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MEN’S HOOPS FALLS ON THE ROAD AT MONTANA

MEN’S HOOPS FALLS ON THE ROAD AT MONTANA

MISSOULA, Mont. — Montana used a 9-2 during the final 2:37 of the first half, and cruised in the second half on the way to a 77-58 victory over Sacramento State on Saturday evening at Dalhberg Arena.

In a game that Montana never trailed, the Hornets were able to stay within six points or fewer during the first 17 minutes of the first half, but the Grizzlies scored nine of the half's final 11 points to go into the locker room with a 37-28 lead. Montana scored the first four points of the second half and led by double figures the final 18:13 of the game.

The Grizzlies buried 13-of-30 (.433) shots from the 3-point line while the Hornets were just 1-for-6. Sacramento State posted season lows in points (58), 3-pointers made, 3-pointers attempted, 3-point percentage (.167), assists (7), steals (2) and free throw percentage (.440). The Hornets went just 11-for-25 from the free throw line and were outrebounded by a 42-30 margin. Montana outscored the Hornets by nine points in the first half, and 10 points (40-30) in the second half.

Fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps missed his second straight game with injury. Sacramento State has now been without a starter because of injury in four of the last five games as Nick Hornsby missed the Portland State game and Dreon Barlett was absent for the Stanford game. The Hornets are now 0-4 this season when they don't play with a healthy roster.

Sacramento State (7-7, 0-3) lost its third straight game, the program's longest losing streak since the 2013-14 season. The Hornets, who are the only team in the Big Sky Conference without a league victory, have played just twice at home in the last 40 days. During that stretch, Sacramento State has posted an 0-6 mark on the road after beginning the season with road wins at Arizona State and Seattle.

Meanwhile, Montana continues to roll, winning its fifth straight while improving to 9-6 overall, 4-0 in the Big Sky and 7-0 at home. The Grizzlies sit all alone in first place in the Big Sky standings as the only 4-0 squad in the league. Sacramento State dropped to 6-37 all-time against Montana, which includes a 12-game losing streak against the Griz in Missoula. The Hornets' last win in Missoula came in a Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal game on March 8, 2003.

Tonight's loss was the first blowout defeat for the Hornets as the team's previous six losses all came by 10 points or less. Tonight marks just the second time all season in a Hornet loss that Sacramento State did not have an opportunity to pull out a victory during the later stages of the game.

Sacramento State begins a season-long three-game homestead next week with games against Idaho State on Thursday and Weber State on Saturday at the Nest. Both games will tip at 7:05 p.m.

Overall, the Hornets shot well from the field (.469, 23-for-49) and committed just eight turnovers, but Sacramento State could not overcome a lack of 3-point shooting, poor free throw shooting and a red-hot Montana offense that produced 39 points from beyond the 3-point line. The Hornets also had just seven offensive rebounds, resulting in a 10-4 disparity in second chance points.

For Sacramento State, true freshman Jeff Wu had a team-best 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Sophomore Justin Strings scored in double figures for the eighth straight game, and team-best 12th time this year, finishing with 12 points (5-of-9 shooting) and four rebounds in a team-high 35 minutes. Strings started for the fourth time this season, taking the place of Demps in the starting lineup.

Junior Nick Hornsby had eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 32 active minutes, Marcus Graves posted seven points, four rebounds and three assists, and Eric Stuteville had seven points, three rebounds and three blocked shots. All 11 healthy and active players on Sacramento State's roster played in tonight's game, including sophomore Mason Stuteville scoring four points in the game's final 18 seconds.

Montana had three players score in double figures, comprised of Jack Lopez (21 points, five rebounds), Martin Breunig (15 points, 16 rebounds) and Walter Wright (16 points, 12 assists, 39 minutes). Lopez (5-of-8), Wright (3-of-4) and Michael Oguine (3-of-6) combined to shoot 11-for-18 from beyond the 3-point line.

Besides beginning a three-game homestead next week, the Hornets will also play five of their next seven games inside the Nest, beginning on Thursday night against Idaho State at 7:05 p.m.