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HARDING’S 44 POINTS LEADS WEBER STATE TO 70-66 WIN OVER MEN’S BASKETBALL

HARDING’S 44 POINTS LEADS WEBER STATE TO 70-66 WIN OVER MEN’S BASKETBALL

OGDEN, Utah - Sacramento State played well enough to win on most nights, but was undone by Jerrick Harding's record-setting 44 points as Weber State defeated the Hornets, 70-66, on Thursday evening at the Dee Events Center.

Harding was a one-man show for Weber State, single-handedly beating the Hornets with an array of layups, midrange jumpers and 3-pointers from nearly everywhere on the floor. Some shots were spinning, off balance, twisting, and some were downright circus quality as the senior guard set the Dee Events Center record with 44 points. Harding, who scored 10 of the Wildcats' final 12 points, finished 14-for-21 from the field, 5-for-10 from the 3-point line and 11-for-11 from the free throw line.

Amazingly, the Wildcats finished with just three assists on their 23 made buckets as Harding routinely created his own shot on multiple Sacramento State defenders. Harding entered the game as the Big Sky's leading scorer (ninth in the nation) with an average of 21.7 points per game, and that average spiked after a game Weber State likely loses handily without his services. In the process, Harding became Weber State's all-time leading scorer and now has 2,099 career points.

The Wildcats did not have a deficit the final 25:21 of the contest, but the Hornets kept things close throughout, never trailing by more than 10 points. After the Wildcats took a 58-49 lead, the Hornets went on a 15-6 run over the next 5:37 to tie things at 64-64 with 2:05 to play. After Harding buried a pair of free throws, Joshua Patton answered with two free throws to once again tie the score at 66-66 with 1:42 left.

However, the Patton free throws were the last points the team scored as Sacramento State would miss two free throws and a contested dunk opportunity in the final minute. A Harding jumper in the paint with 1:25 left allowed Weber to take a 68-66 lead and a pair of Wildcat free throws with 14 seconds remaining provided the final score. Sacramento State missed a two 3-point attempts in the final 10 seconds.

The Hornets dropped their fourth straight while falling to 11-10 overall and 4-8 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State lost for the first time all year when scoring 60 points or more as the team had been 10-0. Earlier this season, the Hornets defeated Weber State inside the Nest by a 71-57 score.

The Wildcats won for the third time in the last four games and improved to 9-14 overall and 5-7 in league play. The Hornets dropped to 2-24 all-time when playing on Weber State's home floor.

Sacramento State shot 42% (23-55) from the field and 40% (8-20) from the 3-point line, but had trouble at the free throw line, connecting on just 57% (12-21) of its freebies. The Hornets held a big edge in rebounding (31-23) and second chance points (20-5). The Wildcats finished at 54% (23-44) from the floor, 44% (7-16) from long range and 90% (17-19) from the free throw line. Sacramento State went to the free throw line two more times than Weber State, but the Wildcats scored five more points from the charity stripe.

For the Hornets, guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa was impressive, finishing one point shy of his career high. The fourth-year senior scored 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, 5-for-7 from the 3-point line and 5-of-6 from the free throw line while adding two steals. Fourteen of those points came in the second half.

Patton finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, James Bridges had seven points on 2-of-3 shooting from distance, and Bryce Fowler added six points, five rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. Fowler, who has served as the team's sixth man the majority of the season, started his third game of the year.

Osi Nwachukwu had four points, three rebounds and a steal, Chibueze Jacobs five points, and Ethan Esposito five rebounds.

Harding was the only Weber State player to score in double figures, while Tim Fuller finished with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Sacramento State will play for the fourth time in eight days when the team travels to Pocatello to take on Idaho State on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. PST.