SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State used a 12-6 run over the final 4:07, and got huge contributions from Chibueze Jacobs (19 points) and Joshua Patton (10 points, 16 rebounds) on the way to a 70-67 win over Montana State on Thursday evening inside the Nest.
Jacobs' 19 points were a career high and part of a Hornet bench that outscored the Bobcats' bench, 42-7. Jacobs finished 6-for-8 from the field, 2-for-2 from distance and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Patton, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday today, posted his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 16 rebounds (7 on the offensive glass). The 16 rebounds are tied for the fourth best single-game mark in the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.).
In a game that featured 10 ties, seven lead changes and neither team leading by more than nine points, Sacramento State scored 12 of the game's final 18 points and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line over the last 1:12 to help ice the win.
With the help of an incredible run from Montana State's Tyler Hall, the Bobcats found themselves up three points (61-58) with under five minutes to play. Hall had just scored 17 straight Bobcat points, including five 3-pointers over a five-minute span.
However, after MSU took its 61-58 lead, it was all Hornets from there. During the game-sealing 12-6 run, which began with an Osi Nwachukwu jumper at the 4:07 mark, four different Sacramento State players scored. The Nwachukwu bucket started a 10-0 run that included a pair of free throws from Jacobs, a layup from Patton, and four free throws from Patton. After Patton's fourth free throw of the run settled in with 15 seconds to play, the Hornets had a comfortable 68-61 lead.
Tyler Hall scored six more points down the stretch, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the Hornets already had more than enough to win. Sacramento State made each of its last 10 free throws of the second half, and got huge makes from Patton at the 1:12 and 15-second marks, as well as makes from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa with nine seconds remaining.
Sacramento State, which has just one game left on the regular season schedule, improved to 14-14 overall and 8-11 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets have now won each of their last seven games on a Thursday, and improved to 8-2 on the program's favorite day of the week. Sacramento State has not lost on a Thursday since dropping its first conference road game to Montana back on Jan. 3.
Sacramento State remains in eighth place in the conference standings, and if the season ended today, the Hornets would play No. 9 Northern Arizona in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament in Boise on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. PST. Depending on the Hornets' result on Saturday against Montana, and other results around the Big Sky, Sacramento State could finish as the No. 7, 8 or 9 seed at the tournament.
The Hornets and Bobcats split the season series as Montana State won in Bozeman, 84-70, on Jan. 5. Sacramento State has now beaten every team in the Big Sky at least once this season except Northern Colorado and Montana. Both losses to Northern Colorado were by six points or less, and the Hornets will play Montana for the second and final time on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. That game will be the last chance for fans to see the Hornets inside the Nest.
Montana State, which entered the night winners of two straight and six of eight, dropped to 14-15 overall and 11-8 in the Big Sky. The Bobcats have beaten four conference teams on the road this season.
Montana State, which scored the first nine points of tonight's game, finished just 37% (23-62) from the field, 32% (9-28) from the 3-point line and 86% (12-14) from the free throw line. Sacramento State's defense had nine steals, forced 16 MSU turnovers, and outscored the Bobcats in points off turnovers by a wide margin (21-10).
When shots weren't falling early for the Hornets (3 for their first 15 from the field), Sacramento State's defense kept the game close. The Hornets finished the game shooting 41% (25-61) from the field and 84% (16-19) from the charity stripe. Sacramento State had 13 second-chance points, as Patton had seven of the team's 13 offensive rebounds.
Joining Patton and Jacobs in double figures for Hornets were Nwachukwu (12 points, 6-of-9 shooting and five rebounds) and Marcus Graves (12 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals). Jacobs (19), Nwachukwu (12) and Ethan Esposito (8) combined for 39 bench points. Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa added six points, four assists and four steals.
Hall finished with 34 of the Bobcats' 67 points as the senior guard finished 10-for-21 from the field, 8-of-19 from the 3-point line and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He scored 26 of Montana State's 35 second-half points.
Prior to Saturday's home game against Montana, Sacramento State seniors Kevin Hicks, Calvin Martin, Jordan Tolbert and Graves will be honored for their contributions to the program.
NOTES -- Sophomore swingman Bryce Folwer exited the game early in the first half and did not return after suffering a facial injury from an inadvertant Montana State elbow…Fowler, who is the team's fifth leading scorer and started tonight, played just two minutes…tonight was Whiteout the Nest as fans were treated to free Hornet Basketball t-shirts.
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