POCATELLO, Idaho — Bryce Fowler scored a team-high 18 points (14 in the second half), including six points in the final two minutes, to lead Sacramento State to a 63-59 road win at Idaho State on Saturday evening at Reed Gym.
In a second half that saw neither team lead by more than six points, Fowler had a spinning layup with 1:56 to play, a tip-in with 1:24 left, and the game-sealing free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining. Those free throws were clutch, and came with the Hornets leading 61-59. His free throws effectively iced the game and the Hornets were able to improve to 12-10 overall and 5-8 in the league.
The Hornets used a 12-2 run to go into halftime with a 27-24 lead. Sacramento State did not trail the final 16 minutes of the contest, and there were two ties in the final four minutes. However, each time Idaho State tied the game, Joshua Patton responded with buckets at the 3:26 and 2:43 marks to give the Hornets a two-point lead.
Fowler's layup at the 1:56 mark gave the Hornets a three-point lead, and his tip-in 32 seconds later gave the team a five-point lead at the 1:24 mark. Idaho State closed to within three points, but Brandon Davis made two free throws with 9.7 seconds remaining that gave Sacramento State a five-point lead. Idaho State's Jared Stutzman drained a corner 3-ball with under three seconds to play, but Fowler's free throws iced the win.
The victory snapped a season-long four game losing streak, and allowed the Hornets to win their first road game against a Big Sky Conference opponent. Sacramento State has just seven games remaining on the regular season schedule, and four of those will come at home.
Idaho State dropped o 6-16 overall and 3-10 in conference play. The Bengals have dropped eight straight, but six of those losses have come by six points or less, or went into overtime. Sacramento State was able to sweep the season series as the Hornets won, 68-49, on Jan. 4 at the Nest.
The Hornets outscored Idaho State in both the first (27-24) and second (36-35) halves. They shot 44% (27-61) from the field, a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line and were able to overcome a 3-of-19 performance from the 3-point line. Sacramento State, which committed just seven turnovers, outrebounded Idaho State, 36-30. The Hornets went to the free throw line only six times because Idaho State was whistled for just 11 fouls during the entire contest.
The Bengals shot 44% (24-54) from the field, 23% (3-13) from the 3-point line and 62% (8-13) from the free throw line.
Fowler's 18 points were a season high, and one shy of a career best. He finished 8-of-12 from the field with seven rebounds, two assists and just one turnover in 35 minutes. Forward Ethan Esposito also had a big game, finishing with 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. He battled constant foul trouble, and had four fouls despite playing just 17 minutes. Fourteen of Fowler's points came in the second half, and 12 of Esposito's points came in the first half.
Four Hornets scored in double figures, including Joshua Patton who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Like Esposito, Patton also battled foul trouble with four fouls in 23 minutes. Guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa added 11 points and five rebounds.
For Idaho State, Malik Porter had a career-high 31 points on 12-for-22 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds, and drew 10 of the Hornets' 19 fouls. Each of ISU's five starters logged big minutes, and Sacramento State outscored the Bengal bench by a 19-8 margin.
The Hornets, who wrapped up a stretch of four games in eight days, return home next week to play games inside the Nest against Southern Utah on Thursday and Northern Colorado on Saturday. Both of those games begin at 7:05 p.m.
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