SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Senior Alex Tiffin scored a team-high 17 points and sophomore Eric Stuteville added 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds to lead Sacramento State to a 77-68 men's basketball exhibition victory over Menlo on Friday evening at The Nest.
The Hornets opened the game on a 15-2 run and led by double figures nearly the entire way until a late Menlo run shaved the lead to nine points with 11 seconds remaining.
Coupled with the Hornets' 68-45 win over Holy Names on Tuesday, Sacramento State completed its two-game exhibition schedule and now will focus on the season opener at 13th-ranked Gonzaga on Friday, Nov. 14. For the second straight game, Sacramento State seventh-year head coach Brian Katz used all 14 players on the roster, and each of those players received at least five minutes of playing time. In fact, the second half saw Katz play four of his five starters eight minutes of less after the Hornets opened up a lead as large as 24 points.
The Hornets knocked down seven of their first eight field goal attempts of the game to open up the 15-2 lead. Four different Hornets scored during the run, including Nick Hornsby who had six points on 3-of-3 shooting during the spurt. Sacramento State kept the pressure on, and eventually led 30-12 on a pair of Dylan Garrity free throws with 10:23 left in the first half.
Sacramento State would then lead by at least 15 points for over 28 minutes of game clock until Menlo went on a 17-2 run during the game's final 5:01 to make what had been a laugher into a single-digit loss.
The Hornets shot .524 (33-63) from the field, .308 (4-13) from the 3-point line and held a large rebounding advantage (44-22) over the Oaks. In addition, Sacramento State outscored Menlo in second chance points, 19-2, and did not allow a fast break point all evening. In fact, Menlo had just two offensive rebounds the entire game. The Hornets led, 50-28, at the break after limiting Menlo to .367 shooting in the first half.
"I liked the way our guys played tonight and I felt like they took care of business from the opening whistle," Katz said. "We played with intensity on the defensive end and on the glass, and offensively, we got it inside and took advantage of our strength and size.
"There is no question we improved from our first exhibition game and we've been able to work on some things over these two games. It was nice to get our guys under the lights in a competitive environment and kind of work out the nerves. We have more work ahead of us. Not only do we play the 13th ranked team in the country to begin the year, but we also play three games over the first six days of the season, so these exhibition games really served us well."
Tiffin's 17 points came on 8-of-9 shooting from the field as the senior big man also had five rebounds and one assist in just 12 minutes of play. Tiffin averaged 12.5 points on .786 (11-14) shooting during the two exhibition games. Fellow big man Stuteville, a 6-foot-11, 250-pound sophomore, had another solid game as his 13 points came on 6-of-9 shooting and the nine rebounds were two more than any other player on the floor. He finished the exhibition season averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 boards on .619 shooting (13-21) from the floor.
Hornsby rounded out the three Hornets in double figures as the sophomore had 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal on 5-of-6 shooting in just 16 minutes. Junior Cody Demps had seven points and seven rebounds, Garrity had eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, and Mikh McKinney had two points and a game-high six assists without a turnover in 23 minutes.
Twelve of the team's 14 players scored points, including senior Zach Mills' four points and five rebounds. Both sophomore Dreon Barlett and freshman Marcus Graves finished with five points. Graves, who is a true freshman from San Diego, played 17 minutes, tied for the fourth most minutes on the squad.
Menlo's Tyler Evans put on a shooting display, scoring a game-high 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, including 7-of-11 from the three-point line. Fourteen of those points came in a second half in which he went 4-of-5 from distance. Ben Graham added 10 points and four assists and Mikey Eggleton had nine points, five assists and a pair of steals.
The Oaks finished the game shooting .458 (11-24) from the three-point line and were whistled for just eight fouls the entire contest.
The Hornets and Gonzaga will play at 6:05 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14. The game will be televised on Root Sports. After the Gonzaga game, Sacramento State will play at UC Riverside on Nov. 17 before the team's home opener against Simpson on Nov. 19.
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