Hornets give up another halftime lead to fall to sixth in Big Sky

Hornet senior forward No. 32, John Dickson, shoots over Northern Arizona forward No. 33 Max Jacobsen in the Nest on Monday.

Hornet senior forward No. 32, John Dickson, shoots over Northern Arizona forward No. 33 Max Jacobsen in the Nest on Monday.

Gabe Pacheco

For the second straight game, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team failed to secure a victory after going into halftime with a double-digit lead falling to Northern Arizona 62-61 on Monday at the Nest.

Lumberjacks’ leading scorer Gabe Rogers was fouled in the key on a drive to the basket by Hornets forward John Dickson.

At the line with seven seconds remaining on the clock, Rogers stepped up and calmly knocked down what would be the two game-winning free throws for Northern Arizona.

Hornet point guard Dylan Garrity missed a potential game-winning fade away 15-foot-jump shot that hit off the right side of the rim as time expired.

“There is always a sense of urgency when you have the lead at halftime,” said shooting guard Mikh McKinney. “Everyone is expecting you to hold the lead and come out with the win, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”

The loss was just the third failed attempt the Hornets (10-10, 5-7) could not capitalize on protecting the crucial home-court advantage many teams in the Big Sky Conference use.

“I think it’s huge. When you get on the road in this league, believe me, there is an advantage in basically every gym,” said Hornets’ head coach Brian Katz.

After going up by as much as 14 points in the second half, Sac State was outscored 25-10 to end the game .

Lumberjacks’ Rogers accounted for 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half going four for five from 3-point territory and 6-for-11 from the field.

“They started making a couple of shots,” Katz said. “Rogers kind of got going. All their threes were in the second half. We held them down in the first half offensively, but in the second half he (Rogers) got going and I think that was the difference of the game.”

The full presence of Hornet’s center Konner Veteto’s contribution in the paint was missed in tonight’s game, who only managed to get 14 minutes of playing time. Veteto played through the pain he was feeling from his right knee he had injured in Thursday’s loss at home against Southern Utah.

“He did the best he could. He is not at full strength and we hope he will be by Thursday,” Katz said. “Tonight, he could defend, but he wasn’t able to do much of anything else. He sucked it up and we went from there.”

Sac State did receive a strong energy performance from junior forward Jordan Salley, who replaced the injured Veteto.

Tonight’s game did not feature much interruption by the officials. After going to the line 35 times against Southern Utah, the Hornets only managed to reach the charity strike once going one for two.

Dickson and Garrity led the Hornets  with 13 points each, while McKinney followed behind with 12 points of his own.

Sac State finished the game 25 for 49 from the field and 10 for 18 from 3-point territory.

Northern Arizona forward Max Jacobsen scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half for the Lumberjacks as they finished as a team 26 for 48 from the field and 4 for 14 from distance.

“We certainly didn’t play good down the stretch,” Katz said. “We had the lead and I think our guys played a little not to lose, maybe there was a residual effect from last game.”  

The Hornets look to snap their two game losing streak on Thursday at the Nest as they play host to Eastern Washington, tip-off is at 7:05 p.m.

“We’re going to go to the drawing board and look at film then create a game plan,” McKinney said. “It’s the best thing we can do.”


Gabe can be reached on Twitter at @sh_sports