Sac State men’s basketball suffers embarrassing at-home defeat by Southern Utah

Hornets give up 13 threes in 83-57 loss to Thunderbirds


Dylan McNeill

The Hornets’ bench players look on as Sac State is trounced 83-57 in a home defeat at the hands of Southern Utah in The Nest Feb. 12, 2022. Sac State has struggled immensely as of late, going 1-9 in their last 10 games.

Jordan Latimore

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team is at its wit’s end.

The Hornets followed up an embarrassing loss at home with – yet another, as Sac State suffered an 83-57 loss to Southern Utah in The Nest Saturday, with many of the same issues showing up once again.

“I did not see an improvement in that area,” Laird said about the team’s overall level of effort compared to the team’s last outing against Northern Colorado.

RELATED: Sacramento State men’s basketball crushed at home by Northern Colorado 79-61

This matchup opened up as poorly as it could for the Hornets (6-15, 2-12 Big Sky), as the Thunderbirds (15-7, 9-3 Big Sky) came out scorching, erupting on a 10-0 run within the first three minutes.

Interim head coach Brandon Laird, who mentioned that he was going to look into experimenting with lineups after the team’s last game against Northern Colorado, stayed true to his word after Sac State’s extremely flat start. 

The Hornets threw out combinations of players who have seen much burn all season, including sophomore guard Xavier Ford and freshman guard Chris Holley, riding with typical starters such as junior guard Zach Chappell and senior guard William FitzPatrick on the bench in stretches.

Despite the ambitious changes in the rotations, the Hornets still found minimal success early in the half, as the Thunderbirds would go on to put on an absolute clinic on both ends.  

Defensively, Sac State seemed to have no life. 

Just under the 10-minute mark of the first half, Southern Utah was leading 21-7 with senior Southern Utah forward Maizen Fausett leading the way for the Thunderbirds with his own 11 points.

“I don’t even think we’re coming in with the intent of playing hard,” Sac State senior forward Bryce Fowler said. “I just think we’re kind of out of it.”

Sacramento State men’s basketball interim head coach Brandon Laird speaks to his assistant coaches Sam Kirby (right) and Nate Smith (middle) in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss at home in The Nest versus Southern Utah University Feb.12, 2022. The Hornets lost 83-57 Saturday as they’ve now dropped five in a row.
(Dylan McNeill)

Though Sac State was eventually able to make a small 13-8 run in the ladder part of the half that was filled by getting opportunities off drives to the rim.

However, this was all diminished by one of the worst sequences the Hornets have been a part of all year. After bringing the score to as close as eight near the five-minute mark, Southern Utah went on to close the half on a 13-2 run that was met with nothing but sheer dominance.

Going into the locker room, down 21, Sac State looked utterly deflated.

Guys were hanging their heads, face palming, and sighing breaths of frustration as their team looked to be headed to its fifth straight loss.

The Hornets continued to struggle with getting stops in the second half, particularly at the three-point line. Southern Utah finished the game 13 made threes on a 46% clip.

“Credit to them [Southern Utah], they shot really well today,” Laird said. “They did a good job, moving the ball to play with all of the confidence, we certainly did not do a great job executing the game plan in that regard.”

The closest the game got for Sac State was in the second half with a 16 point margin.

“[We’re] not happy, should have done better,” freshman guard Rick Barros III said. “Just looking towards the next set of games, just trying to figure out how to pull this thing together and get a win.”

With this loss, Sac State not only recorded their fifth straight loss, but officially cemented their spot as the last-place team in the Big Sky.

“I don’t know why we would think that we could expect to just show up and compete with teams [playing like this], especially these top tier teams,” Fowler said. “We just gotta show up and want it more.”

For the Hornets’ next game, they will travel to Ogden, Utah Thursday, Feb. 17, to play Weber State in Dee Events Center. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m  The matchup will be streamed on ESPN+.