SACRAMENTO -- Seven Hornets scored in double figures, and Sacramento State had 27 assists on 41 made buckets on the way to a 103-55 exhibition win over Bethesda on Friday evening at the Nest. Tonight marked the first and only exhibition game for Sacramento State as the team opens the regular season next Friday at home against Simpson.
Not only did the Hornets have 27 assists, they spread the ball around all evening as seven different players scored between 10 and 15 points. In fact, 12 different players cracked the scoring column and the Hornets dominated every facet of the game. The Hornets got a 3-pointer from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa on the opening possession of the game and never trailed, opening up a lead as large as 58 points on three occasions in the second half.
Sacramento State used an incredible first half to take control of the game and never look back. The Hornets took a 64-28 lead into the locker room, and during that first half, shot 72% (26-36) from the field, 64% (7-11) from the 3-point line and forced 13 Bethesda turnovers. Four players had already scored in double figures by halftime, and Marcus Graves nearly had a double-double at the break (10 points, 9 assists).
Speaking of Graves, the fifth-year senior guard looked like the dynamic force fans witnessed two years ago. After missing last season with a back injury, Graves was in midseason form this evening, finishing with 10 points, 10 assists, three rebounds and a steal in 19 minutes. He shot 5-for-7 from the field, as all five starters and 10 different Hornets shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
The Hornets finished the game shooting 56% (41-73) from the field, 32% (9-28) from the 3-point line and 75% (12-16) from the free throw line. Sacramento State held substantial advantages in rebounds (48-28), points off turnovers (22-9), second chance points (19-4), fast break points (15-4) and points off the bench (52-17).
All five starters scored in double figures, comprised of guards Graves (10 points, 10 assists), Osi Nwachukwu (10 points, three steals, 4-5 FG, 2-2 3FG) and Mauriohooho-Le'afa (11 points, 3-5 3FG), forward Calvin Martin (10 points, five rebounds, 3-3 FG, 4-4 FT) and center Joshua Patton (10 points, six rebounds). Newcomer Ethan Esposito, a sophomore transfer from San Diego City College, led the Hornets with 15 points, five rebounds and two steals in just 16 minutes. He shot 7-for-8 from the field and 1-of-1 from the free throw line.
Rounding out the seven Hornets in double figures was sophomore swingman Bryce Fowler, who had a well-rounded line of 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and a steal on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from the line.
Kevin Hicks had seven points, Chibueze Jacobs six points and six rebounds, and Jamion Wright added six points. No Hornet played more than 22 minutes, and only three played over 16 minutes. Players to make their Sacramento State debuts tonight included Nwachukwu, Esposito, Grant Greabell (two points, three assists), Elijah McCullough (four points, four rebounds, one steal) and James Bridges (four rebounds).
Tonight's game marked the first of five straight games the Hornets will play in Sacramento, which includes each of the first four regular season contests. Three of those regular season games will be played inside the Nest while Sacramento State will also play UC Davis in the annual Golden 1 Center game on Nov. 20.
Next Friday's season opener against Simpson will begin at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets will also play inside the Nest against Cal Poly on Nov. 16 at 6:05 p.m. (first game of a doubleheader with the women), and Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 24 at 7:05 p.m.
NOTES -- The Hornets played in their brand new home white uniforms for the first time…there was no video stream offered for tonight's game, but video streams for all regular season home contests and games played in a Big Sky Conference venue will be available on Pluto TV and watchbigsky.com…tonight marked the first time Sacramento State had played Bethesda (regular season or exhibition)…Bethesda is located in Anaheim and is a member of the National Christian College Athletics Association (NCCAA)…the Flames play in the Pacific Christian Athletic Conference…tonight was Faculty/Staff Appreciation and many were recognized at halftime for their service to the University.