Sac State men’s basketball battles the University of Montana to a double overtime win


Sara Nevis

Sacramento State senior guard Brandon Davis (11) passes the ball around Montana Grizzlies forward Mack Anderson (23) to forward Ethan Esposito (22) to get the assist during the second half during the conference game at the Nest at Sac State Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Davis had three assists and seven points in the game.

Sara Nevis, Multimedia Editor

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team beat University of Montana 89-83 in a double overtime thriller Saturday at the Nest. 

The Hornets lost the first game of the two-game set against Montana Thursday 78-66.

“We really were very disappointed in our guys on Thursday,” said head coach Brian Katz. “Our guys played hard but hard is not good enough. You have to play harder than the other team.”

The Hornets (6-3, 4-2 Big Sky) struggled in the first half getting their offensive momentum going against the Grizzlies (7-8, 3-5 Big Sky), who played an aggressive half. With seven minutes left in the half, the Hornets were shooting 20% from the field while the Grizzlies were shooting 60%. 

The Hornets ended the half increasing to 30% from the field and stepped up on defense reducing the Grizzlies to 42% from the field and entered half time trailing 30-25.

The Hornets came into the second half more aggressive and took more shots. They increased their field goal percentage to 52% and their 3-pointers from 33.3% to 50%. 

Senior guard/forward Bryce Fowler had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. 

Senior forward Ethan Esposito only had two points in the first half but exploded in the second half, ending the game with 26 points and nine rebounds. This was the first time in about four years Esposito had three games of over 20 points, said Ryan Bjork, Sac State Athletics assistant communications director.

“We knew we needed to keep the energy up the whole game,” Esposito said. “We knew we couldn’t let up like we did last time to be consistent, and I think that’s what we did today.”

Story continues below gallery.

With 12 seconds left in the second half the Hornets were down 66-68. Fowler tied the game after he was fouled and made his two free throws. 

Montana had the final shot and in a thrilling sequence, Grizzlies junior guard Cameron Parker missed a jump shot and then got his own rebound but missed a layup for the win and the game went to overtime. 

“I was really proud of our guys that we hung tough, stayed the course and didn’t give in,” Katz said. “We were gritty. We were grimy. Shoot, we were down three with 40 seconds to go, I mean we didn’t quit on ourselves.”

During the first overtime both teams had the same stats–four field goals, one 3-pointer, one free throw and four rebounds. It was a back and forth battle of who wanted it more and after five minutes the game went into double overtime with the score tied at 78-78. 

During double overtime the Hornets came out and dominated, outscoring the Grizzlies 11-5 for the win. Montana had four fouls and the Hornets made 7-8 free throws. Fowler and Esposito made their presence felt on the boards and the team had 10 rebounds during double overtime compared to Montana’s two.

“I was proud of our guys for fighting and coming back,” Fowler via direct message. “Being down three with 40 seconds left in regulation is hard to come back from. We didn’t quit and just kept fighting. It showed a lot about who we are as a team as most teams would just give up and think the game is over in that situation.”