Sac State men’s basketball defeats the Idaho Vandals in second game of the season

Hornets secure their first win in the Big Sky for 2020-2021 season


Sara Nevis

Sacramento State’s Christian Terrell (35) drives to the basket with 10 seconds left on the shot clock and dunks the ball over Idaho’s Tanner Christensen (32) during the second half in the conference opener in the game against the University of Idaho at The Nest at Sac State Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Terrell had 15 points in the game. Sac State won 77-55.

Jordan Latimore

Sacramento State men’s basketball opened up its first Big Sky Conference action of the season with a commanding victory over the University of Idaho.

Despite the game starting an hour after its scheduled tipoff due to a delay in COVID-19 results, Sac State asserted their dominance in their first Big Sky game of the season.

In an initially tight matchup that saw seven lead changes, the Hornets saw a competitive outing against the Vandals in the first half that was met with trade offs in scoring from both teams. The Hornets split their two matchups with the Vandals last season. 

Fueled by two of their seniors, forward Bryce Fowler and guard Christian Terrell, Sac State opened up the game with a 6-3 run that extended into a lead that was maintained throughout the duration of the half. 

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Fowler and Terrell finished the first half with a combined 19 points on 50% shooting, carrying most of the Hornets’ first half scoring load. 

A lead that at one point was a 10-point margin was quickly cut off by the Vandals, who closed the first half on an 8-0 run to take a one-point lead going into halftime. A lack of defensive rebounding from the Hornets allowed the Vandals to blaze a trail with 11 second points off of eight offensive rebounds, that ultimately cost the Hornets a lead going into the locker-room.

“That was more on us than them playing well,” senior guard Christian Terrell said in response to how the first-half concluded. “A lot of quick shots, quick turnover, and we weren’t really defending well.”

After a disappointing close to the first half, Sac State responded in the second half with a defensive showing that was met with bench contributions that sealed their victory.

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Right out of the gate, the Hornets tapped into their defensive prowess by getting in the passing lanes, forcing 17 second-half turnovers for the Vandals that were capped by 17 points off those  turnovers.

“We’re resilient,” head coach Brian Katz said. “With the way we ended the half, giving them momentum, that’s not good, but we bounced back from that.”

Katz said he credits his team to just playing their game and not letting the Vandals take them out of their rhythm on offense.

“There’s no five point plays,” Katz said. “I told my guys, ‘just get a stop and get a good shot.’”

Senior forward Ethan Esposito, who finished the first half with just four points and two boards, came alive in the second half with a physically imposing performance that finished his night off with a total of 16 points and six rebounds. Whether it was in pick and roll or catches underneath the rim, Esposito made his presence known against the Vandals.

The Hornets are set to play the Vandals again Saturday at 10:30 a.m. to cap off the second conference matchup for the two teams.