Sac State men’s basketball team survives against Cal Poly

Hornets pull out one-point victory in battle with Mustangs


Shaun Holkko

Sac State senior center Joshua Patton prepares to shoot a free throw against Cal Poly on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at the Nest. The Hornets defeated the Mustangs 57-56.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team was able to survive a late run from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to escape with a 57-56 victory over the Mustangs at the Nest Tuesday night.

The Hornets (7-2) returned home to the Nest for the first time in over two weeks following a two-game road trip for their final preseason game of the season. Sac State was victorious on Dec. 7 at Cal State Fullerton 62-59 and lost at Santa Clara one week later 60-58.

The Mustangs (2-9) came into the contest with a poor record, but Sac State head coach Brian Katz noted postgame that Cal Poly has had a tough preseason schedule to open the season.

“I think they’re good,” Katz said. “They played a really hard schedule, way harder than us. We knew we were going to get their A-game and it was going to be tough. They have a good, young talented team.”

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball team loses at Santa Clara 60-58

Cal Poly started the game in control, leading the Hornets in the early moments. Six minutes into the game, the Mustangs led 14-10. From that point on, Sac State went on a 16-4 run to gain an eight-point advantage.

The Hornets controlled the remainder of the first half and took a 37-32 lead into halftime.

Sac State carried its momentum into the second half, stretching their lead to 12 just three minutes into the second half.

The Hornets led 51-42 with nine minutes remaining and appeared to be cruising to their seventh victory. However, the Mustangs had other plans.

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Cal Poly went on a 10-0 run over four minutes to take a one-point lead over Sac State. The two teams then battled back-and-forth until the closing moments.

“We got a lot of older guys and I think that helps with the times that we come against adversity,” said senior center Joshua Patton. “Everybody knows that basketball is a game of runs. When they went on that run and they took the lead, we knew exactly what we had to do.

“We just had to start playing better defense. The scoring will come. We’re just a really mature group. So that really helped in that process.”

With eight seconds remaining, the Mustangs led 56-55. Katz called a timeout for Sac State and drew up the game-winning play.

Sophomore guard Brandon Davis caught the inbound pass, raced down the floor and drove down the lane for the game-winning layup. Davis missed but senior forward Osi Nwachukwu was there to clean up the miss as he grabbed the offensive rebound before being fouled.

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball team secures 62-59 win at Cal State Fullerton

With one second remaining, Nwachukwu knocked down consecutive free throws to give his team a one-point advantage. Cal Poly attempted a game-winning shot on the other end of the court to no avail.

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“Brandon was coming down, I saw the lane open so I was just going to try and clear it out for the layup,” Nwachukwu said of the last play. “When it came off, my eyes just targeted the ball. I knew we had a second, so I knew I would still have time to get another shot off.”

The Hornets defeated the Mustangs 57-56 to earn their seventh victory of the season.

“What I really liked is we just found a way to win,” Katz said. “If you’re an immature team (and) inexperienced, maybe you fold up, but we did not.”

Patton led his team to the victory and had three team-highs. The captain scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots in the win. Patton was followed by sophomore forward James Bridges who scored 12 points on 4-6 from three while adding four rebounds.

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Cal Poly was led by two underclassmen. Freshman forward Kyle Colvin had game-highs of 20 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Junior Ballard, a Stockton native, scored 18 points and had three rebounds in the loss.

Sac State now has ten days off until their next game. The Hornets will open Big Sky Conference play on the road at Montana State on Dec. 28 followed by playing at the University of Montana on Dec. 30.

“It’s the hardest road trip of the year,” Katz said. “It’s good to get it out of the way and let’s go see what we can do.”

The Hornets tipoff against the Bobcats on Saturday, Dec. 28 at 3:05 p.m.