POCATELLO, Idaho — Sacramento State led for nearly 38 minutes of game clock, and opened up a lead as large as 21 points in the second half, before eventually beating Idaho State, 74-58, on Thursday evening at Holt Arena.
Tonight marked the largest win on the road against a Big Sky opponent since beating Southern Utah, 77-49, on Jan. 11, 2014.
Idaho State opened the first 16 minutes by missing 15 of its first 21 shots from the field while committing seven turnovers. Conversely, during that same time frame, Sacramento State was 14-for-25 from the field, allowing the Hornets to take a 35-15 lead with 4:05 left before halftime. The Hornets eventually went into the break with a 42-22 advantage, their second highest lead at the half all season.
Idaho State chipped away at the lead in the second half, getting as close as eight points (56-48) after Brandon Boyd buried a 3-pointer with 8:24 to play. However, Sacramento State immediately answered with a 7-0 run, which included the fourth 3-pointer of the evening from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa, to jump back on top, 63-48, with 6:22 left. Sacramento State led by at least 13 point the rest of the way.
The Hornets have now won three of their last five games, and are a 94-92 overtime loss to Eastern Washington away from winning four of the last five. The Hornets improved to 9-9 overall, 3-6 in the Big Sky, and have two road wins over Big Sky opposition.
The win also avenged a 72-70 home loss to Idaho State earlier this season in which the Bengals scored the game-winning bucket with 1.8 seconds remaining. Sacramento State is 3-6 in league play, but four of those losses have come by five points or less. The Hornets are now 21-31 all-time against Idaho State, including a 9-16 mark when playing in Pocatello.
Idaho State lost its fifth straight while falling to 7-12 overall and 3-7 in the Big Sky. The Bengals are a team that has road wins at Boise State and Santa Clara earlier this season.
Sacramento State shot 55% (28-51) from the field and 46% (6-13) from the 3-point line. Four of those six 3-pointers came from Mauriohooho-Le'afa who went 4-for-7 from distance. Conversely, Idaho State shot just 40% (20-50) from the floor, and 23% (6-26) from beyond the arc. The Hornets also enjoyed a massive 37-23 advantage in the rebounding department while outscoring the Bengals in points in the paint, 34-26, and bench points, 25-15.
Senior guard Marcus Graves had another big night, finishing with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-for-1 from the 3-point line. He also had five rebounds, six assists and just one turnover in 35 minutes. That includes a massive +24 in plus/minus ratio. Over his last seven games, Graves is averaging 19.3 points, and his overall average of 16.2 points per game is the fourth best mark in the Big Sky.
Mauriohooho-Le'afa finished with a season-high tying 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 4-of-7 from the 3-point line. Four Hornets scored in double figures - Joshua Patton had 12 points and two blocked shots, and Bryce Fowler tallied 10 points. Six different Hornets had at least three rebounds, including Osi Nwachukwu's nine rebounds and two steals, and Calvin Martin's eight rebounds. Four of those rebounds for Martin came on the offensive glass.
Chibueze Jacobs had six points, four rebounds and a steal, Ethan Esposito had five points and a steal, and Martin had four points to go along with his eight boards.
Idaho State was led by Boyd's 17 points, including 16 in the second half. Jared Stutzman added 12 points.
Sacramento State, which was playing the first leg of a three-game road trip, returns to action on Saturday at Weber State at 6:05 p.m. PST.
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