SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Five Hornets scored in double figures, led by junior Mikh McKinney's game-high 14 points, as Sacramento State defeated UC Santa Cruz, 73-43, in a non-conference men's basketball game Friday evening at the Nest.
Both teams played their first game of the regular season tonight, and Sacramento State was able to win its season opener for the third consecutive year.
All 13 active Hornets on the roster appeared in the game, and nine cracked the scoring column. Sacramento State opened the game on a 12-1 run, and later pushed the lead to 28-5 with 4:46 remaining in the first half. In fact, the Banana Slugs were stuck on five points with just 4:27 left in the opening half until a three-pointer by Tyler Berkness cut the Hornet lead to 28-8.
UC Santa Cruz would get no closer than within 17 points of Sacramento State's lead the rest of the way. The Hornets led by at least 20 points the final 21:06 of the contest. Sacramento State outscored the Slugs by a 37-15 margin in the first half, and 36-28 in the second half.
"I like the way we were aggressive to start the game, and I felt like we dictated the way the game would be played during the first four minutes," Sacramento State sixth-year head coach Brian Katz said. "We were able to play a lot of guys tonight and try a number of combinations. Defensively, we never allowed UC Santa Cruz to have an opportunity to get back in the game."
McKinney, who was limited to just five minutes of playing time in the first half because of early foul trouble, was still able to score 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, 1-of-2 from the 3-point line and 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. He also added three rebounds, three assists, one block and a steal in 20 minutes.
Joining McKinney in double figures for the Hornets were senior Jordan Salley (11 points), juniors Dylan Garrity (11 points, game-high five assists) and Alex Tiffin (10 points, four rebounds), and true freshman Nick Hornsby (10 points, five rebounds). Salley was 4-for-4 from the field, Tiffin 5-for-6, and Hornsby 4-of-6.
The Hornets shot better than 52 percent from the floor in both halves before finishing the game at 56.5 percent (26-46), including four three-pointers. Sacramento State also got to the free throw line 29 times, converting on 17 of those freebies.
Of the Hornets' 26 made field goals, 17 came off assists as five different Hornets finished with at least two dimes. That included senior Kendell Groom who finished with a career-high tying four assists with no turnovers and one steal in 13 minutes.
Twelve different Hornets got into the rebounding column, including freshman center Eric Stuteville who finished with seven points, two blocked shots and a team-best six rebounds. Sacramento State outrebounded UC Santa Cruz, 41-31, while also holding big advantages in points in the paint (34-14) and fast break points (14-2).
Junior Zach Mills added five points and five rebounds in 13 minutes, and senior Joey Quigley had four points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 23 minutes.
Sacramento State, which does not play at home again until Nov. 30, begins a three-game road trip next Wednesday, Nov. 13, at CSU Bakersfield.
NOTES -- Sacramento State was playing UC Santa Cruz for just the third time in school history (3-0), and first time since the previous matchup on Jan. 30, 1987…UC Santa Cruz is an NCAA Div. III squad…Tiffin, Hornsby, Stuteville, Mills and sophomore Case Rada made their Hornet debuts tonight.
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