Sac State men’s basketball dominates Simpson University 85-65

Hornets overcome brutal first half to secure a win


Jordan Latimore

Sac State’s bench celebrates after a lob dunk by sophomore combo forward Cameron Wilbon on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at the Hornets Nest. The Hornets defeated the Red Hawks after a second half surge.

Jordan Latimore

Sacramento State men’s basketball overcame a sloppy first half to earn a dominant 85-65 home win against Simpson University at the Hornets Nest on Thursday in the team’s one and only exhibition matchup.

The Hornets got off to a rough start on both ends to open the game against the Red Hawks, struggling to find any cohesive rhythm. 

Simpson came out looking to make a name for themselves, pushing the tempo early after multiple Sac State turnovers allowed the Red Hawks to get easy in-transition layups. At the 10-minute mark, the Red Hawks were leading 23-18. 

“We came out and played typically like it was the first game, we were very skittish, very nervous,” said head coach Brian Katz. “We certainly weren’t really happy with the first half, and  Simpson had a lot to do with that, they played very, very well.”

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball coach Brian Katz retires days prior to season opener

Sac State also saw collapses in their defensive set in the half court early with Simpson using aggressive drives to get to the paint for layups and creating free throw opportunities. In the first half alone, Sac State allowed Simpson to score 16 points in the paint.

“I think we came out and we just weren’t  ready, [or] connected defensively,” said senior forward Bryce Fowler. “I think that showed, [Simpson] got a lot of confidence early, and I think that’s why they got so many points.” 

Despite the poor showing from the Hornets early on, they found their stride toward the end of the first half, led by their crafty shooting guard Zach Chappell.

Down the stretch toward the break, Chappell proved to be a major spark for the Hornet offense through his ability to score off the dribble. Finishing with 13 points in the first half, Chappell was able to break down the defense one-on-one and hit tough, spot-up jumpers igniting a 10-5 Sac State run to give the Hornets a 35-30 lead going into halftime.

Going into the second half, the Hornets let the confidence they earned going into the break to keep the momentum going. 

With Chappell continuing his offensive aggression, the game was able to open up for his other teammates including Fowler and senior guard Will FitzPatrick who finished with a combined 36 points.

“Man, we’re really deep,” Chappell said. “We got a lot of guys who can defend, a lot of guys who are versatile. I just love playing with this team.” 

The Hornet offensive aggression allowed Sac State to cruise to a comfortable 85-65 victory that Simpson never was able to re-establish.

“Everybody’s still developing,” Chappell said. “We just got a lot of guys that at any point can go off and make big plays.”

Sac State opens the season officially at home on Tuesday, Nov. 9, against William Jesup at the Hornets Nest at 7 p.m.