MEN’S BASKETBALL’S WINNING STREAK ENDS IN LOSS AT NORTHERN COLORADO

MEN’S BASKETBALL’S WINNING STREAK ENDS IN LOSS AT NORTHERN COLORADO

GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado used a 10-2 run spanning the final two minutes to break open a close game and eventually defeat Sacramento State, 84-73, in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at Bank of Colorado Arena.

After the Hornets' Zach Mills buried a 3-pointer to bring the Hornets to within, 74-71, with 2:18 remaining, the Bears scored on five of their final six possessions to put the game away. Meanwhile, Sacramento State missed all eight of its field goal attempts during the game's final 1:42, and the only points during that span came on a pair of free throws from Cody Demps with 34 seconds remaining.

The Hornets, who saw their season-high tying four-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 9-6 overall and 3-1 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State was attempting to start the Big Sky season with a 4-0 record for just the second time since joining the league in 1996 while also seeing its modest two-game road winning streak end.

Northern Colorado (8-7, 3-1) improved to 7-1 at home this season, and 7-2 all-time when playing the Hornets in Greeley.

In a game that was much closer than the final score indicated, the contest featured 19 lead changes, eight ties, and neither team led by more than six points the first 31 minutes of the contest. Northern Colorado made some headway after going on an 11-0 run midway through the second half to take a game-high 66-53 lead with 7:11 remaining. However, the Hornets responded two minutes later with a 13-3 run that got them all the way back to within three points on the Mills' 3-pointer.

Sacramento State's defense entered the contest ranked second in the Big Sky in terms of points allowed per game, but the Hornets had trouble on the defensive end tonight. In fact, Northern Colorado's shooting percentages of .640 (32-50) overall and .600 (6-10) from the 3-point line were easily the highest allowed by the Hornets this season. Moreover, the Bears shot a robust .818 (18-22) from the field in a second half that saw Northern Colorado outscore Sacramento State, 48-34. The Hornets held a 39-36 lead at the break and had been 9-0 when leading at halftime until that run ended this evening.

The 84 points were the second highest total allowed by the Hornets this year, as was Northern Colorado's 20 assists. Meanwhile, Sacramento State, one of the more proficient shooting teams in the nation, couldn't find the range in the second half. After shooting .567 from the field in the first half, Sacramento State converted on just 11-of-33 shots in the second half and finished the game shooting .444 (28-63) from the field and .320 (8-25) from the 3-point line. Tonight marked the first time in five games the Hornets failed to shoot at least 50 percent from the field.

Sacramento State did have a 29-27 advantage in the rebounding department and outscored the Bears in second chance points, 10-5, but UNC scored 44 of its 84 points in the paint, many of which came on layups in the second half.

The Hornets got a big night from senior guard Dylan Garrity, who finished with a team-high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, and 6-for-13 from the 3-point line. Two of those 3-pointers came during the Hornets' 13-3 run late in the game. Joining Garrity in double figures for the Hornets were senior Mikh McKinney (14 points, three assists and three steals) and Demps (14 points, eight rebounds and five assists). Demps' rebounds and assists tied for a game high. Sophomore Nick Hornsby added seven points and eight rebounds and Mills finished with eight points.

For Northern Colorado, Tevin Svihovec finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Cameron Michael had 12 points and Anthony Johnson finished with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from long range. Twenty of Svihovec's 26 points came in the second half, and he buried all seven of his free throws during the game's final four minutes.

Sacramento State returns to the friendly confines of the Nest next week when the team hosts Idaho on Thursday and Eastern Washington on Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m. The Hornets are 6-1 at home this season, including a 2-0 record against Big Sky opposition.