MISSOULA, Mont. — Sacramento State gave conference unbeaten Montana a major scare on the road before eventually falling, 71-69, in overtime on Saturday evening at Dalhberg Arena.
The Hornets were playing a Montana squad that entered the game 12-0 in league, 10-0 at home, and was beating Big Sky Conference opponents by an average of 16.0 points per game. In fact, the Hornets probably should have won the game, but had a tough time converting down the stretch.
A 3-pointer from Sacramento State's Bryce Fowler gave the Hornets a 61-56 lead with 2:55 left, but the Hornets would not score again in regulation. During that stretch, the Hornets were 0-for-2 from the field and 0-for-3 from the free throw line with a turnover. Meanwhile, Montana would close the final 2:21 on a 5-0 run to force overtime. Sacramento State's Justin Strings missed two free throws with 2:03 remaining, and James Herrick missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity with 11 seconds left and the game tied at 61-61. The Grizzlies had a chance to win but Michael Oguine missed a contested shot as time expired.
That set up the first overtime of the season for Sacramento State, and the Grizzlies were able to win the extra session by a 10-8 margin. No team led by more than four points in an extra session where both teams did not shoot particularly well. The Hornets were 2-for-8 from the field while Montana was 2-for-9. The biggest difference was the free throw line where Montana was 6-for-8 while the Hornets were 3-for-4.
Chibueze Jacobs gave the Hornets their only lead of overtime (62-61) at the 3:09 mark after he split a pair of free throws. Both teams went back and forth until Montana would eventually take a 69-66 lead at the 1:09 mark. The Hornets had two possessions to cut into the deficit or tie, but could not convert either time. That included an inbounds pass with seven seconds left that was stolen by Ahmaad Rorie. Oguine would then make a free throw to give the Grizzlies a two-possession lead (70-66) with just under seven seconds remaining. Fowler hit another 3-ball at the two second mark, and Oguine split two free throws after quickly being fouled. Herrick grabbed a rebound off the Oguine free throw miss, and his full-court heave at the buzzer was off the mark as time expired.
The Hornets were playing without three rotation guys during the final 11 minutes of game clock. Calvin Martin, who started his first game of the season tonight, fouled out with 6:39 remaining in regulation. At that same time, guard Jeff Wu was injured and did not return. Then, to make matters even tougher, starting forward Joshua Patton, who had 14 points and eight rebounds, fouled out with 5:59 left. After Patton fouled out, Montana outscored the Hornets, 19-13, the rest of the way.
With the win, Montana improved to 20-5 overall, 13-0 in the Big Sky, and 11-0 at home. The Grizzlies are attempting to become the first Big Sky team to finish a conference season undefeated since Weber State accomplished the feat in 2002-03. The win also allowed Montana to sweep the season series against Sacramento State, which included a 78-66 win at the Nest on Jan. 11. Montana has now won 13 straight games, and has not lost since a 66-63 defeat on the road at Washington on Dec. 22.
Sacramento State, which led by as many as nine points midway through the second half, lost its fourth straight while dropping to 6-19 overall and 3-9 in the Big Sky. The Hornets are now 1-11 on the road this season, and 1-6 against conference opposition. The Hornets were attempting to win in Missoula for the second straight season.
Both teams combined to commit just 20 turnovers (SAC 11, UM 9), but Montana owned a big advantage in points off miscues (14-5). The Hornets shot 43% (25-58) from the field, 62% (8-13) from the 3-point line and 69% (11-16) from the free throw line. The Grizzlies shot 38% (24-63) from the field, 32% (7-22) from long range and 76% (16-21) from the free throw line. Both teams finished with 14 assists, and Montana held a 41-37 advantage on the glass.
For Sacramento State, Strings led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in a career-high 44 minutes. In the process, he extended his streak of scoring in double figures to 45 straight games, the fifth longest active streak in the nation. He also has 1,441 career points, six shy of fifth all-time in Sacramento State history behind Hornet Hall of Famer Lynn Livie (1,447).
Patton's 14 points and eight rebounds came in just 27 minutes on 4-for-7 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in a career-high 42 minutes, and Fowler had eight points, five rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers in a season-best 42 minutes. Martin had two points, five rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes as he made his first start in a Hornet uniform.
Sacramento State had used the same starting lineup in 19 straight games until the Hornets opted to go bigger tonight, starting Martin in place of Wu. Strings, Patton, Fowler and Mauriohooho-Le'afa are the other starters. Jordan Tolbert added seven points and two assists in 23 minutes off the bench.
Montana was led by Oguine's 25 points and seven rebounds in 44 minutes while Jamar Akoh had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Rorie scored 10 points, but had a brutal shooting night, going 4-for-17 from the field and 0-of-6 from the 3-point line.
With just six games left on the regular season schedule, four of those games for the Hornets will come at home. That stretch begins next week inside the Nest for games on Thursday vs. Idaho State and Saturday vs. Weber State. Both games will tip at 7:05 p.m.
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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