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LATE MONTANA STATE RUN DOOMS MEN’S BASKETBALL IN 71-64 LOSS

LATE MONTANA STATE RUN DOOMS MEN’S BASKETBALL IN 71-64 LOSS

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Montana State used an 11-3 run over the game's final 2:26 and scored on six of its final seven possessions to defeat Sacramento State, 71-64, on Thursday evening at Worthington Arena.

After a 3-pointer from Jeff Wu gave the Hornets their first lead in over 28 minutes of game clock at 61-60 with 2:48 to play, Montana State immediately answered by scoring on three straight possession via Tyler Hall jumper, Danny Robison layup and 3-point dagger from Sarp Gobeloglu. By the time the Gobeloglu 3-ball fell, the Hornets trailed, 67-61, with 1:17 to play.

A Marcus Graves 3-pointer eventually cut the deficit to a one-possession game (67-64) with 23 seconds to play, but Montana State answered with two free throws from Marcus Colbert on its next possession. The Bobcats converted on two more free throws over the final seven seconds to provide the final score. After the Wu 3-pointer, Sacramento State converted on just one of its final five field goal attempts and scored just three points over the last 2:47 of the contest.

After aggravating an injury during the Hornets' loss to Portland State last Saturday, fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps missed the first game of his career tonight due to the injury. In fact, Demps had made 75 straight starts and had played in 104 straight games prior to missing this evening's contest. Forward Nick Hornsby, who missed the Portland State with injury, returned to action tonight with 12 points (5-of-6 from the field), three rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes.

The Hornets were whistled for 22 fouls, and three starters (Hornsby, Marcus Graves, Eric Stuteville) all fouled out of the contest. Combine that with Demps missing tonight's game, and Sacramento State was minus four starters by the game's conclusion.

The loss dropped the Hornets to 7-6 overall and 0-2 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State was playing the second leg of a three-game road trip to begin the conference season, a stretch that will see the Hornets play at Montana on Saturday evening. The Hornets have now lost four of their last five games, and a starter has not played in three of the last four (Dreon Barlett at Stanford, Hornsby at Portland State, Demps tonight).

In addition, the Hornets have now dropped five straight road games after opening the season with road victories at Arizona State and Seattle. All six of Sacramento State's losses this season have come by 10 points or less.

Sacramento State is now 5-19 all-time when playing the Bobcats (7-8, 2-1) in Bozeman, and have dropped eight of the last nine meetings at Worthington Arena.

After shooting 50 percent (12-of-24) from the field in the first half while trailing just, 35-33, at halftime, Sacramento State converted just eight field goals (8-for-24, .333) in the second half and could not come up with a big bucket late. Overall, the Hornets shot .417 (20-of-48) from the field, .455 (10-for-22) from the 3-point line and .824 (14-of-17) from the free throw line.

The Hornets' proficient 3-point shooting was neutralized by Montana State going 11-of-24 from beyond the arc (.458) while shooting .444 overall (24-of-54) from the field. Prior to tonight's game, the Hornets had limited the opposition to .375 or less from distance in each of the last five games. Montana State, which outscored the Hornets in both halves (35-33, 36-31), had sizeable advantages in second chance points (10-2), points off turnovers (14-8) and points off the bench (24-14).

Sacramento State's largest lead was 15-10 early in the first half but the Bobcats immediately answered with an 11-2 run. Hornet foul trouble has been a big problem all year as the team has now committed over 20 fouls in six of the last seven games. Sacramento State is 2-5 during that seven-game run.

Four Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of Barlett (13 points, four rebounds, 3-of-5 from 3-point land), Hornsby (12 points in 29 minutes), Justin Strings (11 points, six rebounds) and true freshman Jeff Wu (11 points, three 3-pointers). Of Wu's 11 points, nine came in the second half, including all three of his 3-pointers. Stuteville, who had averaged a double-double over his last three games, finished with just seven points, one rebound and two blocks in 25 foul-plagued minutes.

Graves finished with seven points and team highs in both rebounds (7) and assists (5) in 31 minutes. Strings scored in double figures in his team-high 11th game (including seven straight), but converted on just 3-of-13 from the field and 2-for-8 from the 3-point line.

For Montana State, Colbert (21 points, five assists) and Gobeloglu (20 points, 5-of-7 from 3-point range) combined for 41 of the Bobcats' 71 points. Tyler Hall chipped in 11 points and a team-high tying six rebounds.

The Hornets will now make the trip to Missoula to finish off the three-game road trip when the team matches up with Montana on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. PST. Sacramento State begins a three-game homestand next week with games against Idaho State on Thursday and Weber State on Saturday inside the Nest.