Sac State men’s basketball suffers brutal 67-62 defeat by Portland State

Hornets drop third straight home conference matchup despite strong gameplay.


Jordan Latimore

Freshman guard Rick Barros III (3) in a triple threat position on the wing against Portland State Saturday, January 15th, 2022 at the Nest. Despite Barros and the Hornets’ strong defense, the Vikings emerged with a 67-62 win, leaving Sacramento State winless against every conference opponent at home this season.

Jordan Latimore, sports editor

It was Hornet Alumni Day in The Nest on Saturday, and the Sacramento State men’s basketball program welcomed its former players to the team’s matchup against Portland State in remembrance of past success.

Though the Hornet’s prior history may have its positive moments, Saturday quickly became a day to forget, as the Hornets were routed at home by the Vikings in a disappointing 67-62 loss; their third consecutive defeat in the home conference.

Coming off their win against Northern Colorado, in which the Hornets (5-7, 1-4 Big Sky) finished with 3 players scoring 18 points or more, Portland State (4-8, 2-3 Big Sky) made sure to make their presence known defensively to open things up.

Portland State started the game with an aggressive and pressured full-court press that disrupted everything Sac State was attempting to do offensively. On top of the Viking defense making it hard for the Hornets to get into their half-court set, they forced several Sac State turnovers throughout the first half.

“We knew they were gonna [press full court],” said senior forward Bryce Fowler. “I just think we let it at times speed us up, it took us out of our rhythm.”

The Hornets would go on to finish with nine turnovers in the first half alone.

Despite the struggles with initially overcoming the Vikings’ defense, Sac State still managed to find some bright spots on offense, with sophomore forward Cameron Wilbon making all the magic happen for the Hornets on that end.

Wilbon was in all of the best spots to make every play he could against a tenacious Portland State defense. Whether it was cutting to the basket for layups and dunks or driving to the rim to make kick-out passes, Wilbon’s decision making in the half-court played a huge role in the Hornets’ play in the middle of the first half, as they were able to grasp a 13-9 lead after a rough start.

For a Sac State team that was missing key rotational players such as junior center Jonathan Komagum and junior guard Deshaun Highler due to COVID protocols, having players such as Wilbon step up was huge for the team.

“I think Cam and Teiano [Hardee] filled a void,” said head coach Brandon Laird. “We’ve talked all week about kind of stepping up and filling the void.”

Unfortunately for Sac State, it simply wasn’t enough for players to step up into higher roles, as Portland State scored nine points off of steals and closed the first half with a 32-27 lead that bled the Vikings’ momentum into the next period.

Sac State did make some runs of their own in the second half, but Portland State’s domination on the defensive end as well as their ability to put pressure on Sac State’s limited big-man rotation allowed them to upset the Hornets in the Nest.

The Vikings finished the game with 38 points in the paint and 16 points off of turnovers.

“I just feel like we came out lackadaisical,” said Wilbon. “Every night in the Big Sky the bottom team can beat the top team. Every night is different, we just came out kind of flat tonight.”