DAVIS, Calif. – Sacramento State junior Mikh McKinney scored a game-high 25 points, and the Hornets went 10-for-10 from the free throw line during the final 28 seconds to beat UC Davis, 73-67, in a non-conference men's basketball game Tuesday evening at The Pavilion.
In a game where neither team led by more than six points the entire second half, it was Sacramento State that came through in the clutch, scoring 23 points over the game's final seven minutes. When it became apparent the game would be decided at the free throw line, the Hornets, who entered the contest at just 64.6 percent from the stripe this season, made all 10 of their freebies.
McKinney had six of those free throws, and Zach Mills and Cody Demps each had two free throws. McKinney's season-best 25 points came on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from the 3-point line and 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. He also added four assists and two steals in 35 minutes. All 10 of his points in the second half came at the free throw line.
"Tonight was a big game, and this was a nice win," McKinney said. "I made my first couple shots, got comfortable, and the basket started to look real big for me."
With the score tied at 50-50, Dreon Barlett knocked down three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Hornets the lead for good and a 56-50 advantage with 6:02 remaining. The Aggies closed to within two points of the lead at the 1:28, :25 and :13 second marks of the second half, but Sacramento State responded with a pair of free throws each time.
With the victory, the Hornets, who erased a 20-10 deficit midway through the first half to trail at halftime by just one point (31-30), improved to 2-2 on the young season. UC Davis, which was playing for the third time in four days, dropped to 3-4.
Sacramento State sixth-year head coach Brian Katz is now 4-2 against the Aggies, and a perfect 3-0 when playing in Davis. The victory also allowed the Hornets to continue their dominance of UC Davis, improving to 65-47 all-time against the Aggies.
"We started the game poorly, but gathered ourselves and salted our way back in the game," Katz said. "We needed to get some scoring punch from the bench tonight, and we got that, especially in the form of Dreon Barlett and Zach Mills."
The Hornet bench outscored the Aggies, 27-9, as Mills posted season highs in both points (10) and rebounds (7). Barlett knocked down arguably the biggest two 3-pointers of the game and finished with six points and a steal in 13 minutes.
Five Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of McKinney, Mills, Jordan Salley (11 points), Cody Demps (11 points, six rebounds) and point guard Dylan Garrity (10 points, six assists). Perhaps even more impressive than the points and assists for Garrity was he didn't turn the ball over despite playing a game-high 39 minutes. The five Hornets in double figures combined for 67 of the team's 73 points.
Sacramento State shot .478 (22-46) from the field, .529 (9-17) from the 3-point line and .833 (20-24) from the free throw line. That included making 20 of the team's last 22 attempts from the charity stripe. The Hornets also had a decided advantage over the Aggies in rebounds (27-20).
UC Davis shot .556 (25-45) from the field, .400 (6-15) from the 3-point line and .733 (11-15) from the free throw line. The Aggies got 20 points from forward Josh Ritchart, but only five of those points came in the second half. Joining him in double figures for the Aggies were Corey Hawkins (16 points, six rebounds) and Ryan Sypkens (10 points).
Tonight concluded a three-game road trip for the Hornets as the team will return home for the first time in nearly a month when they host UC Irvine this Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Sacramento State has just five games remaining on the non-conference schedule before opening Big Sky play on Jan. 2.