Sac State loses to Fullerton after giving up halftime lead

State Hornet Staff

FULLERTON, Calif. – What was once an 8-point halftime lead, ended in a 59-51 loss. 

Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team took on a Jekyll and Hyde persona Saturday against Cal State Fullerton at Titan Gym. 

The Hornets made 44 percent of their shots, including five 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, but in the second half they made only seven shots for the remaining of the game.

The loss was Sac State’s second in the last three games, during which the team has been outscored by 33 combined points in the second half.

“We need to play a whole game and not just one half,” said junior point guard Dylan Garrity, who finished with 12 points.

Garrity was just one of five Hornets who either lived or went to high school in Orange County. Junior forward Zach Mills, who transferred from Irvine Valley College this year, chipped in with six points and Tustin High School graduate Nick Hornsby finished with two points and six rebounds.

The Hornets started the game with an offensive outburst as they hit four out of their first seven 3-pointers. 

After Garrity hit back-to-back 3-point shots, Sac State extended its lead to 25-15 with 3:37 left in the first half as junior guard Mikh McKinney hit another shot from the wing.  

“I really liked our defense tonight and I liked us offensively in the first half,” said Sac State head coach Brian Katz. 

The Hornets held Fullerton to 40 percent shooting in the first half and 25 percent from 3-point range to take a 29-21 lead into half time.

During the first seven minutes of the second half, Fullerton went on a 13-3 run and limited to Sac State to just four field goals in 16 minutes of play.

“(Fullerton) had a lot to do with that,” Katz said. “They just had a better energy that we did.”

Part of the reason Katz said his team struggled was due to the way the Titans defended, isolating the ball handler. 

Sac State had a chance to bring the game within a point with 41 seconds left, but missed three consecutive 3-pointers on each of its last three possessions. 

Despite the loss, Hornsby finished with his most minutes since the team’s first game on Nov. 8.

“He’s been phenomenal and improved a lot,” Katz said. “Early on he had trouble turning the ball over and he is not doing that anymore.”

Sac State returns home next Saturday against UC Riverside for its final game before the Big Sky Conference season starts on Jan 2.

Tip off is at 2:05 p.m.

Ryan can be reached on Twitter at @rskuhn