MEN’S HOOPS WINS ON THE ROAD AT CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE, 88-68; MATCHES BEST START IN PROGRAM HISTORY

MEN’S HOOPS WINS ON THE ROAD AT CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE, 88-68; MATCHES BEST START IN PROGRAM HISTORY

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Four Hornets scored at least 14 points, and Sacramento State led by double figures the final 22:50 on the way to a convincing road win, 88-68, at Cal State Northridge on Saturday evening at The Matadome.

Sacramento State scored exactly 44 points in both halves, and held commanding advantages in rebounds (43-29), points in the paint (50-32) and bench points (36-14). In the process, the Hornets snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Matadors when playing in Northridge, and posted its largest margin of victory against CSUN in 38 tries.

The Hornets continue to enjoy the early-season success as the team is now 4-1, matching its best start after five games in program history (1948-pres.). Sacramento State has been 4-1 on nine other occasions. In addition, the Hornets improved to 3-1 against Big West Conference teams this year, including wins over UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge. Fullerton and UC Davis were picked 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Big West preseason poll.

The win is also the Hornets' largest margin of victory on the road (20 points) since a 74-49 win at Utah Valley on Dec. 27, 2014.

In tonight's win, Sacramento State shot 55% (33-60) from the field and 86% (18-21) from the free throw line to go along with nine steals. Of the Hornets' 43 rebounds, 13 came on the offensive glass, leading to 15 second-chance points. The Hornets limited CSUN to 39% shooting (24-62) from the field and 27% (4-15) from the 3-point line. Sacramento State outscored CSUN by 13 points in the first half and seven more in the second half.

The Matadors (1-5) led early, 15-6, before Sacramento State cranked out a 38-16 run over the final 14:23 of the half to take control of the game. The Hornets, who improved to just 9-29 against Northridge, held at least a 13-point advantage the entire second half.

For Sacramento State, senior guard Marcus Graves led the way with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with six rebounds, five assists and two steals in 33 minutes. Sophomore forward Ethan Esposito continued his torrid start to the season, posting his second double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Five of those rebounds came on the offensive glass, and the transfer from San Diego City College is now averaging 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds on 60% shooting from the field.

Center Joshua Patton narrowly missed a double-double with 15 points and a career-high tying nine rebounds on 7-for-10 shooting. Swingman Bryce Fowler, who had a massive +30 plus/minus ratio in 28 minutes, finished with 14 points, including 3-of-7 from long range. Sacramento State now has three players averaging better than 13 points per game, comprised of Graves (14.4), Esposito (14.2) and Patton (13.2). Both Patton and Esposito have scored in double figures in all five games.

Guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had nine points, three rebounds and a game-high three steals, and Osi Nwachukwu posted eight points and a steal. Sacramento State used 11 players in tonight's game, as guard Jordan Tolbert played in his second game since returning from injury, finishing with four points and a steal in five minutes. Six different Hornets had at least one steal.

For CSUN, Lamine Diane had 19 points, but was limited to 7-of-17 shooting. Terrell Gomez had 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 3-for-8 from long range.

Sacramento State will play the final leg of its season-high tying three-game road trip next Saturday at Portland. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. The Portland game will be the first of just three remaining non-league games as Big Sky Conference play begins on Dec. 29 at home against Northern Colorado.

NOTES — The Hornets were also 4-1 during the following seasons: 2015-16, 2014-15, 2012-13, 1999-00, 1988-89, 1987-88, 1985-86, 1972-73 and 1952-53…including an 87-82 overtime win against Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 24, the Hornets have now scored at least 87 points twice in the last three games.