Sac State men’s basketball team dominates UC Merced in 72-36 win

Hornets improve to 5-1 following blowout victory over Bobcats


Nijzel Dotson

Sac State sophomore guard Brandon Davis dribbles near midcourt and surveys the floor against UC Merced on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Nest. Davis had five points and four assists in the win.

Michael Wiggins

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team matched its best six-game start in program history after beating UC Merced 72-36 Tuesday night. 

Sac State (5-1) returned home to pick up its third straight victory inside the Nest following a 59-45 loss at No. 21 Colorado on Saturday night. 

“That game was a real confidence builder,” Sac State head basketball coach Brian Katz said of the loss to Colorado. “We feel like we should’ve beat them and we’re upset that we didn’t beat them.” 

The Hornets took the court Tuesday and took their frustrations out on the Bobcats. 

After shooting 28% and making 17 total field goals in the loss to the Buffaloes, the Hornets shot 54% and made 14 field goals in the first half alone against Merced. 

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball team loses 59-45 at No. 21 Colorado

Senior forward Osi Nwachukwu got the Hornets’ offense going early, scoring four of the team’s first eight points to give Sac State an early 8-4 lead five minutes into the game. 

“My coaches talked to me this morning at walkthrough,” Nwachukwu said. “They told me they were going to give me a little more rope in the offense and told me to be more aggressive today.”

The senior scored seven first-half points and finished the game with 12 points and five rebounds. 

From that point on, the Hornets outscored the Bobcats 27 to 13. 

Story continues below gallery.

A 15-0 run pushed Sac State’s lead to 18 with four minutes remaining in the half. The Hornets took a 35-17 lead into halftime. 

Junior guard Bryce Fowler scored eight first-half points and helped facilitate the Sac State offense with four assists. 

The junior continued his solid play in the second half and helped the Hornets extend their lead to a comfortable margin before exiting with a game-high 13 points and five assists. 

“The last game showed us that we have the skillset and team that can play with anybody,” Fowler said. “When we’re playing our best, we can beat anybody in the whole entire country.” 

Sac State began the second half on an 8-3 run, pushing its lead to 43-20 with 16 minutes left in the game. 

UC Merced, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics institution that resides in the California Pacific Conference, was held to 25% shooting for the game and made 13 total field goals. 

The Bobcats turned the ball over 19 times and scored a season-low 36 points against a Sac State team that entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, yielding 52 points per game. 

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

The Hornets shot 52% from the field, made six 3-pointers and scored their third-most points in a game this season in their 72-36 stinging of the Bobcats. 

“As always our defense carried us,” Katz said. “We held them to 36 and feel good about that. We built our team on defense and when we make shots, great, but if we don’t we always have a chance to win if we defend and rebound.” 

Sac State is back on the road for its next game against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at 6 p.m.