BIG NIGHT FOR McKINNEY, BUT MEN’S HOOPS LOSES THRILLER TO PORTLAND

BIG NIGHT FOR McKINNEY, BUT MEN’S HOOPS LOSES THRILLER TO PORTLAND

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Despite an incredible performance from senior guard Mikh McKinney and the Hornets having two possessions to take the lead in the game's final minute, Sacramento State fell to Portland, 80-75, in a non-conference men's basketball game Sunday evening at the Nest.

McKinney put forth one of the better performances in the Nest's 59-year history after he posted 32 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and seven steals while playing all but one minute of the contest. McKinney shot 13-of-21 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line while the points and steals were career highs. If that wasn't enough, McKinney, who is a third-year senior and team co-captain, became the 13th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. His jumper with 5:36 to play allowed him to reach the milestone mark and he now has 1,003 career points despite playing less than two and a half seasons.

In a highly competitive game that featured many tense moments, the Hornets used a 9-2 run spanning just under two and a half minutes to cut the deficit to 76-75 with 1:11 to play. Three-pointers by Dreon Barlett and Dylan Garrity on consecutive possessions highlighted the run with Garrity's shot bringing the Hornets as close as they had been (one point) since the 14:59 mark of the second half.

After the Garrity 3-ball, the Pilots' Alec Wintering missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity and the Hornets grabbed the rebound. Sacramento State was looking for its first lead of the game, but turned the ball over with 32 seconds to play. Nick Hornsby forced a turnover on Portland's next possession near half court, and McKinney grabbed the ball and raced up the floor on a 3-on-2 break with under 15 seconds to play. However, McKinney's bounce pass slipped out of Barlett's hands for another Hornet turnover. Had Barlett caught the ball cleanly, he would have had a nice look at a fast break layup.

The Hornets then fouled Portland's Bobby Sharp with nine seconds to play, and Sharp sank both free throws to push the Pilot lead to 78-75 with nine seconds remaining. Wintering then forced another Hornet turnover in the back court and Sharp's subsequent two free throws with four seconds remaining put the game away.

Sacramento State had won five straight home games dating back to last year, but had that streak snapped while falling to 5-4 overall this season. The Hornets also had been 25-7 at the Nest dating back to the 2012-13 season prior to the defeat. Tonight marked Sacramento State's final non-conference home game, and the team does not play inside the friendly confines until the Big Sky opener against Northern Arizona on Jan. 1.

Portland, a member of the West Coast Conference, improved to 7-2 with the victory. The Pilots were coming off an overtime loss to Oregon State eight days ago. Portland improved to 9-1 all-time against Sacramento State in a series which dates back to the 1954-55 season.

Portland scored the game's first seven points and held a lead for all but 15 seconds of the contest. The Pilots' largest lead came at 12 points (32-20) midway through the first half, but Sacramento State was able to slice that lead to 44-39 at the halftime buzzer.

Both teams connected on the same amount of field goals (27) and free throws (17), but the game was likely won at the 3-point line for Portland, as it connected on 9-of-20 (.450) from long range while Sacramento State went just 4-of-15. The Pilots also held a 34-23 advantage in the rebounding department. Sacramento State forced Portland into 19 turnovers, and held advantages in points off turnovers (22-16) and points in the paint (34-26).

Both teams shot well from the field as Portland connected on .529 of its field goal attempts while Sacramento State was .500. In fact, the Pilots opened the game by connecting on nine of their first 12 field goal attempts. The Hornets, who had a season-high 13 steals, finished the game shooting .810 (17-21) from the free throw line. The two teams combined for 44 fouls, 24 whistled on the Hornets and 20 on the Pilots.

Portland big men Thomas Van Der Mars and Volodymyr Gerun, who both stand at 6-foot-11, combined to score 27 points in the first half, but were limited to just four points in the second half. Van Der Mars finished the game with 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

"We didn't do a very good job guarding the post in the first half and that hurt us," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "We made an adjustment late in the first half and that made a difference in having an opportunity to win. I wish we could have made that adjustment a little earlier in the game, but we have a group of players that are smart and can adjust on the fly.

"We are certainly disappointed, and I think we didn't play great, but we played good enough to win. But give Portland credit, they are a team that is good enough to finish among the top squads in the WCC."

The loss overshadowed McKinney's amazing night as he went for 16 points in both halves and wasn't far off a quadruple-double. Already among the nation's top five players in steals per game, McKinney pushed that average to 3.5 per game as he has 13 steals in the last two contests. A unanimous first team all-Big Sky selection last year, McKinney is now averaging 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.5 steals while shooting .560 from the field and .844 from the free throw line this year. McKinney received a standing ovation from the crowd after it was announced he scored his 1,000th point.

"Mikh is a great leader, everyone respects him, he gives you everything he has on the court, he makes guys better, has a personal relationship with every member of the team and is very coachable," Katz said. "Mikh brings so many intangibles to the team, and this was a nice milestone for him."

McKinney was joined in double figures by sophomore Eric Stuteville (season-high 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 6-of-8 from the free throw line) and Garrity (11 points). Garrity, who became the 12th player in school history to score 1,000 points last week, connected on two more 3-pointers, and has now tallied at least two makes from long distance in every game this season. Demps added six points and four rebounds, Alex Tiffin had four points and three rebounds, and Hornsby added five points, a block and a steal while dealing with foul trouble the majority of the game.

Three Pilots scored in double figures, comprised of Van Der Mars (20 points, eight rebounds), Gerun (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Sharp (16 points, 4-of-7 from distance). Wintering had nine points, 12 assists and three steals, and Bryce Pressley added nine points. Those five players made up Portland's starters and that fivesome combined for 65 of the Pilots' 80 points.

Sacramento State returns to action a week from today when the Hornets travel to Washington for a matchup with Seattle on Sunday, Dec. 21, at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets will play just two times over the next couple weeks, including Dec. 27 at Utah Valley.

NOTES -- McKinney was named by ESPN.com as one of its top three performers of the day.