscues in the second half. The team also had nine steals and forced Portland State into 18 turnovers. Sacramento State got 28 points off its bench, 26 of those coming from Tolbert.
Joining Tolbert in double figures for Sacramento State were Strings and Patton who both finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Patton was big defensively as well, finishing with three blocks, a steal, and he altered many Portland State shots. Strings scored 13 of his points in the second half, and has now scored in double figures in a ridiculous 41 straight games. That continues to be the sixth longest active streak in the nation. Strings was 4-for-8 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line while Patton was 5-for-9 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the stripe. The 15 points for Patton were just three shy of his career high.
Guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa added seven points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal in a game-high 38 minutes, and freshman Bryce Fowler had four points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 33 minutes.
For Portland State, which was playing without leading scorer Deontae North, only one Viking finished in double figures. Bryce Canda had 19 points and three steals and connected on four of PSU's seven made treys. Ryan Edwards and Brandon Hollins both had seven points and eight rebounds.
Both of the Hornets' home games next week against Eastern Washington on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday will be 7:05 p.m. tip-offs.