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MEN’S BASKETBALL NOW 4-0! BIG SECOND HALF COMEBACK PROPELS HORNETS TO 77-72 ROAD WIN AT PEPPERDINE

MEN’S BASKETBALL NOW 4-0! BIG SECOND HALF COMEBACK PROPELS HORNETS TO 77-72 ROAD WIN AT PEPPERDINE

MALIBU, Calif. — After trailing by 11 points at halftime, Sacramento State outscored Pepperdine, 54-38, in the second half (including a 15-0 run) to eventually defeat the Waves, 77-72,  on Saturday evening at the Firestone Fieldhouse.

The victory allowed Sacramento State to improve to 4-0 for just the third time in the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.), as the 1999-00 and 2015-16 teams also accomplished the feat. In the last nine days, the Hornets have defeated two teams from the Big West Conference (UC Davis, UC Riverside) and one team from the West Coast Conference (Pepperdine). Tonight's matchup marked the first time since 1969 the Hornets and Waves faced one another, and Sacramento State saw four of its players score in double figures.

Things looked bleak at halftime after the Hornets shot just 9-for-27 from the field and trailed at the break, 34-23. However, behind the strength of a 15-0 run that erased a 42-35 deficit and gave Sacramento State a 50-42 lead, the Hornets were able to win their fourth straight to start the season. The run lasted 4:35 and saw Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa bury a pair of 3-pointers, Joshua Patton score five points and Ethan Esposito chip in four points.

Pepperdine would close to within four points (53-49) with 4:58 remaining, but Sacramento State responded with a 12-2 run to take a game-high 15-point lead (64-49) with two minutes to play. A barrage of fouls and free throws ensued, and saw Sacramento State go 13-of-17 from the line over the final 1:28 to eventually provide the final outcome.

The Hornets were playing their first road game of the season after playing the first three in Sacramento, including Wednesday's 10-point win against UC Davis at the Golden 1 Center. Pepperdine, which had won three straight until losing at USC, 91-82, on Tuesday, dropped to 3-3 with the loss. The Waves were playing just their second home game, with the first resulting in a 77-73 win over UC Irvine. The Hornets and Waves played each other for just the third time ever, and Sacramento State now owns a 2-1 record in the series.

The Hornets dominated on the glass, outrebounding Pepperdine, 42-31. That included 14 offensive rebounds that resulted in 13 second chance points. Sacramento State also forced 17 Pepperdine turnovers and outscored the Waves, 22-9, in points off miscues. After scoring just 23 points in the first half, Sacramento State shot 52% (15-29) from the field, 5-of-10 from the 3-point line  and 19-for-26 from the free throw line in the second half. Overall, the Hornets shot 43% from the field, 33% from the 3-point line and 73% from the free throw line.

Pepperdine finished 40% (25-58) from the field, 47% (8-17) from the 3-point line and 90% (18-20) from the free throw line. However, Pepperdine committed 13 of its 17 turnovers in the second half, and the Hornets took advantage, scoring 18 second-half points off turnovers.

Mauriohooho-Le'afa was incredible in the second half, scoring 21 of his career-high tying 23 points after halftime. During the second half, the fourth-year senior was 4-for-5 from the 3-point line and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. He finished with two assists and four steals to go along with his 23 points in 36 minutes of play. Mauriohooho-Le'afa now has nine steals in his last three games.

Joining him in double figures for Sacramento State was Ethan Esposito (15 points, 8 rebounds), and 13 of those points came in the second half. Center Joshua Patton had 13 points, four rebounds, three rebounds and a pair of steals, and swingman Bryce Fowler posted 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Point guard Brandon Davis had nine points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Osi Nwachukwu finished with five points and three rebounds. Chibueze Jacobs chipped in five rebounds and Jordan Cooke-Harper posted three boards.

For Pepperdine, Kameron Edwards led the way with 20 points, Colbey Ross had 18 points and six assists (seven turnovers), and Kessler Edwards posted 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

Sacramento State will now take six days off before returning to face 23rd-ranked Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 6:05 p.m. PST.