Sac State men’s basketball team remains perfect with 61-51 victory over UC Davis

Patton’s 25 points and Esposito’s double-double leads Hornets to win at Golden 1 Center


Shaun Holkko

Sac State senior center Joshua Patton looks to make a pass against UC Davis senior center Matt Neufeld on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Golden 1 Center. The Hornets defeated the Aggies 61-51 to move to 3-0 on the season.

Michael Wiggins

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team remains undefeated after beating bitter rival the University of California, Davis 61-51 Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center.

For the fourth straight year, Sac State (3-0) and UC Davis (2-4) matched up for a neutral site game at the home of the Sacramento Kings in downtown Sacramento. UC Davis won the first two matchups while the Hornets won last year, 58-55.

“It’s a thrill for our guys, the whole atmosphere is different,” Sac State head coach Brian Katz said about playing at the Golden 1 Center. “The guys are looking at the locker rooms saying ‘oh my goodness.’ It’s really a good thing for the community and both programs and I hope the Golden 1 Center continues to have us.”

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After UC Davis scored the game’s first two points, Sac State responded with a 7-0 run. 

Senior center Joshua Patton paced the Hornets in the first half, scoring the team’s first six points and seven of their first eight. 

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball defeats UC Davis 58-55

Patton led all scorers with 11 points before exiting the game midway through the first half after picking up two fouls.

Junior forward Ethan Esposito continued where Patton left off and picked up the slack for Sac State. 

“Ethan went out there and he was playing his butt off,” Patton said. “He was scoring in the paint, he hit a couple jump shots and got some offensive rebounds. I was frustrated going out (of) the game but I know my teammates have my back.” 

Esposito scored 10 first-half points, including four straight after Patton’s departure to push the Hornets’ lead to 23-14 with 5:18 remaining in the first half. 

Sac State’s defensive pressure limited UC Davis to 25% shooting from the field in the first half. The Aggies made just six shots and scored 13 of their 23 first-half points from the free throw line. 

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“Right now, we’re defending at an elite level,” Katz said. “I tell our guys if we can maintain that, we can be a very, very good team. Our defense is the reason we are 3-0 right now.” 

The Hornets shot 42% from the field in the first half and scored 18 points in the paint to take a 29-23 halftime lead. 

Patton made his return and picked up where he left off by scoring the first points of the second half and leading the Hornets on a quick 6-2 run to push the lead to 10 points with 16:29 left in the game. 

The Hornets led by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Aggies responded with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 45-39 with 9:07 left to play. 

After a timeout from Sac State, the Hornets responded with a 6-0 run of their own to extend the lead back to 12. 

Katz instructed his guys to get back to playing their style of basketball during the timeout. 

“We said just stick to our core values and be solid, nothing fancy,” Katz said. “And then we drew up a nice special (play) out of the timeout and Joshua was able to get a dunk.”

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Sac State never allowed UC Davis to get within 10 points for the rest of the game. 

Patton finished with a game-high 25 points. The senior made all nine of his free-throw attempts and was 8-10 from the field overall. 

RELATED: Sac State’s high-flying center stays grounded with long walks

Esposito finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. 

The Hornets forced 15 turnovers, held UC Davis to just 38% shooting and did not allow the Aggies to make a 3-point shot in the 61-51 victory.

“Their defense is really aggressive,” UC Davis head coach Jim Les said after the game. “They made our guys, especially our young guys, uncomfortable with their pressure. I thought we had good opportunities but they sped us up with that pressure.” 

The Hornets return to action on Saturday when they travel to play Pepperdine University at 7:05 p.m.