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BIG 2ND HALF PROPELS MEN’S BASKETBALL TO 82-71 VICTORY OVER IDAHO STATE

BIG 2ND HALF PROPELS MEN’S BASKETBALL TO 82-71 VICTORY OVER IDAHO STATE

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Four Hornets scored in double figures, and Sacramento State poured in 53 points in the second half on the way to an 82-71 victory over Idaho State on Thursday evening at the Nest.

After trailing at the break, 33-29, the Hornets outscored the Bengals in the second half by a 53-38 margin. The 53 points were the most in a half for the Hornets this season as Sacramento State shot .583 (14-of-24) from the field and .870 (20-23) from the free throw line after halftime. Many of those free throws came during the final 2:36 when the Hornets went 16-of-18 from the charity stripe to put the game away.

Sacramento State began the second half on an 8-2 run and did not trail the final 16:28 of the contest. Sparking the second half surge was guard Dreon Barlett, who finished with career highs in points (18), rebounds (8) and blocked shots (2). Amazingly, all 18 of his points came in the second half when the fourth-year senior went 5-of-7 from the floor (three 3-pointers) and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Barlett had been 0-for-4 from the field in the first half, but caught fire after converting a four-point play early in the second half.

Joining Barlett in double figures for Sacramento State were forwards Nick Hornsby (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Justin Strings (12 points, 11 rebounds) and guard Marcus Graves (13 points, five assists). The double-double for Hornsby was his second of the season as he finished 4-for-4 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Strings notched his second double-double and scored in double figures for the ninth consecutive game. Strings had seven points and seven rebounds in the second half while Hornsby had seven points and six rebounds after the break.

A 13-3 run that spanned 3:24 of game clock late in the second half put the game away, and eventually gave the Hornets a 70-57 lead with 2:22 to play. Five different Hornets scored during the spurt, including Barlett (4), Strings (3), Hornsby (2), Graves (2) and freshman Jeff Wu (2).

With the victory, Sacramento State (8-7, 1-3) picked up its first Big Sky Conference win of the season and avoided the program's first four-game losing streak since the 2011-12 season. The Hornets, who were playing their first conference game at home, had opened the Big Sky season with three straight road losses to conference teams.

The win also came despite fourth-year senior and team co-captain Cody Demps missing his third straight game because of injury. The Hornets have now played five times in their last six games without a starter due to injury.

Sacramento State won its 11th straight regular season home game against a conference opponent. That streak dates back to 2014, as the program went 9-0 against the Big Sky inside the Nest last year. In addition, the team is 6-1 at home this season and 40-10 inside the friendly confines dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

Idaho State dropped to 6-10 overall and 1-3 in the Big Sky. The Bengals, who split a pair of conference games at home last week, dropped to 1-7 on the road.

Overall, Sacramento State shot .520 (26-of-50) from the field, .400 (8-for-20) from the 3-point line and .846 (22-of-26) from the free throw line. The Hornets outrebounded Idaho State, 42-35, and found a way to win despite a season-high tying 17 turnovers. Sacramento State played well defensively, limiting ISU to .361 shooting (26-of-72) from the field. The Hornets had six blocked shots, including three from conference leader Eric Stuteville.

"In the first half, we were aggressive defensively, but we didn't get much going offensively," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "We talked about that at halftime, and I thought our guys responded with a very nice second half. We had been struggling of late offensively, so it was nice to break out and put up big numbers in the second half. Overall, I thought we held Idaho State down defensively and grinded out the victory."

The Hornets also got big contributions from Stuteville (nine points, five rebounds, three blocks), Wu (eight points, three assists, two steals in a season-high 28 minutes) and Grant Dressler (six points in a season-high 17 minutes). Both Wu and Dressler are true freshmen.

Idaho State's Ethan Telfair (23), Gary Chivichyan (21) and Geno Luzcando (14) combined for 58 of Idaho State's 71 points. Telfair's 23 points came along with seven rebounds, four assists and six steals in a game-high 39 minutes. However, he shot just 8-of-24 from the field, including 4-for-15 in the second half.

Sacramento State returns to action on Saturday when the team hosts Weber State at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets conclude their three-game homestand next Saturday (Jan. 23) against Portland State at 7:05 p.m.