SEATTLE, Wash. -- Sophomore guard Marcus Graves scored 21 of his game-high 24 points during a 51-30 run over the final 15:09 as Sacramento State defeated Seattle, 77-65, on Sunday afternoon at KeyArena.
The Hornets, who upset Arizona State on Friday night, did not suffer a letdown against a Redhawk program that had never lost to Sacramento State when playing in Seattle. The Hornets had failed to win three times previously in Seattle (2014, 2010, 1968), but snapped that streak with today's victory. One of those defeats included the second worst loss of the year in terms of points differential (66-47) during last year's record-breaking 21-12 campaign.
Sacramento State (2-0) now looks forward to a season-long four-game homestand that includes matchups with Holy Names (Nov. 20), UC Davis (Nov. 24), South Dakota (Nov. 28) and Pacific (Nov. 29). Seattle, which lost to Arkansas Pine Bluff by two points on Friday night, dropped to 0-2 with the loss.
The Hornets shot just 31 percent in the first half, and found themselves down nine points (35-26) after a William Powell bucket with 15:16 left in the game. Sacramento State, however, scored on six of its next eight possessions, which included a pair of 3-pointers from both Jeff Wu and Graves.
Sophomore Jiday Ugbaja, who checks in at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, pulled down two huge offensive rebounds during the run, resulting in five second-chance points. By the time Graves striped his second 3-ball of the run, the Hornets held a 42-39 advantage with 11:36 left. Sacramento State would never trail again, as the team had at least a five-point advantage the final 8:04 of the contest. Rather than slowing the tempo late in the game to hold onto the lead, the Hornets continued to put the pressure on, resulting in four lay-ups during the final 4:27 of the contest.
"This is the second straight game we've been down eight or nine points in the second half on the road, and came out on top," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "Coming back like that gives our guys confidence, and this was a grind-it-out type game that our players refused to lose."
After a rough shooting start to the game, the Hornets shot .531 (17-32) in the second half while outscoring the Redhawks, 52-38, after halftime. The 52 points more than doubled Sacramento State's total output in the first half (25). The Hornets finished the game shooting .422 (27-64) from the field, .310 (9-29) from the 3-point line and just .519 (14-27) from the free throw line.
Although Sacramento State was outrebounded by Seattle, 54-40, the Hornets limited the Redhawks to .353 shooting (24-68) from the field, and just 4-for-27 from the 3-point line. The Hornets also had a healthy 18 assists compared to just 10 turnovers with eight steals. In two games, opponents are now shooting just 6-of-44 (.136) from the 3-point line against Sacramento State's perimeter defense.
Graves, a true sophomore guard from San Diego, put on an impressive display for the second straight game. Two days after scoring 20 points at Arizona State, Graves led all scorers in today's game with 24 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists, two steals and no turnovers in a game-high 39 minutes. Through two games, Graves, who never played more than 16 minutes in any game last year, is averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 39.0 minutes on .500 shooting (15-30) from the field.
Though Graves came up big, it was the Sacramento State bench that also gave the team a huge spark. In fact, the Hornets' bench outscored Seattle's bench by a wide margin (35-16). Perhaps even more satisfying is four of the five players that came off the bench today are underclassmen. Wu, a true freshman, scored 14 points (12 in the second half) and Strings, a sophomore, dropped in 13 points (10 in the second half). Ugbaja, a sophomore, had five points, four assists, two rebounds and a steal in 12 active minutes, and junior Trevis Jackson was diving all over the floor keeping possessions alive.
"Our bench really stepped up today and made a difference," Katz said. "The bench sparked us early in that second half, and we took off from there. You want to be able to win games when your starters, collectively, don't play great, and that was certainly the case today."
Graves (24), Wu (14) and Strings (13) all scored in double figures, and each of those players are underclassmen. Junior Nick Hornsby had nine points, nine rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal in 32 minutes. Senior Cody Demps was limited to just two points, but also had five rebounds, four assists and two steals before fouling out with 8:11 remaining. Through two games, Hornsby is now averaging 8.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 blocked shot and 1.0 steal per game.
"Nick Hornsby was not going to let us lose this game today, plain and simple. He was making plays all over the floor," Katz said.
For Seattle, Brendan Westendorf had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Jack Crook chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Powell added eight points and 10 rebounds. Those three players combined for 36 points and 30 rebounds, but the rest of the team had just 29 points and 17 rebounds.
Sacramento State's home opener against Holy Names this Friday will tip at 7:05 p.m.