SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Five Hornets scored in double figures, led by senior Cody Demps' game-high 22 points, as Sacramento State knocked off UC Davis, 84-79, in the men's basketball version of the Causeway Classic Tuesday evening in front of a loud sellout crowd at the Nest.
Sixteen of Demps' 22 points came in the second half, as the fourth-year senior buried seven free throws in the final two minutes to help the Hornets preserve the lead. In fact, Sacramento State, which entered the game shooting just .571 from the free throw line, went 9-of-12 from the charity stripe over the final 1:47. In a tight and highly entertaining game which featured eight ties and 11 lead changes, the Hornets led the final 3:55 and scored on six of their final eight possessions of the game.
UC Davis could have tied the game late with a 3-pointer, but Marcus Graves came up with a steal on the Aggies' Darius Graham with six seconds to go, and Graves buried two subsequent free throws to put the game away. The Hornets finished the game shooting .824 (28-34) from the free throw line, with 19 of those makes coming in the second half.
With the win, Sacramento State improves to 4-0 for the just the second time in school history (1948-pres.), joining the 1999-00 squad as the only two teams to accomplish the feat. The Hornets will have a chance to become the first team in program history to start 5-0 when they host South Dakota on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. during the first game of the two-day, four-team Sacramento State Invitational (Nov. 28-29) at the Nest.
The Hornets improved to 66-47 all-time against the Aggies, and the team is 5-2 against UC Davis since reigning Mid-Major Coach of the Year Brian Katz took the helm in 2008. The two rivals did not play in 2014-15, but they play a home-and-home this year, including Dec. 2 at UC Davis.
The Hornets' largest lead of the game was 10 points (38-28) at the 3:18 mark of the first half, but the Aggies immediately responded by going on a 20-2 run spanning parts of both halves. By the time Nolan Berry buried a 3-pointer with 16:41 left in the game, UC Davis held its largest lead at 48-40. However, the Hornets chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game on a Jiday Ugbaja jumper (52-52) with 11:31 remaining. Neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way, as the Hornets held five-point advantages at the 0:48 and 0:32 second marks of the contest.
The Hornets did not shoot particularly well from the field (.417, 25-for-60), but converted 6-of-15 attempts from the 3-point line (.400) and better than 80 percent of their freebies. Sacramento State also forced 19 turnovers while committing just six of its own. That led to a huge 22-12 advantage in points off turnovers, and the Hornets did not allow a fast break point all evening. UC Davis held a 38-31 edge in the rebounding department while shooting .500 (26-52) from the field, .409 (9-22) from the 3-point line and .720 (18-25) from the free throw stripe.
Sacramento State finished with nine steals and the team has combined for 24 steals over its last three games. Six of those steals came in the second half, leading to 12 points off miscues after halftime. The game featured a combined 54 fouls and 59 free throw attempts as both teams were in the bonus early in the first and second halves. Three players fouled out, and five more were whistled for four fouls.
Demps, who had a game-high +10 in plus/minus ratio, finished with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers in 38 minutes. He shot just 4-for-13 from the field, but converted a career-high 14 free throws in a career-best 19 attempts.
Joining Demps in double figures for the Hornets were Graves (14 points, six assists and three steals in 37 minutes), Justin Strings (14 points, six rebounds and a steal), Dreon Barlett (11 points, 3-for-5 from the 3-point line) and Eric Stuteville (10 points, four rebounds). Strings, who buried a jumper at the 3:55 mark to give the Hornets the lead for good, has now scored at least 13 points in three straight games after never scoring more than six last season as a true freshman. Graves has now scored in double figures in every game, and is averaging a team-high 17.8 points per contest.
Junior Nick Hornsby narrowly missed a double-double (nine points, nine rebounds) before fouling out with 3:24 left. Sacramento State starters combined for 66 of the team's 84 points, as Strings' 14 points came off the bench. A total of 10 Hornets played in the game, and eight cracked the scoring column.
For UC Davis, Brynton Lemar had a team-high 21 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from the 3-point line and 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Forward Josh Fox played all 40 minutes while finishing with 16 points and a UC Davis Div. I program single-game record 18 rebounds. In fact, it was Fox that accounted for nearly 50 percent of the team's 38 rebounds. Also in double figures for the Aggies were Graham (17 points, three 3-pointers) and Neal Monson (10 points, six rebounds).
The Hornets will host South Dakota on Saturday, and Pacific on Sunday at 5:35 p.m. This weekend's Sacramento State Invitational will feature four games over two days with Eastern Washington joining the field of four teams. For complete tournament information, including schedule and ticket prices, please click here.
NOTES - Fans in attendance who have donated to the Power of 1,000 Hornets were honored at halftime…the Power of 1,000 Hornets is the first step in a crowdfunding effort to bring an Event Center to campus.
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