SACRAMENTO -- Senior center Joshua Patton had a game-high 23 points (10-13 FG) and Sacramento State rode a big first half to a 64-57 win over Northern Arizona on Thursday evening inside the Nest.
The Hornets went into halftime with a 41-21 lead only to see the Lumberjacks storm back with 11-0 run early in the second half, and later an 8-0 run to slice the deficit to five points (55-50) with five minutes to play. However, that was as close as NAU would get as Sacramento State scored on five of its final seven possessions to put things away.
The victory allowed Sacramento State to improve to 9-4 overall, 6-0 at home, and 2-2 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets are now 2-0 on their season-long three-game homestand that ends on Saturday against Weber State at 7 p.m. The team kicked off the homestand last week with a 19-point win over Idaho State.
The Hornets' 9-4 overall record is the best mark after 13 games since the program joined the Div. I ranks in 1991, and the top mark since the 1988-89 Div. II Hornet squad was also 9-4.
In addition, Sacramento State has won its first six home games for the first time since the 2005-06 team won each of its initial seven games inside the Nest. Dating back to 2012, Sacramento State is now a combined 73-30 at home, good for a lofty .709 winning percentage.
The loss dropped Northern Arizona to 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the conference. All three of those league losses for NAU have come on the road. Sacramento State is 17-39 all-time against the Lumberjacks, but 7-6 in the last 13 meetings between the two teams.
During the first half, Sacramento State shot a blistering 65% (17-26) from the field and outrebounded NAU, 19-6, to take a commanding 41-21 lead into halftime. However, the second half was much different as the Hornets went ice cold from the field, shooting 32% in the second half and 0-for-6 from long range. That allowed NAU to get back into the game. After Sacramento State had taken a game-high 22-point lead early in the second half, the Lumberjacks used a 11-0 run to get back within, 47-36, with 12:21 to play.
Later, an 8-0 NAU run spanning just three minutes had the Lumberjacks trailing 55-50 with 5:01 left. However, the Hornets got a pair of buckets from Patton, a jumper from Brandon Davis, and the team went 3-of-4 from the free throw line over the final 45 seconds. That included Chibueze Jacobs hitting both free throws after NAU had cut the deficit to six points with under a minute to play.
The Hornets finished the game shooting 48% (26-54) from the field, 3-of-10 from the 3-point line and 9-for-12 from the charity stripe. Sacramento State dominated the glass to the tune of a 36-27 advantage. That included 12 offensive rebounds that turned into 15 big second chance points. Sacramento State has now held 11 of its 13 opponents under 60 points this season, and has outrebounded the opposition 10 times.
NAU shot 42% (23-55) from the field, 4-for-11 from the 3-point line and 7-of-9 from the free throw line. The Lumberjacks committed 14 turnovers and Sacramento State owned a 19-8 advantage in points off miscues.
Patton, who was named to Mid-Major Player of the Year Watch List earlier today, finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot. He went 10-for-13 from the field, and now has 1,028 career points, the 10th best mark in the program's Div. I era. The fifth-year senior has started 76 consecutive games and scored in double figures in each of his last six games.
He was joined in double figures by Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3-5 3FG) and Ethan Esposito (10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocked shots). Forward Osi Nwachukwu had a big game with six points, and career highs in both steals (5) and blocked shots (3). Point guard Brandon Davis had six points, five rebounds and three steals, and Bryce Fowler added six points and four boards.
The Hornets received just eight points from their bench, as the five starters combined for 56 of the team's 64 points.
Brooke DeBisschop led three NAU players in double figures with 15 points and five rebounds.
The Hornets return to the Nest in two days when they will host Weber State on Saturday at 7 p.m. Saturday is Alumni Night where all former Sacramento State men's basketball players will be admitted free, and there will be a pregame social at 5:30 p.m. inside the Athletics Center.
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