Hornet comeback effort falls short

Mike McGough

A poor shooting night by Sacramento State’s men’s basketball team led to a 66-61 loss Wednesday at UC Davis.

The Hornets chipped away at an early 13-point deficit in the first half to tie the game late, at 61-61 with 1:12 left on the clock. The Aggies regained a 64-61 lead, and a missed 3-point attempt by Sac State guard Dreon Barlett with seven seconds left sealed the defeat.

“I thought they [the Aggies] played great; they really defended and created problems for us,” said Sac State coach Brian Katz. “They played better tonight. Really, the game was pretty similar to the one over there [at Sac State], just the roles were reversed.”

With the loss, the Hornets split this season’s causeway series at 1-1 after winning last Tuesday’s home game by an 84-79 final.

Both games were decided by five points. Katz said home court advantage was likely what tipped the scale in each game.

Wednesday’s game was Sac State’s second loss of the year, dropping the team’s record to 5-2. UC Davis improved to 4-2.

As a team, the Hornets shot 23-for-61 (37.7 percent) from the field, while the Aggies went 23-for-51 (45.1 percent).

Sac State had a solid effort put in by forward Justin Strings, who led both teams with 16 points scored. Strings made 4-of-6 attempted field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point distance, before fouling out in the last two minutes.

Senior guard Cody Demps, the Hornets’ leading scorer entering Wednesday’s game, struggled from the floor. He shot 1-for-7 and scored two points before fouling out with 10:48 left in the game.

The Hornets, whose biggest deficit of the season had been 10 points entering Wednesday’s game, found themselves trailing 21-8 with 9:05 left in the first half. While the team has managed to come back from late deficits a few times this season, Sac State could not claw its way back in this one, tying the game late but never regaining a lead.

“I just think we still show a great ability to come back and not give in and always have a chance, which is really a big deal,” Katz said. “You like that from a coaching point of view.”

The Aggies led 35-26 at halftime.

Neither team found success at the free-throw line. The Aggies shot 14-for-24 (58.3 percent) and the Hornets were 8-for-16 (50.0 percent).

The rebounding margin was even at 39 per side, but Davis tripled up on Sac State in points in the paint, scoring 30 to the Hornets’ 10.

With his team having played four games in nine days, Katz said there are no signs of physical fatigue and that his team is still mentally tough.

Next up for the Hornets is a home game against the University of the Incarnate Word. Sac State will tip off at 7:05 p.m. on Monday.