Men’s basketball suffers first loss of the season


Mike McGough

The Hornets came up short of setting a new school record Saturday afternoon.

With a chance to open the season at a perfect 5-0, Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season, 96-90, at home against South Dakota.

Sac State coach Brian Katz credited the skill level of his team’s opponent.

“They’re a nightmare to guard,” Katz said. “They can dribble, pass and shoot.”

South Dakota had a big night on offense, scoring 48 points in each half and shooting 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from long distance. Freshman Dan Jech scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor in 24 minutes off the bench.

The Hornets had a 49-48 halftime lead and led 81-80 with 4:39 to play after mounting a quick 7-0 run to erase South Dakota’s cushion in the second half. But the Coyotes stormed to a 7-0 run of their own, taking an 88-81 advantage and controlling the game thereafter.

Forward Justin Strings said his team lacked its normal defensive effort.

“We just didn’t execute our game plan the way we’re supposed to, the way we usually do,” Strings said. “We didn’t play like ourselves. We didn’t play Hornet basketball.”

Strings was one of five Hornets to post double-digit scoring on the offensive end, tallying 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor.

Senior guard Cody Demps led the Hornets with 19 points scored and added 11 assists for the double-double.

Sac State was edged out at a 36-33 rate in the rebound department. Junior forward Nick Hornsby, a team captain, led his team with seven rebounds.

Hornsby didn’t believe the pressure to start 5-0 and break the record played a part in the loss.

“I don’t think anybody was really thinking about that [record],” Hornsby said. “We never really mentioned it in the locker room, never talked about it too much.”

The game opened the two-day, four-team Sacramento State Invitational at the Hornets Nest. With another game to be played Sunday, the turnaround will be a quick one.

“That game’s over with now,” Hornsby said. “Looking forward to tomorrow. We’ve got a game tomorrow. Get up in the morning, get ready for them [and] let’s get it started.”

Katz acknowledged that, given the 4-0 start, opposing teams have started to make adjustments against the Hornets.

“We told our guys it’s real simple: it’s a race to figure your team out,” Katz said. “Everybody in the country’s trying to do that, and then play to your strengths and away from your weaknesses … I told our guys earlier, ‘You need to understand something. People are going to scout you. They’re going to look and they’re going to see what you do and try to take it away.'”

Saturday proved to be a busy day at the Hornets Nest, and an unfortunate one for Sac State fans. In addition to the tournament’s second game, a matchup between Pacific and Eastern Washington that followed the Hornets’ loss, Sac State’s women’s basketball team lost to the University of San Francisco earlier in the afternoon.

The men conclude tournament action Sunday evening, with a 5:35 p.m. tip-off against Pacific. Following the end of the tournament, Sac State will open December with a rematch against UC Davis next Wednesday on the Aggies’ home court.