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MEN’S BASKETBALL’S LATE RUN FALL SHORT IN 66-64 ROAD LOSS AT IDAHO STATE

MEN’S BASKETBALL’S LATE RUN FALL SHORT IN 66-64 ROAD LOSS AT IDAHO STATE

POCATELLO, Idaho — Sacramento State went on a 17-8 run over the final 8:48, but the Hornets' comeback fell just short in a 66-64 road loss at Idaho State on Saturday evening at Holt Arena.

Sacramento State, which had trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half, had a slight chance to win but Cody Demps' desperation heave from three-quarter court at the buzzer drew backboard but no rim. The Hornets' last lead of the game came at 14-13 after Jeff Wu buried a 3-pointer with 13:19 left in the first half, but Idaho State scored on its next possession and led the final 33:08 of the contest.

Both teams shot poorly from the field (SAC .380; ISU .365), but the Hornets were victimized at the free throw line where Idaho State went to the charity stripe 19 times compared to just five free throw attempts for Sacramento State. In fact, ISU was whistled for just 13 fouls and the Hornets were in the bonus for all of three seconds at the end of the first half. Sacramento State went 3-of-5 from the free throw line while Idaho State connected on 15-of-19 attempts (.789). That included ISU going 12-for-14 from the stripe in the second half.

A jumper from Ethan Telfair gave the Bengals a comfortable 58-47 lead with 9:32 to play. However, back-to-back 3-pointers from Wu and Justin Strings, followed by two more Strings buckets completed a 10-0 run and had the Hornets within, 58-57, with 4:53 remaining. Both teams then traded buckets on its next possession, and Wu had an open look from distance at the 3:29 mark that would have given Sacramento State a two-point lead.

However, that 3-ball attempt missed and Idaho State would score on its next two possessions to take a 64-59 lead with 1:10 remaining. Another bucket from Strings made things a one-possession game (64-61) with 42 seconds remaining, but Idaho State's Gary Chivichyan responded with a driving layup with 23 ticks left. The Hornets would then pull down a pair of offensive rebounds on their next possession before Cody Demps finally hit a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to get Sacramento State within, 66-64.

Gene Luzcando was fouled immediately with 2.0 seconds left and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation. Demps pulled the rebound and immediately launched a 75-footer than missed as the buzzer sounded.

Strings was incredible, finishing with career highs in points (24), assists (4), blocked shots (2), steals (3) and minutes (38), and scored 11 of the Hornets' final 17 points of the game. The sophomore forward also pulled down nine rebounds while shooting 10-of-22 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Four of his nine rebounds came on the offensive end, and resulted in six second chance points.

With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 10-13 overall and 3-9 in the Big Sky. The Hornets are 3-9 on the road and 1-6 against conference foes away from home. Amazingly, Sacramento State is now 0-9 when playing on Saturdays, and 10-4 on every other day of the week. Eleven of the last 16 meetings between the Hornets and Bengals have been decided by six points or less.

Idaho State (13-11, 8-4), which is one of the hottest teams in the league, has won seven of its last eight games. In fact, since the Bengals lost to the Hornets inside the Nest on Jan. 14, ISU has lost just once. The Bengals are now 9-2 at home and 6-1 against league opposition.

For the second straight game, Sacramento State shot poorly from the field, finishing at .380 (27-of-71) from the field, .226 (7-of-31) from the 3-point line and .600 (3-for-5) from the free throw line. The Hornets shot .321 in Thursday's loss at Weber State after going 12 straight games shooting .400 or better from the floor. The free throws made and attempted were easily season lows for Sacramento State.

The Hornets converted on four more field goals than Idaho State (.365, 23-for-63) and two more 3-pointers, but the Bengals made 12 more free throws to provide the final two-point margin. Sacramento State was also able to turn 11 ISU turnovers into a 16-11 edge in points off miscues. Sacramento State had just nine turnovers and has now gone six straight games with 11 turnovers or less.

Strings was the only Hornet to score in double figures as four Hornets had at least eight points. That included Demps, who was playing his second straight game after missing nine straight contests with injury. The senior co-captain had nine points, six rebounds and three assists in 31 minutes. Marcus Graves had eight points, four rebounds and two assists, and Dreon Barlett added eight points and a pair of 3-pointers. Wu had six points in 18 minutes, and center Eric Stuteville had five points, three rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes.

Three Idaho State players finished with double figures in points, comprised of Telfair (18 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three steals), Luzcando (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Chivichyan (10 points). The Bengals held a 45-42 edge in the rebounding department and both teams scored 34 points in the paint.

With just six games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State will play a pair of home games next week against Eastern Washington on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday. Both games will tip-off at 7 p.m.