SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State overcame a 20-point second-half deficit while outscoring Montana, 54-36, after halftime on the way to an 83-79 victory over the Grizzlies on Thursday evening at the Nest.
A 3-pointer from Brandon Gfeller gave Montana its largest lead of the game at 49-29 with 19:09 remaining, before the Hornets ripped off an impressive offensive display that would see the team score a season-best 54 points in the second half. In fact, Sacramento State closed the final 18:42 of the contest on a 54-30 run. The Hornets shot .615 (16-of-26) from the field after halftime, and, amazingly, saw four different Hornets score in double figures in the second half. Eric Stuteville (13 points, seven rebounds), Jeff Wu (11 points), Jiday Ugbaja (11 points) and Marcus Graves (10 points) all had double-figure points in the second half.
It was a Ugbaja jumper with 1:53 to play that gave Sacramento State its first lead at 76-75, and the Hornets would never trail again. That Ugbaja jumper was part of a 16-5 run for the Hornets that spanned the final 4:47, and Sacramento State was able to score on eight of its last 10 possessions to help secure the victory.
Five different Hornets scored during the 16-5 run, including Dreon Barlett (0:08) and Trevis Jackson (0:02) each burying two huge free throws to keep things at a two-possession game. The Hornets were 7-for-8 from the free throw line over the final 2:18.
The win improved the short-handed Hornets to 10-10 overall and 3-6 in the Big Sky as the team was playing its eighth straight game without team co-captain and fourth-year senior Cody Demps. The Hornets were also able to beat Montana at home in dramatic fashion for the second straight year and improve to just 7-37 all-time against the Griz. Last year, it was a Dylan Garrity 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left that gave Sacramento State a 70-69 win at the Nest.
Perhaps more gratifying is the win came against a Montana squad (13-8, 8-2) that had been in first place in the Big Sky Conference standings, and entered the game as winners of nine of its last 10 games. The Grizzlies hadn't lost to a conference opponent on the road all season (5-0) until tonight's defeat.
Playing in front of a boisterous crowd and a raucous band, Sacramento State was able to avenge a 77-58 loss to Montana earlier this year in Missoula.
"We've been struggling with our confidence lately, and I think our guys made their minds up at halftime that things needed to change," Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz said. "Our guys played with a lot of effort and energy in the second half, and they played angry. And we needed to play angry to get this win.
"The crowd and the band were unbelievable tonight, and I think they definitely had an affect on the outcome of the game. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, the crowd and the band won this game for us."
After a sluggish first half that saw Sacramento State shoot just .333 (10-of-30) from the field and go into the locker room with a 43-29 halftime deficit, the Hornets were still able to shoot .464 (26-of-56) from the field for the game while converting on 26-of-37 free throws (.703). Sacramento State was already in the bonus with 14:36 to play, and converted on 18-of-23 free throws in the second half. The 26 made free throws were the second highest output of the year.
Sacramento State also outrebounded Montana, 39-33, and held big advantages over the Griz in second-chance points (15-6), fast break points (10-0) and points off the bench (30-22). Montana was limited to just six offensive rebounds, and the Hornets finished with seven steals, including two swipes in the final 2:22 of the contest.
Montana shot .467 (28-of-60) from the field, .474 (9-of-19) from the 3-point line and .667 (14-of-21) from the free throw line. The Hornets were able to overcome Gfeller's second-half performance that saw him shoot 5-for-6 from distance after halftime.
Five Hornets scored in double figures, comprised of Stuteville (15 points, nine rebounds, four blocks), Graves (18 points, four rebounds, five assists, 40 minutes), Ugbaja (career-high 18 points, five rebounds, two steals), Justin Strings (13 points) and Wu (11 points, career-high tying four rebounds). Prior to tonight, Ugbaja, a sophomore making his third straight start, had never scored more than eight points. Wu, who is a true freshman, scored all 11 of his points in the second half on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from distance. Four of the five Hornets who scored in double figures are underclassmen as Graves and Strings are both sophomores.
For Montana, Gfeller scored a game-high 21 points, Martin Breunig added 20 points and just four rebounds, Walter Wright had eight points and 11 rebounds, and Gavin DeJong finished with 10 points. Breunig, who is one of the premier players in the Big Sky, entered the game with an average of 9.0 rebounds per game before finishing with four tonight.
Sacramento State returns to action for another game at the Nest on Saturday evening against Montana State at 7:05 p.m.
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February 26, 2016 MEN'S BASKETBALL TO PLAY SATURDAY MATINEE AT NORTH DAKOTA
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February 24, 2016 FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD TRIP; MEN'S HOOPS AT NORTHERN COLORADO
February 20, 2016 MEN’S BASKETBALL BEATS IDAHO AT HOME, 68-65; SWEEPS THE SEASON SERIES
February 19, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS HOSTS IDAHO ON SATURDAY NIGHT AT 7 P.M.
