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MEN’S HOOPS REMAINS PERFECT AT HOME WITH A 73-59 WIN OVER CS FULLERTON

MEN’S HOOPS REMAINS PERFECT AT HOME WITH A 73-59 WIN OVER CS FULLERTON

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State received a game-high 21 points from senior guard Mikh McKinney and the Hornets closed the contest on an 11-0 run to defeat Cal State Fullerton, 73-59, in a non-conference men's basketball game Thursday evening at the Nest.

With the victory, the Hornets improved to 5-3 overall and a perfect 4-0 at home. Each of those four home victories have come by at least nine points and Sacramento State has defeated the opposition by an average of 22.3 points per game on the home floor. The Hornets are now 25-7 at the Nest dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

With the loss, Cal State Fullerton dropped to 3-7 this season, and Sacramento State now owns a 7-6 advantage in the all-time series with the Titans.

The Hornets went into halftime with a 33-24 lead, but Fullerton opened the second half on a 16-6 run, punctuated by a Moses Morgan 3-pointer which gave the Titans a 40-39 lead with 15:01 to play. That marked Cal State Fullerton's first lead since the 8:15 mark of the first half. However, the Hornets immediately responded with back-to-back jumpers from junior Cody Demps to retake the lead at 43-40 with 14:12 to play.

Sacramento State held a lead the final 14:45 of the contest, but there were some nail biting moments as the Titans stayed within striking distance, including a jumper from Morgan to draw the Titans within, 62-59, with 2:56 remaining. However, that was the last point of the game for Fullerton as Sacramento State went on its game-clinching run which included four points from both Demps and senior Zach Mills, and a 3-pointer from Dylan Garrity at the 1:23 mark to put the Hornets up eight points at 67-59.

Six of those 11 points during the game-clinching rally came at the free throw line as the Hornets went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe over the final 1:09 to help ice the victory. The Titans went 0-for-4 from the field with two turnovers during the game's final two minutes.

Although Fullerton finished the game shooting .500 (22-44) from the floor, the Hornets had a season-high 11 steals, including a career-best six from McKinney. The Hornets turned 15 Titan turnovers into 15 points, five of which came during the final two minutes. Sacramento State outscored Fullerton, 33-24, in the first half and 40-35 in the second half. The 73 points were the most scored by the Hornets this season against a Div. I opponent.

Sacramento State shot .472 (25-53) from the field, .333 (5-15) from the 3-point line and .947 (18-19) from the free throw line. In fact, the Hornets converted on each of their final 17 free throw attempts of the contest. The free throw percentage wasn't far off the school record of .955, set in 2003 when the Hornets went 21-of-22 against Lipscomb.

The Hornets held advantages in rebounding (29-25), points off turnovers (15-9) and bench points (23-11). Both teams had just four second-chance points and neither squad registered a fast break point. Sacramento State also committed a season-low nine turnovers.

"We had trouble making shots early in both the first and second halves, and I liked the way we didn't get down on ourselves," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "We continued to defend, the shots started to fall, and we did a nice job of taking care of the basketball. Defending the home floor is a must, and in my opinion, you should win every home game and hopefully that continues the rest of the season."

McKinney's 21 points came on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Already the Big Sky Conference's leader in steals, McKinney's six swipes inched his average to 3.0 steals per game. In addition, the third-year senior now has 971 career points and is just 29 shy of becoming the 13th player in school history to score 1,000 points. Thirteen of McKinney's 21 points tonight came in the second half.

McKinney was one of four Hornets to score in double figures, including senior Alex Tiffin (season-high 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor and 7-of-7 from the charity stripe), Demps (14 points, four assists, 10 points in the second half) and Garrity (11 points, five assists and a season-best three steals).

Tiffin has now converted on 13 straight free throw attempts and has healthy season shooting percentages of .567 from the field and .933 from the free throw line. It was Tiffin and Mills (seven points, team-high five rebounds) that combined for 22 of the Hornets' 23 bench points tonight. The 14 points for Demps were two shy of his season high and Garrity went 3-for-6 from distance to improve to .435 from the 3-point line this season.

Four Titans scored in double figures, comprised of Morgan (15 points, all 15 in the second half), Alex Harris (12 points, seven assists and five turnovers), Josh Gentry (11 points) and Steve McClellan (10 points, game-high seven rebounds).

The Hornets have just three remaining non-conference games on the schedule, including a home game on Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. against Portland. Sacramento State will be facing the Pilots for the first time since 2000.