Hornets score triple digits in exhibition win

Mike McGough

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team began the 2015-16 season in dominant fashion with a 103-63 victory in Friday’s home exhibition game against Simpson University.

“We were pretty good early, and certainly had a big size advantage, but we talked to our guys about taking advantage of it,” Sac State coach Brian Katz said. “If you’re going to go big, you’ve got to take advantage of the opposition.”

Katz, who earlier identified this year’s team as having greater size and strength than in previous years, was pleased with his team’s rebounding efforts. The Hornets out-rebounded Simpson by a 55-24 margin.

Junior forward and team captain Nick Hornsby had a big night for the Hornets, posting 14 points and 13 total rebounds, as well as a team-leading six assists.

“I think we did a great job [on rebounding],” Hornsby said. “We went hard. We didn’t get boxed out easy. So definitely a big upgrade from last year.”

As Katz was pleased to point out, Hornsby had zero turnovers on the night. The Hornets as a team committed 11 turnovers and tallied 24 assists. The Red Hawks turned the ball over nine times.

Guard Jeff Wu made an impression in his first game with Sac State. The Taiwan-born, 6-foot-2-inch freshman scored 11 points, all in the first half.

“My teammates helped me a lot,” Wu said. “They executed for me, and they helped me go through the path, so they really helped me to just play ball.”

Wu also blocked a shot and had three assists in 17 minutes on the floor.

“He’s what we like in a guard: guys that can dribble, pass and shoot,” Katz said of Wu.

Wu’s hot stretch in the first half helped replace starting guard Dreon Barlett, who took a hard fall on a shot attempt early in the game, landing on his hip. Barlett scored the first five points of the game, and ended up with eight total, but played just six minutes.

The game was a blowout from the opening tip, with the Hornets up 20-2 in under six minutes of play. They went into the half leading 57-25.

Katz got everybody involved in the action. Five different Hornets posted double digit point totals, and all 13 Sac State players who entered the game scored.

Forward Justin Strings led the Hornets’ scoring effort with 15 points on six-of-eight shooting from the field, including two made 3-pointers.

Sac State shot 51.5 percent (34-of-66) from the field as a team and 40 percent (10-of-25) from 3-point range.

Unlike the Hornets, the game was not the first of the year for the Red Hawks, who have dual membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Christian College Athletic Association. The visitors entered the matchup with a record of 1-4, having lost three straight.

Sac State will open its regular season at 4:35 p.m. next Friday at Arizona State, followed by a road game Sunday at Seattle U. The Hornets will then play four straight games at the Nest to close out November.