Hornets bounce back with win over Pacific


Guard Marcus Graves drives into the lane to attempt a layup against Pacific at the Hornets Nest on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Graves led the Hornets in scoring with 19 points in a 79-71 win.

Mike McGough

Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team recovered from Saturday’s loss with a 79-71 win over Pacific on Sunday to close out the Sacramento State Invitational.

With the win, the Hornets improved to 5-1 on the season after a 4-0 start.

“Every win’s a big deal for us,” said Sac State coach Brian Katz. “I’m more excited about the fact that we bounced back after last night. I thought last night we were a half step slow.”

Sac State split its two games in the weekend’s four-team tournament. South Dakota won the tournament with two wins: 96-90 over the Hornets on Saturday and 77-71 over Eastern Washington on Sunday.

One night after allowing South Dakota to shoot over 63 percent from the 3-point range, the Hornets held the Tigers to go 6-of-24 (25.0 percent) from behind the line.

Sunday’s game was tight throughout the first half, which ended in a 32-32 tie, but the Hornets started to pull away in the second, building a 47-39 advantage by the 14:26 mark.

Sac State’s starting guards played a key part in the Hornets’ win.

Sophomore Marcus Graves scored a game-high 19 points in 39 minutes on the floor, going 7-for-13 from the field and 4-of-6 from deep. He added six assists and eight steals on the other side of the ball.

“We all picked it up on defense,” Graves said. “We knew against South Dakota, we didn’t play any defense, and we were all disappointed in ourselves. We all knew we could do better, so we all picked it up on defense and I think that was big for us tonight.”

The Tigers shot 25-of-55 from the field (45.5 percent) compared to the 28-of-56 mark (50 percent) achieved by the Hornets.

Senior Cody Demps scored 17 points—14 of them in the second half—to go along with seven assists.

Demps said it was a matter of “going back to basics,” particularly on the defensive end.

“It’s all about a mindset as well, just coming in there knowing that we had to pick things up,” Demps said.

Despite the victory, the Hornets lost the rebound battle by a significant margin of 40-27. Katz said his team’s full court pressure was the key to overcoming that deficit.

“The only way you can offset it [rebounding] is if you turn them over, and they made nine more turnovers than we did,” Katz said.

Junior forward Nick Hornsby led Sac State with seven rebounds in addition to his 13 points and three blocked shots.

It was the 39th meeting between Sac State and Pacific. Pacific owned the all-time advantage, 31-7, entering Sunday’s game, and the Hornets had lost 14 of their last 15 meetings with the Tigers going into the matchup.

Looking forward, the Hornets play three of their five December games on the road.

The Hornets play their next game, a rematch against the Aggies, at UC Davis on Wednesday evening. Sac State beat UC Davis 84-79 in their matchup last Tuesday at The Nest.