Sac State men’s basketball loses overtime thriller against Idaho State

Hornets drop their first road conference game of the season in tight matchup


Sara Nevis

Sacramento State’s Bryce Fowler (23) draws the foul shooting over Idaho’s Chance Garvin (12) and Tanner Christensen (32) and goes on to make both free throws 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. The Hornets lost in overtime to the Idaho State Bengals Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 57-56 after Fowler missed a deep last second fall away jumper at the buzzer.

Jordan Latimore

In a gritty, back-and-forth conference matchup, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team lost to the Idaho State Vandals 57-56 in an overtime thriller.

The Hornets (4-2, 2-1 Big Sky) looked to clinch their first road conference win in the first of their two game series against the Bengals (7-5, 4-1 Big Sky). 

Idaho State came out the gate red hot from three, sinking back-to-back 3-pointers which ignited an early 8-2 run for the Bengals. 

The run was eventually suppressed by the Hornets with consecutive defensive stops and efficient 3-point shooting from senior guard William FitzPatrick and sophomore guard Elijah McCullough. They both combined for three 3-point makes that cut the Bengal lead to three at the 10:15 mark in the first half.

Despite shooting well from three in the first half, the Hornets had trouble stopping the Bengals’ effective guard play, allowing Idaho State’s three starting guards to finish with a combined 21 points in the first half. 

The second half saw a far more defensively composed Hornet team. They moved to a 3-2 zone concept that forced several Idaho State turnovers. 

The Hornets’ ability to disrupt the Bengals defensively sparked an offensive downpour from one of Sac State’s go-to scorers, senior forward Bryce Fowler. Fowler opened the second half with an 8-0 run fueled by perimeter play-making and jump shots that brought the Hornets to a 31-30 lead at the 15:10 mark in the second half.

Idaho State and Sac State proceeded to trade buckets on almost every possession for the remainder of the half. The Hornets were able to contain the Bengals from three and in the half-court, forcing them to go 0-8 from three and 38% from the field in the second half. However, Sac State had trouble stopping Idaho State in transition off of missed shots.

The game was tied at 49 and headed into an overtime that showcased tough shot-making and defensive energy.

Sac State found itself struggling to make shots down the stretch in overtime, going 3-9 in the period, but stayed in the game by forcing two critical Bengal turnovers. 

Down 51-55, Fowler drove down the lane and hit a turn-around jumper to cut the lead to two. The Hornets proceeded to force a turnover off of the inbound pass from the Bengals allowing senior forward Ethan Esposito to hit a layup as he was fouled to tie the game at 54 with an opportunity to take the lead on the ensuing free throw. 

With just 10 seconds left, Espotio converted the free throw, but on the following defensive possession, the Hornets fouled Bengal guard Robert Ford III with only four seconds left on the clock. Ford converted both free throws to give them a one-point lead.

With no time-outs, Bryce Fowler rushed to bring up the ball just four seconds left, and missed a fall-away three point shot at the buzzer.

The Hornets will play the Vandals again Monday at 12 p.m. PST in the second of their two-game series.