OGDEN, Utah — Both teams converted on 27 made field goals, but Weber State buried six more 3-pointers and four more free throws on the way to a 75-65 win over Sacramento State on Saturday evening at the Dee Events Center.
In a game that Weber State led for nearly 35 minutes of game clock, the Wildcats shot 47% (27-58) from the field, 35% (8-23) from the 3-point line and a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line. Sacramento State, conversely, shot 46% (27-59) from the field, but just 2-for-12 (17%) from the 3-point line and 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
The Wildcats led at halftime, 42-31, and extended that lead to a game-high 21 points at 63-42 with 10:20 remaining in the contest. However, Sacramento State ripped off a 19-3 run over the next 6:41 to close with in five points of the Weber State lead (66-61) with 3:39 to play. Four different Hornets scored during the run, including Marcus Graves (5), Ethan Esposito (5), James Bridges (5) and Bryce Fowler (4).
After Weber State got a bucket from Jerrick Harding to go back up seven points, Esposito responded with a layup to, once again, cut the Weber lead to five points (68-63), with 2:11 to play. That set the stage for perhaps the biggest, and luckiest, shot of the game. Harding whittled the shot clock all the way down before launching an absolute prayer of a contested 3-point look that hit backboard first, and somehow fell in the hoop. By the time the Harding prayer was answered, Sacramento State found itself down, 71-63, with 1:02 to play.
The Hornets would get no closer the rest of the way as the Wildcats scored four of the game's final six points to claim the 10-point victory.
Sacramento State, which won on the road Thursday night at Idaho State, dropped to 9-10 overall and 3-7 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets have split their last six games, and will conclude their three-game road trip next week at Northern Colorado.
Weber State, which won 20 games a year ago while going 13-5 in conference, improved to 14-8 overall, 8-3 in league and 8-3 on the home floor. Sacramento State has always had trouble playing in Ogden, as the Hornets dropped to 2-23 when playing on the Wildcats' home floor.
Weber State owned a 35-28 advantage in the rebounding department, and both teams combined to commit just 23 turnovers (SAC 12, WSU 11). The Wildcats also outscored the Hornets in second chance points by a 9-2 margin.
Sacramento State had four players score in double figures, including Graves, who finished with 14 points, four assists and two steals while playing all 40 minutes. The fifth-year senior has led the Hornets in scoring in five straight, and eight of the last nine games. Fowler added 12 points (6-of-10 shooting), three rebounds and three assists, and Esposito posted 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and four rebounds. All 12 of those points for Esposito came in the second half.
Joshua Patton had 11 points and a blocked shot, but fouled out with 7:55 remaining. Patton had just one foul at halftime, but picked up four fouls in just nine second-half minutes. Osi Nwachukwu, who scored Sacramento State's first six points of the game, finished with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. Bridges had five points and six rebounds, and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
For Weber State, Harding, who was a preseason first team all-conference selection, finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He finished shooting 8-of-16 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Brekkott Chapman had 15 points and seven rebounds, Zach Braxton 12 points and seven rebounds, and Israel Barnes finished with 10 points and five boards.
Sacramento State will play just once next week, a road game at Northern Colorado on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. PST. After that matchup, the Hornets will begin a season-long four-game homestead on Feb. 11 against Portland State.
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