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Men's Basketball

 

BIG SECOND HALF IGNITES MEN’S BASKETBALL TO 79-72 WIN OVER NORTHERN COLORADO

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State's Mikh McKinney led four players in double figures with a career-high 26 points, and the Hornets ripped off 47 second-half points to defeat Northern Colorado, 79-72, in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at the Nest.

In a game where both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from the three-point line, Sacramento State overcame a 10-point second-half deficit by going on a 32-11 run spanning 11 minutes of game clock to take a commanding 11-point lead (66-55) with 6:05 remaining. In fact, prior to that Hornet run, Northern Colorado went on a 29-11 spurt spanning parts of both the first and second halves to take a 44-34 lead with 17:11 left in the contest.

The Hornets, who trailed, 35-32 at halftime, put together one of their better halves of the season in the second frame, shooting 57.7 percent (12-24) from the field, 66.7 percent (6-9) from the three-point line and 11-of-13 from the free throw line. Sacramento State outscored the Bears, 47-37, in the second half, and withstood a late Northern Colorado rally to get the win.

After Sacramento State took its game-high 11-point lead with 6:05 to play, Northern Colorado scored on six straight possessions to cut the lead to 72-69 with 1:51 remaining in the contest. However, the Hornets were able to whittle away 66 seconds off the clock on their next possession (which included an offensive rebound), and received a clutch three-pointer from Joe Eberhard as the shot clock was set to expire to go back up six points (75-69) with 45 seconds left to play. That proved to be the dagger as the Bears scored just three points the rest of the way, and the Hornets went 4-of-4 from the free throw line over the final 15 seconds to seal the victory.

Sacramento State improved to 10-8 overall and 5-5 in the Big Sky with the win. At the midway point of the conference season, the Hornets are now 7-2 at home, have won three straight inside the friendly confines, and are 4-1 against Big Sky teams. The Hornets' seven home wins are the most since the 2006-07 squad won eight, and the team's 10-8 overall record is the best after 18 games since the 2005-06 squad was 13-5.

Sacramento State also improved to 4-0 when wearing its gold jerseys this season, and 31-13 when wearing the color dating back to 2003.

Northern Colorado, which had won seven of the last eight meetings in the series between the two teams, dropped to 5-13 overall and 3-7 in the conference.

The Hornets put on a shooting clinic, finishing the game 54.0 percent (27-50) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-19) from the three-point line and 84.2 percent (16-19) from the free throw line. The field goal percentage and three-pointers made were both the second best marks of the season. In addition, the team's 79 points were the most against a conference opponent, and the most since dropping 85 points in the second game of the year against CSU Bakersfield.

Northern Colorado also shot well, connecting on .527 (29-55) from the field and .458 (11-24) from the three-point line. However, the Hornets converted on 13 more free throws (16-3), and committed just five turnovers (including none in the second half). In fact, Sacramento State outscored Northern Colorado in points off turnovers by a 22-4 margin. Of the Bears' 12 turnovers, the Hornets turned those miscues into points all but one time. In addition, after Northern Colorado dominated the glass in the first half, outscoring the Hornets, 13-2, in second chance points, Sacramento State corrected the problem at halftime and limited the Bears to just two offensive rebounds in the second half.

No one on the floor tonight was better than McKinney as the sophomore shooting guard surpassed his previous career high of 23 points by taking just 12 shots from the field. The Union City, Calif., native's 26 points came on 9-of-12 shooting from the field, 3-of-5 from the three-point line and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. He also had four rebounds, played a game-high 37 minutes and put together a few acrobatic, crowd-pleasing jumpers during the game. The 26 points are the second most scored by a Sacramento State player this season.

McKinney was joined in double figures by center Konner Veteto (14 points, five rebounds), John Dickson (11 points, game-high three steals) and Eberhard (10 points). Jackson Carbajal played 10 highly productive minutes off the bench in the second half, finishing with nine points and three rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. All nine of his points came during the team's 32-11 second-half run.

Despite not starting tonight's game while nursing a back injury that forced him out of Thursday's contest, point guard Dylan Garrity ran the floor impressively, accumulating a season-high nine assists with just one turnover in 29 minutes played. He scored all seven of his points and had seven assists in the second half.

Northern Colorado had four players score in double figures, comprised of Tevin Svihovec (21), Derrick Barden (16 points, game-high nine rebounds), Tate Unruh (11) and Emmanuel Addo (11). Svihovec also had seven assists, six rebounds and shot 9-of-13 from the floor.

Sacramento State will hit the road for its lone game next week at Southern Utah on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. PST. The following week, the Hornets will play three times at home against Northern Arizona (Feb. 4), Eastern Washington (Feb. 7) and Portland State (Feb. 9).

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