Sac State men’s basketball bounces back with 65-55 win against UC San Diego

Hornets seal first win in David Patrick era


Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics

Senior guard Zach Chappell handling the ball against UCLA Monday, Nov. 8, 2022, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. After a brutal start to the season, the Sac State men’s basketball team is back on track after a dominant 65-55 win over UC San Diego in La Jolla Saturday.

Jordan Latimore

After what went down in Pauley Pavilion Monday for the Hornet men’s hoops squad, the real test for the Hornets was against a fellow mid-major in the Tritons: safe to say, they passed this one.

After a brutal start to the season, the Sac State men’s basketball team is back on track after a dominant 65-55 win over the UC San Diego Tritons in La Jolla, California Saturday.

The Hornets leaned on nothing but one thing: getting buckets.

Whether it was from the three-point spot, inside or from the line, Sac State made their impact offensively early and often. 

The Hornets didn’t miss a beat from the jump with senior guard Zach Chappell and junior guard Austin Patterson knocking down early three-pointers to help the Hornets get out to an early 8-2 lead. 

Despite the early offensive success for the Hornets, UC San Diego responded fast, igniting a run off of consecutive forced turnovers. Off an 8-0 run of their own, the Tritons took a 10-8 lead about four minutes into the start of the  first half. 

Though an eventful run, it was the last meaningful one for the Tritons, a defensive onslaught from Sac State turned everything around.

The Tritons, who came into the season shooting close to 40% on threes as a team, didn’t make a single one in the first half, going 0-5 from deep.

“We came into the game knowing that they are a deadly team when making threes so we put a heavy emphasis on forcing them to drive and shoot tough contested twos,” junior forward Cam Wilbon said. “We had a great scout and knew exactly who the shooters were so we ran them off the line as best as possible.”

The Hornets’ offense also found an unforgettable surge midway through the first half.

The three-balls started pouring in for the Hornets, with multiple players finding great looks from downtown. Junior guard Gianni Hunt, senior forward Hunter Marks, and Patterson cashed in from deep on a fiery clip.

The Hornets scored 8-17 from three points in the first half.

“When we just run our offense and share the ball we get good looks,” senior guard Zach Chappell said. “Today those good looks were falling and the shot-making spread like wildfire.” 

The Hornets continued their offensive success in the second half and didn’t take their foot off the pedal, leaving no room for UC San Diego to have any impact. 

Chappell led the way for Sac State and finished with a team-high of 19 points. He shot 5-6 from downtown and only took nine shots, proving how high-quality of looks he was able to get within the Hornets’ half-court offense. 

“[It’s] really fun to play with these guys, man,” Chappell said.

Patrick said that Chappell should step up to this challenge every night as an offensive catalyst for this team.

“I’m pumped for him, but I also expect it from him,” Patrick said. “He’s a fifth-year senior, he’s bought in, he knows everything I’m asking him to do and he picks his spots.”

Though it’s just one win, it means so much more to the school and the team. It’s the first step for a newly revamped roster and a freshly assembled program that is trying to build something new in Sacramento.

“We have enough data now to say who the shooters are, who the rebounders are, who the cutters are,” Patrick said. “The ones that can deliver are the ones that didn’t get put in those situations.”