SACRAMENTO -- On a night when Sacramento State's Justin Strings became Sacramento State's Div. I era career leading scorer, Weber State put on a shooting display in an 83-73 victory over the Hornets on Saturday evening at the Nest.
With 27 points tonight (his fourth straight game with 20+ points), Strings now has 1,492 career points, the most in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1991-pres.). He surpassed previous leader Loren Leath, who scored 1,489 from 2005-09. Strings scored his 27 points in his usual assortment of ways, including runners, floaters, off balance jumpers, twisting layups and more. He shot 12-of-21 from the field while also adding team highs in rebounds (6) and assists (5) without committing a turnover in 39 minutes. It was Strings who continued to keep the Hornets in the game, accounting for 37 percent of the team's scoring production.
However, Strings' effort was not enough as Weber State shot 58% (32-55) from the field, 52% (11-21) from the 3-point line and 89% (8-9) from the free throw line. It marked the second straight game Sacramento State has yielded more than 11 3-pointers as Idaho State buried 12 on Thursday night. The Wildcats, who never trailed, scored 41 points in the first half and 42 more in the second half.
Weber State held a 41-32 halftime lead, and pushed the advantage to 17 points midway through the second half. The Hornets would get as close as seven points after Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa buried a 3-pointer to get within, 77-70, at the 1:11 mark but Weber State immediately responded with a bucket to put the game away.
The Hornets announced this evening that junior guard Jeff Wu will miss the remainder of the season with a leg injury. That's three Sacramento State guards that are out for the season, and each figured to be a big part of the rotation. Marcus Graves, who had started 62 straight games, has missed the entire season after undergoing back surgery while Jiday Ugbaja has missed all but six games with a leg injury. Wu had played 25 games (22 starts) before going down late in the game at Montana.
The loss dropped Sacramento State to 6-21 overall and 3-11 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets have dropped six straight games, which includes two losses by three points or less over the last week. Sacramento State is now 5-6 at home, and has dropped four straight inside the Nest, a rarity for a program that is 57-24 at home dating back to the 2012-13 season. In fact, the four-game home losing streak is the longest since the 2011-12 team dropped five in a row at home.
Meanwhile, Weber State remains the hottest team in the league as the Wildcats have now won nine straight while improving to 19-7 overall and 12-2 in the conference. Weber State remains in second place in the Big Sky standings, just a half game behind first-place Montana (13-2) who lost its second game in a row this evening.
The Wildcats were able to sweep the season series from Sacramento State, which included an 80-64 win in Ogden on Jan. 18. Prior to this evening, Sacramento State had defeated Weber State in two of the last three meetings inside the Nest.
The Hornets played well on offense, committing a season-low three turnovers while shooting 51% (31-61) from the field and 55% (6-11) from the 3-point line, but could not overcome Weber's hot shooting. The Wildcats also owned a commanding 34-23 advantage on the glass. Sacramento State held a 13-2 edge in points off turnovers and managed a 10-6 advantage in second chance points.
Four Hornets scored in double figures, including Mauriohooho-Le'afa who had 15 points (5-11 FG, 3-3 3FG), two blocked shots and two steals. Jordan Tolbert added 11 points on 3-of-4 from distance, and Joshua Patton had 10 points and four rebounds. Freshman Bryce Fowler had six points, five rebounds and two assists.
Weber State, which used just seven players in tonight's game, got 21 points from the Big Sky's leading scorer Jerrick Harding. The sophomore guard shot 9-of-14 from the field and 2-for-3 from distance. Zach Braxton added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Ryan Richardson had 16 points on 4-for-8 from the 3-point line.
Next week, the Hornets will embark upon their final Big Sky regular season road trip as they play at Northern Arizona on Thursday at 5:35 p.m. PST, and at Southern Utah on Saturday at 11:35 a.m. PST.