Sac State men’s basketball bounces back in gutsy 80-75 win over Idaho State

Hornets snap six-game losing streak


Courtesy of Idaho State Athletics

Senior Sac State guard William FitzPatrick playing on the perimeter against Idaho State Saturday, Feb.19, 2022, in Holt Arena. FitzPatrick finished with 21 points in the Hornets thrilling road win against the Bengals.

Jordan Latimore

Coming into Pocatello, Idaho off a six-game losing streak to play the Idaho State Bengals, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team had a chance to combat a Bengal squad that they beat in close fashion in their previous game.

Fortunately for the Hornets, history repeated itself, as Sac State was able to edge out a thrilling 80-75 win over the Bengals in Holt Arena Saturday.

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball team squeezes out 61-60 win over Idaho State

Despite a relatively hot start for both of these teams on offense, the Hornets (7-16, 3-13 Big Sky) played most of this game from behind against the Bengals (6-19, 4-12 Big Sky).

To open things up, Idaho State went at Sac State where the mismatches most presented in themselves – in the paint.

The Bengals started the game off with aggressive and persistent drives to the rim and ran multiple sets for the bigs in the low post, putting a ton of pressure on Sac States rim protectors such as sophomore and freshman centers Jonathan Komogum and Hugo Clarkin. 

On the contrary, the Hornets were able to find their offensive success on the perimeter, with seniors Bryce Fowler and William FitzPatrick matching the offensive Bengal interior firepower by knocking down shots with space on several possessions, extinguishing the small Bengal runs. 

Near the 14-minute mark in the first half, Fowler was able to knock down a triple from the wing to cut the Idaho State lead to three with a score of 13-10.

Though the Hornets were continuing to see Idaho State take advantage of their ability to dominate at the rim, multiple Hornets’, most notably, freshman wing Rick Barros’ ability to use his defensive versatility on the perimeter and on the block during switches paved the way for Sac State to get the desperate stops they needed to have a chance.

“Our guys did a great job neutralizing them in the post, I thought it really changed the momentum,”  interim head coach Bradon Laird said.

“Rick, he was a plus 14, his ability to not let the ball into the post or when it went in there to defend the ball on the post.”

However, the story of the closing portion of the first half for the Hornets starts and ends with FitzPatrick. The senior sharpshooter finished with 11 first-half points and three three-pointers and seemed to make key shots to deflate the Bengal after huge offensive plays from Idaho State.

“This is the way we have been looking to play the entire season, and it finally clicked tonight,” FitzPatrick said. “We have so many pieces on this team and putting them together in the right way is going to get us the results like we did tonight.”

Sac State went into halftime trailing 37-33 with a ton of optimism, given that they were only down four despite the Bengals shooting over 40% from the field and dominating the rebounding battle 21-12.

The second half didn’t waste any time getting out to a speedy and up-tempo pace, as both teams got up and down to make several runs.

For Idaho State, they kept pounding the paint and made things and were relentless with their assertiveness to score in the interior of the Sac State defense.

The Hornets were still able to keep this game close, but it was clear they needed an answer to get them over the hump – and that answer arrived.

Bryce. Fowler.

For Sac State, who else would it be?

Fowler went on a tear in the final 13-minute stretch in the second half, torching the Bengals with his ability to hit tough shots from outside, drives to the basket, and of course, his routine turn-around  one-legged 16-foot jumper.

“It’s just about all of us playing our best at the same time,” Fowler said. “That’s what we are working towards and if we can get that, we’ll have a really good chance.”

Fowler finished the game with 29 points and made a key fast-break layup near the nine-minute mark to cut the Bengal lead to two at 54-52. Then, on the following possession after a Sac State stop on defense, FitzPatrick swished a triple from the wing to give the Hornets their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.

From this point onward, it was a back-and-forth battle between these teams that saw multiple lead changes, with big shot after big shot.

Inside the final three minutes is where everything was decided.

Up one at 64-63, Sac State had the ball with a chance to possibly distance themselves with a two-possession lead.

Off a kick-out pass to left-wing, junior guard Zach Chappell launched a deep momentum-changing three.


Chappell knocked it down as the Hornets went up 67-63 with under three minutes remaining.

With time on their side and the end of a 6-game losing streak in sight, all the Hornets needed to do was drain the clock and let ISU play the foul game. After converting on some late layups and free throws, that’s exactly what was able to transpire for Sac State, as the Hornets were able to edge out the win in Holt Arena.

“We want to be playing our best basketball these last couple weeks going into Boise (Big Sky Tournament), we believe in each other,” Laird said.  “We’re excited to bring this momentum back into the nest.”

The Hornets’ next game will be played at home in The Nest against the Idaho Vandals at 7 p.m.