SACRAMENTO -- Three Hornets scored in double figures, and Sacramento State used a stingy defensive effort to limit UC Riverside to 33% shooting on the way to a 62-49 win over the Highlanders on Friday evening inside the Nest.
The Hornets scored the first four points of the game and never trailed, leading the final 39:43 of game clock. Sacramento State opened up a lead as large as 20 points early in the second half, and led by at least seven points the final 33:39 of the contest.
Sacramento State's early season returns have been marked by defense, as the Hornets have allowed a combined 76 points (38.0 per contest) through two games. After limiting Simpson to a program-record low 27 points in the season opener last Friday, Sacramento State forced the Highlanders to just 33% (16-49) shooting from the field, and 2-of-15 from the 3-point line. That included a first half in which UC Riverside shot just 4-of-25 (16%) and trailed at the break, 31-15.
The Hornets took control of the game with an 18-2 run midway through the first half to take a 25-7 lead at the 8:56 mark. UC Riverside would get all the way back within seven points (52-45) with 2:48 to play, but an Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa corner 3-ball on the Hornets' next possession put the game away.
With the victory, Sacramento State is off to a 2-0 start for the second straight season after opening the year last Friday with a blowout win over Simpson. In addition, the Hornets maintained their winning ways at home, improving to 69-30 inside the Nest dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
UC Riverside, a member of the Big West Conference, was off to its best start (2-0) since joining the Div. I ranks in 2000. The Highlanders had won at Nebraska, 66-47, and posted a 58-51 home victory over Idaho. The loss dropped UC Riverside to 2-1 on the young season.
The Hornets finished the game shooting 45% (21-47) from the field, 43% (3-7) from the 3-point line and 71% (17-24) from the free throw line. Sacramento State was outrebounded, 37-30, but had a 32-24 advantage in points in the paint.
Bryce Fowler led all players with 17 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists. He was joined in double figures by Brandon Davis (16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and Joshua Patton (16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks). Davis, a transfer from UC Santa Barbara who redshirted last year, continues to look strong in his Hornet debut season. The sophomore is now averaging a well-rounded 11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 55% from the field.
Patton already has six blocked shots this season, and is just five blocks away from setting the school record. His 148 career blocks trails Cassius Kelleybrew's program-best 152 stuffs.
Mauriohooho-Le'afa finished with seven points and four steals, and knocked down perhaps the biggest shot of the game, a corner 3 dagger that put the Hornets back up 10 points with 2:13 to play.
Chibueze Jacobs and two points and five rebounds, and Ethan Esposito two points and three boards. Sacramento State used nine players in tonight's game. James Bridges, Rick Barros III, Jamion Wright and Spencer Monteiro all missed the game with injury.
For UC Riverside, Dominick Pickett (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Callum McRae (11 points, 12 rebounds) led the way.
The Hornets will attempt to improve to 3-0 when they take on UC Davis at the Golden 1 Center on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Sacramento State is 67-50 in the all-time series against the Aggies, and won last year's matchup. For tickets to Wednesday's game, please click here.
NOTES -- Sacramento State improved to 7-12 all-time against UC Riverside, but the Hornets have won the last three meetings.