Hornet’s defeat Chapman in basketball exhibition game

Center Justin Eller, charges for the basket at the Nov. 7 game against Chapman.:


Center Justin Eller, charges for the basket at the Nov. 7 game against Chapman.:

Ronnie Nurss

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team opened the 2008-09 season with a 64-53 win over Chapman University in a exhibition game Friday, Nov. 7, at the Hornets Nest.

This was a team that went though a complete makeover; 12 new players, a new coaching staff, and new jerseys, showcased strong offensive play in the post and a scrappy team defense that forced Chapman to 22 turnovers.

The Hornet’s key players lay in their four returning players: Loren Leath (20 points), Justin Eller (18), Donald Thomas (11), and Randy Adams (5). The four players combined for 54 of the team’s 64 points.

The Hornets never trailed the whole game and set the tone early with a 7-0 lead. Junior forward Eller proved to be a dominant force inside the key against the undersized Chapman front court. The Hornet’s starting front court combined for 25 of the team’s 37 first half points.

The Hornets controlled most of the first half. Senior Leath was a spark off the bench with seven first-half points and Eller led all players in scoring with 14.

Chapman opened the second half with a 16-6 run and chipped away the Sac State’s lead, making the game close to 43-37. Guard Griffin Ramme carried Chapman with 2 three-pointers in a row with 6 minutes remaining.

With the score 51-46, The Hornets counter attacked with a basket from Leath and another from Thomas to extend the lead to nine points. After securing their lead for the rest of the second half, The Hornets won the exhibition game 64-53.

Chapman was led by Ramme, who had 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting and Justin Riley who contributed 10 points. Center Jared Kaiser added 4 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Chapman shot 40 percent from behind the arc and 64 percent from the free throw line.

Loren Leath led the Hornets in scoring with 20 off the bench on 8-for-16 shooting and added three steals. Forward Eller produced 18 points and five rebounds, four of those were offensive rebounds. Thomas added 11 points.

The Hornets forced Chapman to 22 turnovers and capitalized with 28 points off those mistakes. The Hornets also controlled the paint with 38 points and 19 second chance points.

One of the biggest advantages for Sac State was the bench, which scored 25 points compared to Chapman’s bench which only contributed 11 points.

The Hornets also shot 49% from the field for the game and 65% on 23 free-throw attempts.

Despite having 12 new players and a new coaching staff, the players believe the team is adjusting well.

“It’s been great so far,” Eller said. “We have great guys who working hard together.”

Senior Loren Leath believes that hard work has helped the team gel together.

“We have gelled pretty good,” Leath said. “We just have to play hard and the gelling will come.”

Head Coach Brian Katz will to look to improve from this exhibition victory and get ready for their season opener.

“We played really good the first half,” Katz said. “But we let up defensively in the second half.”

Katz also highlighted other areas that the Hornets need to work on.

“We have to work on our rebounding too,” Katz said. “We got out-rebounded 31-28 and that can’t happen.”

The Hornets will open their 2008-2009 season with a visit to Fresno State next Friday at 7:05 p.m., on Nov. 14. The Hornets will be on the road for the first four games. Sac State’s first home game will take place at 7:05 p.m. on Dec. 1.