Men’s basketball beats Seattle U 77-65


Mike McGough

Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team won both games on its season-opening road trip after finishing off a 77-65 win at Seattle U on Sunday afternoon.

What started as a back-and-forth game turned into a solid cushion for the visiting team, as the Hornets outscored the Redhawks 52-38 in the second half.

“What was really exciting about it was we just find a way to kind of grind it out,” said Sac State coach Brian Katz. “We got significant contributions off the bench. I thought Trevis Jackson turned the game around with his effort. Diving for a loose ball sparked the team. Nick Hornsby, leadership just flat out, was like ‘No, we’re not losing.’ And of course, it sparks the guy who came in.”

The win followed the Hornets’ upset over Pac-12 opponent Arizona State two days prior and has Sac State off to a 2-0 start to the regular season for the first time since 2012-13.

Some of the Hornets’ freshmen and sophomores played a big role in the victory.

Sophomore guard Marcus Graves and freshman guard Jeff Wu scored 24 and 14 points, respectively.

While Graves started and played 38 minutes, Wu came in off the bench and played 20 minutes. The pair combined for six of their team’s nine made 3-pointers in 29 total attempts (31.0 percent).

Sophomore forward Justin Strings added 13 points and had six of his team’s 40 rebounds.

As a team, the Hornets shot 27-of-64 (42.2 percent) from the floor. Seattle U went 24-of-68 (35.3 percent).

In the first half, Sac State struggled from the field, shooting at a mark of 31.3 percent.

“I think it had to do with Seattle’s long, long zone [defense],” Katz said of his team’s shooting struggles early on. “They got really long, big guys that play the zone and it’s hard to get shots.”

On defense, the Hornets applied full-court pressure throughout the entire game, leading to some of the Redhawks’ 16 turnovers. Hornet players committed 10 turnovers of their own, but had eight steals as a team.

Despite the victory, Sac State lost the rebound battle 54-40 and struggled from the free-throw line, going 14-for-27 (51.9 percent).

The game opened highly competitive, with neither team leading by more than four points in the first half. Seattle U mounted an 11-0 run starting at the end of the first period until the 16:32 mark in the second.

The Redhawks built a lead as high as nine points early in the second, but the Hornets came back. The game was tied 42-42 with 10:31 remaining, after which Sac State outscored Seattle U 35-23.

Senior Cody Demps, who earned a team-high 22 points on Friday night, had scored just two points before fouling out of Sunday’s game with 8:11 left in the second half.

His departure opened the door for Graves, who scored 21 of his 24 points after halftime.

Team co-captain and junior forward Nick Hornsby came up just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

Sac State’s home-friendly preconference schedule has the Hornets playing their next four games at the Hornets Nest, starting with a 7:05 p.m. tip-off Friday against Holy Names University and continuing Tuesday night with a game against causeway rival UC Davis.