SACRAMENTO -- Trailing by seven points with 4:34 remaining, Sacramento State went on an 8-0 run to take a brief one-point lead but could not score the final 1:15 while falling to Idaho State, 67-64, on Thursday evening at the Nest.
In a game that featured a remarkable 19 lead changes, Sacramento State dominated statistically in the rebounding department (38-24), points in the paint (34-16), offensive rebounds (18-5) and second chance points (14-2). However, Idaho State snuffed those disparities with a 12-for-23 performance (52%) from the 3-point line that included sophomore guard Gary Chivichyan burying a career-high eight 3-pointers on just 11 attempts. Meanwhile, the Hornets were just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc, tied for their second lowest output of the season from long range.
In a game where neither team led by more than eight points the entire way, Idaho State got a 3-pointer from Chivichyan to take a 63-56 lead with 4:34 left. However, the Hornets responded with an 8-0 run over the next 3:17 of game clock that included three straight buckets from Justin Strings and a Bryce Fowler runner to give Sacramento State a 64-63 lead with 1:16 left. However, that would prove to be the Hornets' final tally of the evening.
On Idaho State's next possession, Jared Stutzman buried a contested 17-foot baseline jumper just before the shot clock expired to give the Bengals a one-point lead. After calling a timeout, Sacramento State whittled down the shot clock to two seconds before Fowler was stripped by Geno Luzcando. Stutzman was then fouled with eight seconds left and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw situation. However, the ball clanged hard off the front rim and found its way back to the top of the key to Idaho State. Eventually, Brandon Boyd was fouled with 3.8 seconds left and knocked down both free throws to give ISU a 67-64 lead.
Sacramento State inbounded the ball to Strings who dribbled up the floor and missed a contested 3-point look from the right wing that came after the buzzer sounded. Had the 3-pointer fell in, the shot would not have counted.
With the loss, the Hornets fall to 6-20 overall and 3-10 in the Big Sky Conference. Sacramento State has now lost five straight, which includes a two-point overtime loss at Montana last Saturday. The Hornets now have their first 20-loss season since the 2010-11 squad went 7-21. Sacramento State had defeated Idaho State at home on four consecutive occasions until this evening's loss.
The Hornets played without three injured guards tonight, including Marcus Graves (back), Jiday Ugbaja (leg) and Jeff Wu (leg).
Idaho State, which received all 67 of its points from starters, improved to 12-12 overall and 7-6 in the Big Sky. The Bengals already have seven more wins that all of last season (5-26) and four more conference victories (3-15).
Overall, Sacramento State shot 42% (25-60) from the field, 17% (3-18) from the 3-point line and 85% (11-13) from the free throw line. The Hornets attempted 15 more shots from the field than Idaho State, and converted on three more made buckets. Idaho State shot 49% (22-45) from the field, 52% (12-23) from the arc, and, like the Hornets, was 11-of-13 from the free throw line. The two teams combined for just 17 turnovers, including seven for the Hornets. However, two of those Sacramento State turnovers came during the final 2:08 of the contest.
After being held scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting in the first half, Sacramento State leading scorer Strings dropped 24 points in the second half on 10-of-15 shooting. He accounted for 24 of the Hornets' 33 points in the second half while also finishing the game with five rebounds in 37 minutes. Forward Joshua Patton posted career highs in points (20) and rebounds (9) while also adding four blocked shots in a career-high 34 minutes. Patton was limited to two points in the second half after scoring 18 in the first half.
Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had eight points, five assists and a pair of steals in 37 minutes, and Kevin Hicks had eight points and four rebounds. Forward Calvin Martin, who started his second consecutive game, finished with a season-high tying seven rebounds in 28 minutes. Six of those boards came on the offensive glass. Fowler had two points and five rebounds. All eight of the Hornets' bench points came from Hicks.
For Idaho State, Chivichyan had a game-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and 8-for-11 from the 3-point line. Stutzman had 20 points on 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, and Novak Topalovic added 13 points and a pair of blocked shots. No other Bengal player scored more than six points.
Just five games remain in the regular season, and three of those will come at home for the Hornets. Sacramento State will host Weber State on Saturday night at 7 p.m. for Whiteout The Nest, as the first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free t-shirt.