SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a game that Sacramento State led for just 41 seconds, and featured a Marcus Graves fadeaway 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer to tie, it was Eastern Washington that outlasted the Hornets, 94-92, in overtime on Saturday evening at the Nest.
The Hornets started the game by missing 14 of their first 15 field goal attempts, allowing the Eagles to jump out to a 17-2 lead at the 13:26 mark of the first half. EWU would eventually push that lead to a game-high 17 points (30-13), and Sacramento State would slowly chip away at the Eagle lead the rest of the game.
After trailing at the break, 36-26, Sacramento State used a 50-point second half to come all the way back. That included a thrilling 6-0 Hornet run during the final 15 seconds of regulation to tie. Trailing, 74-68, with 21 seconds to play, Sacramento State would get a Graves 3-pointer at the 15-second mark, and an off-ball foul on EWU that resulted in two free throws for Joshua Patton. The subsequent five-point play cut the deficit to one, and Sacramento State would eventually foul Tyler Kidd who buried two free throws to give EWU a 76-73 lead with 4.8 seconds left.
Graves took the inbounds pass and streaked down the floor before hoisting a 25-foot running 3-pointer at the buzzer that rolled around the rim, hit the backboard, hit the front rim and dropped in to tie.
That set up an overtime that featured a combined 34 points as both teams exchanged plenty of made buckets and free throws. Perhaps the biggest play of the overtime session was a three-point play from Jacob Davison that gave the Eagles a 91-88 lead with 30 seconds left. Sacramento State would cut that deficit to one point on two occasions in the final 30 seconds, but could not get over the hump.
The final four seconds of OT featured the same scenario as the final four seconds of regulation. Eastern Washington held a one-point lead and Kidd was at the free throw line with four seconds left. After making the first, Kidd missed his second, and Graves secured the rebound. That set up, yet again, a streaking Graves down the court, and he hoisted a running 26-footer for the win, but the ball bounced off the rim as time expired.
In one of the crazier games at the Nest in recent memory, Eastern Washington led for nearly 41 minutes of game clock while Sacramento State led for just 41 seconds the entire game. The Hornets' last lead was 80-79 with 4:25 left in an overtime session that featured three ties and neither team holding more than a four-point advantage.
The loss dropped Sacramento State to 8-9 overall and 2-6 in the Big Sky Conference. Of the Hornets' six conference losses, four have come by five points or less and three of those close defeats have come at home. The Hornets have dropped nine straight to Eastern Washington dating back to 2015, the longest active losing streak against any team in the Big Sky.
The Eagles, meanwhile, improved to 4-4 in the conference and 6-13 overall. Eastern Washington has now won three of its last four games.
Sacramento State held sizable advantages in points in the paint (46-32), points off turnovers (21-12) and second chance points (22-11). After going 1-for-15 to start the game, the Hornets finished shooting a respectable 42% (31-74) from the field while burying 5-for-17 from distance, and 25-for-33 (76%) from the free throw line.
Eastern Washington shot 48% (31-65) from the floor, and buried 11-of-24 from the 3-point line. That included 3-pointers on each of its first two possessions of overtime. The Eagles shot 52% from the floor in the second half, but were outscored, 50-40.
For Sacramento State, Graves matched his career high with 29 points, 22 of which came after halftime. The senior went 11-for-13 from the free throw line, and added seven rebounds, nine assists and three steals in 42 minutes. Graves wasn't far off from recording his second triple-double of the season.
Ethan Esposito had all 19 of his points after halftime, including 14 in the second half and five in overtime. He finished 7-for-15 from the field and 5-for-7 from the free throw line to go with seven rebounds and a block. Patton had 14 points and two blocks, but fouled out with 3:56 left in overtime. Bryce Fowler rounded out the four Hornets in double figures as the sophomore finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
No other Hornet scored more than four points as Chibueze Jacobs had four points and four rebounds, and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had three points and a pair of steals.
Eastern Washington got big games from Jesse Hunt (22 points, 17 rebounds), Mason Peatling (17 points, 13 rebounds), Kidd (20 points, 11-of-12 from the line) and Davison (19 points).
Sacramento State will now play three road games over the next two weeks. That includes games away from home on Thursday at Idaho State, and Saturday at Weber State. Both will begin at 6:05 p.m. PST.
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