CHENEY, Wash. – Sacramento State shot just 6-of-29 (20.7%) from 3-point range and was held to a season-low 65 points, 27 points below its season average, in a 78-65 loss Saturday at Eastern Washington.
The Hornets (11-4, 3-3 Big Sky) made just six 3-pointers for the second consecutive game after starting the week first in the NCAA with 14.4 three-pointers made per game. Eastern Washington (8-8, 4-3 Big Sky), which was picked to win the conference in the preseason polls, became the first team this season to win the turnover battle against the Hornets, forcing 21 Sacramento State giveaways with 19 of their own.
Neither team shot well in the first half, but despite shooting just 33.3% in the period the Hornets held a 30-29 halftime lead. Sacramento State held a six point lead at 20-14 but EWU responded with an 8-2 spurt to level the score with four minutes left in the half.
The score was tied again at 27-27 with two minutes to play and the Hornets took the slim 30-29 lead into the intermission. The 30 first half points were the fewest the Hornets have scored in a half this season, six less than their previous low of 36 against Montana.
The Hornets hit a quick 3-pointer to open the second half but went cold from there as the Eagles went on a 10-0 run and would lead for the remainder of the game. With Sacramento State starting the second half 3-of-18 from the field, Eastern Washington opened up a 14-point lead with 7:51 remaining.
However, the Hornets used an 11-2 spurt to get within a 59-54 deficit with 4:30 to play. The visitors were still within five points with 1:45 to go but a 10-0 Eastern Washington run iced the Eagle victory.
Sacramento State had season lows in 3-point percentage and field goals made in the game, but had one of its best free throw shooting games of the season making 19-of-23 shots from the line. Junior Shanti Smith led the squad with 17 points, making 5-of-6 free throws and a pair of threes, while redshirt freshman Margaret Huntington had a career-high 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Four Eagles ended the game with double-digit point totals and the team had a 42-24 edge in points in the paint and a slim 41-37 rebounding advantage. Eastern Washington shot 54.8% in the second half, including a 5-of-6 line from 3-point range, after shooting just 39.4% in the first half without a 3-point make.
Sacramento State returns home to host Big Sky-leading North Dakota (11-5 overall, 6-1 Big Sky) at 7 p.m. Thursday in The Nest.