February 19, 2016 FORMER MEN'S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACH DWAYNE CANADA PASSES AWAY
February 18, 2016 BIG FIRST HALF PROPELS EASTERN WASHINGTON TO 93-88 WIN OVER MEN’S HOOPS
February 16, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS BACK AT THE NEST ON THURSDAY, HOSTS EASTERN WASHINGTON
February 13, 2016 MEN’S BASKETBALL’S LATE RUN FALL SHORT IN 66-64 ROAD LOSS AT IDAHO STATE
February 12, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO POCATELLO FOR SATURDAY GAME AT IDAHO STATE
February 11, 2016 MEN’S HOOPS HELD TO SEASON LOW IN POINTS IN 63-50 LOSS AT WEBER STATE
February 9, 2016 MEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO WEBER STATE FOR THURSDAY NIGHT GAME
February 5, 2016 MEN'S BASKETBALL HOSTS MONTANA STATE SATURDAY EVENING AT THE NEST
February 4, 2016 HUGE 2ND HALF HELPS MEN’S BASKETBALL BEAT FIRST-PLACE MONTANA, 83-79
February 3, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS WELCOMES MONTANA TO THE NEST ON THURSDAY NIGHT
February 1, 2016 ANTICIPATION BUILDING ON THE ROAD TO RENO FOR BIG SKY TOURNAMENT
January 29, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS TRAVELS TO EASTERN WASHINGTON FOR SATURDAY MATINEE
January 28, 2016 MEN’S BASKETBALL GETS BIG ROAD WIN AT IDAHO, 65-63
January 27, 2016 MEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO IDAHO FOR THURSDAY EVENING MATCHUP
January 23, 2016 RED-HOT PORTLAND STATE RACES PAST MEN’S BASKETBALL
January 21, 2016 ROAD TO RENO PRIZE PACKAGE TO BE GIVEN AWAY AT SATURDAY'S MBB GAME
January 15, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS WELCOMES WEBER STATE TO THE NEST ON SATURDAY NIGHT
January 13, 2016 MEN'S BASKETBALL FINALLY BACK AT HOME ON THURSDAY VS. IDAHO STATE
January 9, 2016 MEN’S HOOPS FALLS ON THE ROAD AT MONTANA
January 8, 2016 MEN'S HOOPS WRAPS UP ROAD TRIP ON SATURDAY EVENING AT MONTANA
January 7, 2016 LATE MONTANA STATE RUN DOOMS MEN’S BASKETBALL IN 71-64 LOSS
December 30, 2015 MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY SATURDAY AT PORTLAND STATE
December 28, 2015 MEN’S HOOPS IMPROVES TO 7-4 AFTER 78-49 VICTORY OVER PACIFIC UNION
December 27, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS HOSTS PACIFIC UNION ON MONDAY IN FINAL NON-LEAGUE GAME
December 21, 2015 LATE STANFORD RUN SPOILS MEN’S BASKETBALL’S UPSET BID
December 20, 2015 MBB PLAYS AT STANFORD ON MONDAY; 1ST GAME VS. CARDINAL SINCE 2007
December 12, 2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS TO 6-3 AFTER 81-73 LOSS AT PORTLAND
December 10, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS BEGINS ROAD STRETCH ON SATURDAY EVENING AT PORTLAND
December 8, 2015 JUSTIN STRINGS NAMED BIG SKY MEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
December 7, 2015 MEN'S BASKETBALL MAKES BIG PLAYS LATE IN WIN OVER INCARNATE WORD
December 6, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS TO PLAY FIRST OF JUST TWO DECEMBER HOME GAMES ON MONDAY
December 2, 2015 MEN’S HOOPS HAS CHANCES TO WIN LATE, BUT FALLS AT UC DAVIS, 66-61
December 1, 2015 MEN'S BASKETBALL LOOKS FOR SEASON SWEEP OF UC DAVIS ON WEDNESDAY
November 29, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS PACIFIC FOR 1ST TIME SINCE 2009 AT THE NEST TODAY
November 29, 2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL IMPROVES TO 5-1 AFTER A 79-71 HOME WIN OVER PACIFIC
November 28, 2015 MEN’S HOOPS DROPS FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON TO SOUTH DAKOTA, 96-90
November 27, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS OPENS HOME TOURNEY SATURDAY VS. SOUTH DAKOTA AT 3:30 PM
November 24, 2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL IMPROVES TO 4-0 WITH AN 84-79 WIN OVER UC DAVIS
November 23, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS AND UC DAVIS HOOK UP FOR 113TH TIME ON TUESDAY AT THE NEST
November 20, 2015 MEN’S HOOPS IMPROVES TO 3-0 AFTER A 96-56 VICTORY OVER HOLY NAMES
November 19, 2015 HOME OPENER FOR MEN'S HOOPS THIS FRIDAY VS. HOLY NAMES AT 7 PM
November 17, 2015 GRAVES NAMED BIG SKY MEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
November 16, 2015 NATIONAL WEEKLY AWARDS POURING IN FOR MEN'S HOOPS' MARCUS GRAVES
November 15, 2015 MEN'S HOOPS PLAYS 2ND ROAD GAME IN 3 DAYS ON SUNDAY AT SEATTLE
November 15, 2015 HUGE SECOND HALF PROPELS MEN’S HOOPS TO A 77-65 WIN AT SEATTLE
November 13, 2015 LATE RUN GIVES MEN’S BASKETBALL A 66-63 UPSET WIN AT ARIZONA STATE
November 11, 2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL SIGNS BEYER HIGH SCHOOL GUARD GEORGE DANCER
November 9, 2015 GAME NOTES: MEN'S HOOPS OPENS SEASON FRIDAY AT ARIZONA STATE
November 6, 2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL CRUSHES SIMPSON, 103-63, IN EXHIBITION GAME
November 2, 2015 DICKSON BECOMES 2ND PLAYER IN SCHOOL HISTORY DRAFTED IN NBA D-LEAGUE
October 27, 2015 ERNEST TSCHANNEN DONATES $750,000 TO POWER OF 1,000 HORNETS
September 30, 2015 MEN’S HOOPS SEASON QUICKLY APPROACHING, 1ST OFFICIAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY
September 3, 2015 HEAD COACH BRIAN KATZ RECEIVES FIVE-YEAR COMMITMENT THROUGH 2020
June 29, 2015 MEN’S BASKETBALL ANNOUNCES ITS 2015-16 SCHEDULE