Men’s basketball takes down NAU on senior night

Andrew Brown

The Sacramento State Hornets beat the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks 64-51 at The Nest on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.

Led behind a big second half, Sac State (13-16, 6-12 in the Big Sky Conference) never let Northern Arizona (5-14, 3-15 in Big Sky) get back in the game. The Hornets outscored the Lumberjacks 39-22 in the second half en route to their biggest margin of victory in the Big Sky Conference this season.

Sac State was led by sophomore guard Justin Strings and his 13 points and five rebounds. Junior center Eric Stuteville had 11 points and six rebounds, and sophomore guard Marcus Graves finished with 10 points and six assists.

The story of the night, however, was the success of senior guards Cody Demps and Dreon Barlett. Saturday was Senior Night at The Nest, as it was Sac State’s final home game of the season. Demps and Barlett were honored in a pregame ceremony highlighting their time at Sac State. Both players’ families joined them on the court for the ceremony.

Demps and Barlett told reporters the emotional aspect of the game had not quite hit them yet. Both players said they felt there was some magic left in the season, in reference to the Big Sky Conference tournament in Reno next week. Demps finished with eight points, six rebounds and six assists. Barlett had nine points, all 3-pointers, and seven rebounds in the win.

Sac State head coach Brian Katz didn’t make many adjustments at halftime, but told the team they needed to move the ball more.

“I thought in the first half the ball was getting stagnant at times,” Katz said.

Sac State lost last season to Northern Arizona in the final month of the season, once in a fight for the conference lead, and the second in the Postseason Tournament.

Katz mentioned that the seniors from last season didn’t forget.

“I had the seniors from last year telling me to ‘get those guys,'” Katz said.

Katz said he doesn’t think the team needs a lot of work before heading to Reno on Tuesday. “Offensive rebounding will be a big thing,” Katz said, adding that Sac State’s first round opponent, the Montana State University Bobcats (14-16, 9-9 Big Sky), are a great rebounding team. “They send five [players] to the boards. It’s like a fire drill,” Katz said.

Sac State will play Montana State on Tuesday at 5:35 p.m. at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nev., in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament. The Hornets lost both games against the Bobcats this season (71-64 on Jan. 7, 79-76 on Feb. 6).

Northern Arizona will face the Eastern Washington University Eagles (16-14, 10-8 Big Sky) on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. in the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. The Lumberjacks lost both games to the Eagles by a combined 34 points.

The State Hornet will have full coverage of Sac State’s Big Sky Tournament run, featuring previews, recaps, and reactions from coach Katz.

The entire Big Sky Conference tournament can be streamed for free at and the championship game will be aired on ESPNU on Saturday, March 12 at 5:45 p.m.