The State Hornet

Men’s basketball remains optimistic during 4-game losing streak

Sacramento+State+senior+forward+Justin+Strings%2C+middle%2C+prepares+to+defend+Eastern+Washington+senior+guard+Bogdan+Bliznyuk%2C+left%2C+in+the+second+half+of+a+74-54+loss+Thursday%2C+Feb.+1+at+the+Nest.+Strings+finished+the+game+with+16+points%2C+while+Bliznyuk+posted+a+season-high+40+points+on+15-of-18+shooting+from+the+field.+
Sacramento State senior forward Justin Strings, middle, prepares to defend Eastern Washington senior guard Bogdan Bliznyuk, left, in the second half of a 74-54 loss Thursday, Feb. 1 at the Nest. Strings finished the game with 16 points, while Bliznyuk posted a season-high 40 points on 15-of-18 shooting from the field.

Sacramento State senior forward Justin Strings, middle, prepares to defend Eastern Washington senior guard Bogdan Bliznyuk, left, in the second half of a 74-54 loss Thursday, Feb. 1 at the Nest. Strings finished the game with 16 points, while Bliznyuk posted a season-high 40 points on 15-of-18 shooting from the field.

Thomas Frey - The State Hornet

Thomas Frey - The State Hornet

Sacramento State senior forward Justin Strings, middle, prepares to defend Eastern Washington senior guard Bogdan Bliznyuk, left, in the second half of a 74-54 loss Thursday, Feb. 1 at the Nest. Strings finished the game with 16 points, while Bliznyuk posted a season-high 40 points on 15-of-18 shooting from the field.

Keith Jouganatos

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The last two weeks have been anything but easy for the Sacramento State men’s basketball team.

The Hornets — which fell 71-69 in overtime at Montana four days ago — are on a four-game losing streak with three of those losses being by an average of 19.7 points.

Sac State coach Brian Katz said his team has let certain negative aspects of its game affect other areas on the court in the midst of this losing skid.

“A lot of it was we let things we don’t do well affect the things that we do, do well,” Katz said. “At times, we have trouble scoring, but we let our offensive frustration transfer to defense.”

Coming home from a hard fought 10-point win two Saturdays ago on the road versus Portland State, Sac State (6-19, 3-9 Big Sky Conference) seemingly had all the momentum. Up until that point, the Hornets had been winless in their first eight games away from the Nest.  

Then came a loss against Eastern Washington in which Sac State did not score a single point until the 16:20 mark of the basketball game on Feb. 1. The Hornets followed this 20-point loss with a frustrating game two days later against Idaho in which they shot 42 percent (23-54) from the floor and allowed 32 bench points to the Vandals compared to just three for the Hornets.

Next came a road trip in which the Hornets get blown out 92-76 to Montana State. Sac State committed 23 fouls and saw the Bobcats go a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line.

However, Saturday was an entirely different story as the Hornets played the role of the underdog against a Montana team that was undefeated both at home (10-0) and in league (12-0) play. Holding onto a 61-56 lead, Montana closed out the last 2:55 of regulation on a 5-0 run to send it into overtime. Sac State was then outscored by the narrowest of margins to lose 71-69.

Senior forward Justin Strings, who scored 21 points in the overtime loss against Montana, said the team has taken a step back to reevaluate, see what they’ve done wrong and can improve upon.

“Our goals have not changed at all,” Strings said. “To have a tough week like that it’s good to just come back, settle yourself down and realize what we are playing for here, you know?”

During this stretch, the Hornets have played three of the toughest conference opponents in the Big Sky this year. Montana is 20-5 on the season and is in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, while both Eastern Washington and Idaho sit in the upper echelon of the Big Sky standings as well.

However, if there was any question as to if this losing streak has changed their level of focus, freshman forward Bryce Fowler put that to bed.

“The focus is pretty much the same,” Fowler said.

When asked about their confidence following this losing streak, Fowler remained optimistic and hopeful.

“I am always confident in my guys that I play with the same way I know they share that same confidence in me when we step on that court together,” Fowler said.

Sac State — which is less than one month away from the Big Sky Tournament on March 6 — will look to end its four-game skid as the team comes back home to the Nest on Thursday against Idaho State and Saturday versus Weber State.

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