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MEN’S HOOPS WINS 7TH STRAIGHT, DOWNS PORTLAND STATE, 64-60

MEN’S HOOPS WINS 7TH STRAIGHT, DOWNS PORTLAND STATE, 64-60

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State senior co-captains Mikh McKinney (17) and Dylan Garrity (16) combined for 33 of the Hornets' 64 points on the way to a 64-60 win over Portland State on Saturday afternoon at the Nest.

The win allowed the Hornets (16-6, 10-1) to remain all alone in first place in the Big Sky standings, improve their winning streak to seven games, and improve to 11-1 at home, including 7-0 in conference. Below are a number of quickies on the season thus far.

• Sacramento State now assures itself of the program's first winning season in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and the 16 victories becomes the high water mark for wins in the Div. I era.
• The 16 wins ties for the eighth best mark in school history (1948-pres.).
• The 10-1 Big Sky record is easily the best mark in program history, and the Hornets have never been in first place this late in the year since joining the league in 1996-97.
• The Hornets' 16-6 overall record is the program's best since the 1987-88 squad was 17-5, and the third best after 22 games in program history.
• Sacramento State's seven-game winning streak is tied for the sixth longest in school history, and the longest in nearly 40 years (the 1975-76 squad won seven straight).
• Dating back to last year, the Hornets have won a school-record eight straight home games vs. Big Sky opposition.
• The 11 home victories tie for the most in the Div. I era (last season's team went 11-3 inside the Nest).
• Overall, Sacramento State has won 19 of its last 21 home games dating back to last year.

As has often been the case at the Nest this season, there were a number of tense moments late in today's game, as neither team led by more than six points the final 18:25 of the game. The Vikings (11-10, 5-6) quickly erased a 33-24 halftime deficit by opening the second half on a 14-2 run, capped off by a pair of free throws which gave PSU a 38-35 lead with 15:55 remaining. The Vikings led by three points on three occasions during the second half, which also happened to be their largest lead of the game.

Both teams battled back and forth until a jumper from Alex Tiffin at the 9:01 mark gave the Hornets the lead for good at 50-48. Sacramento State would eventually push that advantage to 61-55 with 3:18 to play, but the Hornets went 1-for-4 from the free throw line over the next three minutes to let PSU back into the game. In fact, after a Hornet missed front end of a 1-and-1, the Vikings took possession of the ball down, 62-60, with 29 seconds left.

After calling a timeout, the Vikings set up a play for Gary Winston, but Iziahiah Sweeney's cross-court pass was too high, and Winston landed on the sideline after jumping to catch the ball with 18 seconds to play. Sacramento Stat's Dylan Garrity was fouled one second later, and sunk both free throws to make it a two possession game. Portland State's Tiegbe Bamba had his 3-point attempt blocked by Alex Tiffin on the Vikings' ensuing possession and Tim Douglas eventually missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and the Hornets secured the rebound as time expired.

Sacramento State didn't play particularly well on offense as the 64 points were the team's lowest output at home this season. However, the Hornet defense limited the Vikings to 60 points, tied for their fourth lowest mark of the year. The Hornets finished the game shooting .481 (25-52) from the field, .600 (6-10) from the 3-point line and just .533 (8-15) from the free throw line. Sacramento State entered the game as the nation's 22nd best free throw shooting team in the nation, but had trouble at the stripe this afternoon.

Portland State, which shot .442 (23-52) from the field, was forced into 17 turnovers and Sacramento State finished with a commanding 15-6 edge in points off turnovers. Ten of those Viking turnovers came in the second half. Portland State did have a commanding 36-28 advantage in the rebounding department and converted 11 offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points.

"I thought Portland State did a really nice job of coming back in the second half, and this was a game we had to grind out for the win," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "This was a typical Big Sky win, we had to scratch and claw for this victory over a very good Portland State team.

"I felt like we did a really nice job defensively on a team that really score the basketball. Its good to be in this position (first place) right now, but every game is a fist fight and we need to continue to win these kind of ball games."

McKinney's team-high 17 points came on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including 2-for-4 from the 3-point line. He also had four assists and a game-high four steals. Garrity's 16 points accompanied a pair of 3-pointers, five assists and three steals. Sacramento State finished with 12 steals (the second highest output of the season), and three different Hornets had at least three swipes, including Nick Hornsby (3).

Center Eric Stuteville had seven points and five rebounds, Zach Mills had eight points and two steals, and Alex Tiffin added seven points, four rebounds and two blocked shots. Cody Demps was limited to under eight points for just the third time in conference play, and finished with five points, five rebounds and two assists.

Three Portland State players finished in double figures, comprised of Braxton Tucker (18 points, five rebounds), Bamba (13 points, game-high seven rebounds) and DaShaun Wiggins (10 points).

The Hornets will now embark upon their biggest road trip in years when the team plays at Eastern Washington and Idaho next Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Eastern Washington (9-1) remains a half game behind Sacramento State in the standings, and the winner of Thursday's game will sit all alone in first place. The Hornets have just seven games remaining on the regular season schedule.

NOTES -- Sacramento State is now 7-1 in games decided by five points or less this year…of the Hornets' 10 conference wins, seven have come by seven points or less…tonight's attendance of 1,145 marked the third straight game with an overflow sellout crowd (capacity is 1,012).