SACRAMENTO -- Idaho State's Brandon Boyd converted a layup with 1.8 seconds left, capping a frantic final 21 seconds as the Bengals defeated Sacramento State, 72-70, on Saturday evening inside the Nest.
The Hornets, who trailed by five points with under 30 seconds to play, got a 3-pointer from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa at the 21-second mark followed by a Jordan Tolbert steal and Marcus Graves runner to tie the score with nine seconds remaining. However, ISU, which elected to not use a timeout, dribbled up the floor, and Boyd eventually found a seam in the Hornet defense and raced to the cup for a layup with just under two seconds to play.
Sacramento State immediately inbounded the ball and Tolbert got off a clean look from 45 feet, but his desperation heave was just to the right of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The Hornets held a 60-55 lead with 4:50 remaining, but Idaho State ripped off a 15-5 run over a four-minute stretch that gave the Bengals the five-point lead with 41 seconds remaining. It was a Boyd contested 3-pointer at the 41-second mark that capped the spurt.
In a game that featured eight ties and five lead changes, Sacramento State outscored Idaho State, 42-39, in the second half after being outscored in the first half by a 33-28 margin. The Hornets held a lead as large as seven points (56-49) with 8:49 remaining, and had two possessions to increase the advantage, but ISU eventually sliced the lead to one point three minutes later. Both teams went back and forth with neither leading by more than five points the final 7:01 of the contest.
Sacramento State shot well from the field, finishing at 49% (27-55) from the floor and 53% (9-17) from the 3-point line. Usually, at home, those numbers will get a team the victory. However, one major factor went against the Hornets this evening....free throws. While Idaho State was 13-for-14 from the free throw line, Sacramento State was just 7-of-14 from the line. Graves was 6-for-7 from the charity stripe while the rest of the Hornets combined to go 1-for-7.
Speaking of Graves, the fifth-year senior and team co-captain had a monster game for Sacramento State, finishing with a season-high 27 points. That number was just two shy of his career high, as he finished 10-for-16 from the field and 1-of-3 from the 3-point line. He scored 21 of the Hornets' 42 points in the second half on 7-for-10 shooting. Graves, who was honored before the game for recently scoring his 1,000th career point, is now averaging a team-best 15.5 points per contest.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped its fifth straight after beginning the season with a 6-2 record. The Hornets are now 6-7 overall and 0-4 in the Big Sky for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Those four league losses have come against the first, third, fourth and fifth place teams in the league. That includes Idaho State which won its fourth road game while improving to 7-7 overall and 3-2 in the Big Sky. The Bengals also have road wins at Boise State, Santa Clara and Idaho.
Idaho State shot 42% (25-59) from the field, 35% (9-26) from the 3-point line and 93% (13-14) from the free throw line. The Bengals also had a 36-31 advantage in the rebounding department and had 20 assists on their 25 made buckets.
Joining Graves in double figures for the Hornets were Mauriohooho-Le'afa (16) and Joshua Patton (11). Mauriohooho-Le'afa knocked down 4-of-8 from distance and had a pair of blocks while Patton had 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks before fouling out with 1:27 remaining.
Bryce Fowler had six points, eight rebounds, four assists and a steal while knocking down two 3-pointers over a 75-second span to help give the Hornets their seven-point lead with 8:49 left. Osi Nwachukwu had four points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal, while both Chibueze Jacobs and James Bridges had three points.
Four Idaho State players scored in double figures, comprised of starters Jared Stutzman (13), Chier Maker (12), Kelvin Jones (12) and Boyd (10). Boyd had eight of those 10 points in the second half, including five during the final 41 seconds.
Sacramento State will play again on the road next week at Northern Arizona on Thursday and Southern Utah on Saturday. Thursday's game is a 5:35 p.m. PST start.