LATE RUN SPARKS IDAHO TO 69-58 VICTORY OVER MEN’S BASKETBALL

LATE RUN SPARKS IDAHO TO 69-58 VICTORY OVER MEN’S BASKETBALL

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Idaho used a 14-3 run over the game's final 4:06, and outrebounded the Hornets by a wide margin (38-22) to defeat Sacramento State, 69-58, in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday evening at Cowan Spectrum.

The loss dropped the Hornets to 16-8 overall and 10-3 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State lost both its road games this week, including 64-61 at Eastern Washington on Thursday, and has suffered its first losing streak since the middle of December. The good news is that Eastern Washington lost earlier today to Portland State, but the bad news is that Montana was victorious in triple overtime over Northern Colorado.

That means only a half game separates the top three teams in the Big Sky standings, as Eastern Washington (10-2) remains in first place with both Sacramento State and Montana (10-3) a half game back. The Hornets and Grizzlies have five games remaining on the regular season schedule while the Eagles have six games left. The winner of the Big Sky regular season championship will host the conference tournament on March 12-14. The winner of the conference tournament will secure the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Of the Hornets' five regular season games remaining, the final two home games will come next week on Thursday against Northern Colorado and Saturday vs. North Dakota. Sacramento State's final three regular season games will come on the road at Portland State, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, respectively.

Idaho improved to 11-12 overall, 6-6 in the conference and 9-3 at home. The Vandals are now 15-2 all-time against the Hornets and have defeated Sacramento State in Moscow on eight straight opportunities.

In tonight's game, after a Cody Demps' jumper allowed the Hornets to pull even at 55-55 with 4:43 to play, Idaho proceeded to go on its game-clinching 14-3 run. After the Demps jumper, Sacramento State missed nine of its final 10 shots from the field, and of the Vandals' 14 points, six came via second-chance opportunities after an offensive rebound.

Idaho never trailed the first 31:32 of the contest before a Dylan Garrity 3-pointer gave the Hornets their first and largest lead of the night at 51-48 with 8:28 left. That lead was short lived as Idaho scored four straight before a Mikh McKinney jumper gave Sacramento State what would be the team's last lead of the evening at 53-52 with 6:08 left. A jumper from Idaho's Mike Scott put the Vandals back on top with 4:54 to play, a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

Uncharacteristically, Sacramento State had a bad shooting night, finishing just .411 (23-56) from the field and .217 (5-23) from the 3-point line. One of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams, the Hornets percentage from distance was easily the team's worst mark of the season. Sacramento State also went to the free throw line just eight times compared to 20 opportunities from the stripe for Idaho. In fact, the Hornets were whistled for eight more fouls during the contest (18-10) and never got into a bonus situation.

Conversely, Idaho shot .563 (27-48) from the field, the second highest output by a Sacramento State opponent all season. The Vandals didn't shoot particularly well from distance (4-14), but converted on 23 of their 34 two-point opportunities (.676). Idaho, which is the Big Sky's top rebounding team, crushed the Hornets on the glass by a wide margin (38-22). The Vandals also had 22 points off the bench compared to just six for Sacramento State.

The Hornets were outscored in both the first (37-33) and second (32-25) halves, and held a lead for just 3:26 of the contest.

Four Sacramento State players scored in double figures, comprised of McKinney (15 points, five assists, three steals in 39 minutes), Garrity (15 points), Demps (12 points, two steals, 6-of-9 shooting) and Nick Hornsby (10 points, three assists and four steals). Uncharacteristically, both Garrity (5-13, 2-9 3PT) and McKinney (6-15, 3-11 3PT) had tough shooting nights as the senior co-captains combined to shoot 11-of-28 from the field and 5-for-20 from the 3-point line. Amazingly, the .400 overall field goal percentage tied for the third worst shooting night of the season for McKinney, who entered the game shooting .535 from the floor.

No Hornet had more than four rebounds, and the foursome of Demps, Garrity, McKinney and Hornsby combined for all but six of the team's points. Demps was the only Sacramento State player to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.

Four Vandals scored in double figures, comprised of Arkadiy Mkrtychyan (16 points, six rebounds, 7-of-8 shooting), Scott (15 points, six rebounds, four assists), Sekou Wiggs (12 points) and Connor Hill (11 points). Four different Idaho players had at least six rebounds, led by Paulin Mpawe's game-high nine boards.

Both home games next week for Sacramento State will begin at 7:05 p.m. Prior to Saturday's game against North Dakota, Hornet seniors Zach Mills, Alex Tiffin, McKinney and Garrity will be honored for their contributions to the program.