SACRAMENTO -- Seven different Hornets scored at least six points, led by senior Marcus Graves' 14 points and 10 assists, as Sacramento State cruised to a 69-48 victory over Idaho in a Big Sky Conference matchup Thursday evening inside the Nest.
The Hornets led for more than 35 minutes of game clock, and held a double-digit advantage the final 27:42 of the contest. Sacramento State raced out a 37-19 lead at halftime, and led by at least 15 points the entire second half. That includes opening up a lead as large as 25 points in the second half before settling for the 21-point victory.
Sacramento State broke things open with a 26-4 run during the opening half. When the run began, the Hornets trailed, 9-4, and by the time the 11-minute barrage finished, Sacramento State led, 30-13, with 4:57 left in the half. The Hornets buried three 3-pointers during the run, capped by a Graves' 3-ball to put the Hornets up 17 points.
Sacramento State held sizable advantages in points in the paint (38-20), rebounds (34-24), assists (21-13) and second chance points (12-5). The Hornets shot 52% (27-52) from the field, the fourth best mark of the season. The team also buried six 3-pointers and went 9-for-13 from the free throw line. By comparison, Idaho shot 39% (17-44) from the field and was limited to just four offensive rebounds.
With the victory, Sacramento State improved to 8-8 overall and 2-5 in the Big Sky Conference. Tonight marked the first of a stretch that will see the Hornets play six of nine games at home, including a date with Eastern Washington on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Sacramento State moved its home recored to 5-2 this season, and 63-27 (.700 winning percentage) inside the Nest dating back to the 2012-13 season.
Tonight's win was the first at home against a conference opponent after a five-point loss to Northern Colorado and two-point loss to Idaho State over the last month.
Idaho dropped its fourth straight while falling to 4-14 overall and 1-6 in the Big Sky. The Vandals lost four starters and seven players from last season's team which finished 22-9 overall and 14-4 in conference play. Sacramento State is now 3-8 at home against Idaho, but three of those victories have come over the last four years.
Graves' double-double was the fourth of the season for the team co-captain and he was proficient from the field, shooting 5-for-9 overall, including 3-of-4 from distance and making his only free throw attempt. He also had just two turnovers in 32 minutes, finishing with a 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Joining Graves in double figures were Joshua Patton (13 points, eight rebounds, two steals) and Ethan Esposito (11 points, five rebounds). Patton was 5-for-6 from the floor, and Esposito 4-of-6.
Bryce Fowler had seven points, seven assists and one steal, Chibueze Jacobs seven points, four rebounds and two steals, and both Osi Nwachukwu and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had six points and three rebounds. James Bridges added five points, four rebounds and a steal.
Idaho was led by Jared Rodriguez's 11 points and nine rebounds while Cassius Smits-Franci finished with seven points and five boards.
Sacramento State will play again on Saturday night against Eastern Washington at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets and Eagles will be playing the first of two games against each other, including a matchup in Cheney, Wash., on Feb. 28.
NOTES -- The Hornets used the following starting lineup - Graves and Fowler at guard, Nwachukwu and Jacobs at forward, and Patton at center - for the first time all season…Calvin Martin did not play because of injury…Mauriohooho-Le'afa had started the first 15 games until coming off the bench to play 24 minutes tonight.
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