Sac State men’s basketball defeats Idaho Vandals 73-57 in morning showdown

Hornets move to 2-0 in conference play and remain undefeated

Sacramento+State%27s+junior+guard+Deshaun+Highler+%2812%29+makes+an+under+the+basket+scoop+lay+up+during+the+second+half+in+the+game+against+the+University+of+Idaho+at+The+Nest+at+Sac+State+Saturday%2C+Dec.+5%2C+2020.+Highler+had+10+points+in+the+game.+Sac+State+won+73-57.

Garry Singh

Sacramento State’s junior guard Deshaun Highler (12) makes an under the basket scoop lay up during the second half in the game against the University of Idaho at The Nest at Sac State Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Highler had 10 points in the game. Sac State won 73-57.

Jordan Latimore

Sacramento State men’s basketball secured a dominant win against the University of Idaho, moving to 2-0 in the Big Sky and remaining undefeated through their first three games.

The Hornets’ (3-0, 2-0 Big Sky) defensive showing led to a commanding 73-57 victory over the Vandals (0-2, 0-2 Big Sky).

Idaho opened the game with a 6-0 run fueled by Hornet turnovers, leading to easy, in-transition layups for the Vandals.

“We didn’t come out with the energy we wanted to, which was an emphasis for us because it was an early game,” said senior forward Bryce Fowler about the slow start. “I was definitely gassed, I didn’t expect it to hit me that fast.” 

After an early timeout by Sac State head coach Brian Katz, the Hornets responded with their own 7-0 run that was driven by multiple defensive stops and forced turnovers.

“Defense is our biggest emphasis,”  said senior guard William FitzPatrick. “We came out a little bit flat today, but as long as we’re playing hard (on defense), it’s gonna fix any mistakes we make.”  

Sac State’s defensive outing in the first half played a major role in offensive performance as well, scoring 12 points off of forced Vandal turnovers.

“You just have to be committed to it,” Katz said. “Last year’s group set the standard defensively when we were ranked fifth in the country, and we’re always able to reference that with this year’s group. It’s become our signature.”

In addition to scoring off turnovers, the Hornets also saw a big offensive outing in the first half from senior forward Bryce Fowler who had 11 points through the first 20 minutes.

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The second half was a major offensive display for the Hornets, including 14 points from their bench that extended their lead to a margin that was never challenged by the Vandals.

The team shot 45% from the field with five players finishing with double-figures. Senior guard FitzPatrick hit three 3-pointers finishing the game with 13 points.

“I would say the 3-pointer is definitely my specialty and definitely what I work hard on,” FitzPatrick said. “If I can get some good looks and relieve some pressure for us to go inside a lot, it’s gonna help us out a lot.”

Getting out to a 2-0 start in the Big Sky, Sac State players said the momentum they have built will help contribute the way they carry themselves on the court.

“To start off 2-0 in the league, [it’s] Huge.” Katz said. “Starting well is always good for your players’ confidence, and I think we got a lot of confidence.”

The Hornets also said they felt a sense of relief to sweep the conference series against the Vandals.

“It’s such a tough league to go through,” FitzPatrick said. “To start with two wins and take care of Idaho right off the bat is huge for us.”

Sac State will play next Saturday against Santa Clara in Santa Cruz California at a time that has yet to be determined.