Sac State men’s basketball edges out Long Beach State 76-74

Chappell’s clutch game-winner seals Hornets’ second straight win


Dylan McNeill

Senior guard Zach Chappell getting up the court against Long Beach State Saturday, Dec.10, 2022, in The Nest. Chappell’s 25 points and game-winning layup sealed a 76-74 win for the Hornets.

Jordan Latimore, Sports Editor

Zach Chappell is just living his dream. 

The senior guard for Sac State men’s basketball keeps coming through for his team and city every chance he gets. That didn’t change Saturday in The Nest against Long Beach State.

Coming off a thrilling overtime win against Denver on Wednesday, the thought of the Hornets pulling off another crunch time game seemed challenging, but behind a game-winning bucket from their leading scorer in Chappell to give Sac State a massive 76-74 win, the Hornets just found a way to get it done — again.


“Man, I’m just speechless, I just love my team, love my coaches, love this city,” Chappell said. “It’s just a surreal moment.”

To open this one, Long Beach wasted no time going right into their full-court press, trapping the ball-handler every time a Sac State ball passed half-court. This defensive pressure presented early challenges for the Hornets offensively, as they turned the ball over six times within the first four minutes of the game.

Long Beach took those forced turnover opportunities and ran with them, getting to a 9-6 lead near the 13-minute mark.

“We should have came out more focused,” sophomore guard Austin Patterson said. “After [the first media timeout], we just locked in.”

Despite the madness that Long Beach’s defense caused at the start of this matchup, Sac State weathered the storm without making anything too complicated. By finding the holes in the press to make the extra pass to open players, Sac State found a way to keep up with the press just in time as their offense picked itself up. 

Leading the way for the Hornets was none other than the walking bucket himself — Chappell.

The three-ball was working for Chappell right out of the gates, and the rest of the scoring found itself shortly after. Behind Chappell’s 15 first-half points on over 65% shooting, the Hornets were able to go on a seismic 12-5 run near the middle of the first half, taking a commanding 17-11 lead.

Once it started drizzling, it began pouring threes for the Hornets. Whether it was sophomore guard Austin Patterson or senior forward Hunter Marks, both played for a combined 12 points on four three-point makes for Sac State in the first half.

“It takes time to get these things right, we’re confident now we’re shooting,” Patterson said. “We’re confident and I think we should just keep rolling.”

Junior forward Akol Mawein facing up against a Long Beach State defender Saturday, Dec.10, 2022, in The Nest. The Hornets were able to edge out Long Beach 76-74 to earn their second-straight win.
(Dylan McNeill)

The Hornets leaned on their shooting to carry them to an extensive lead toward the end of the first half. Once the press had been figured out and the offense began clicking, everything seemed easy for Sac State. The Hornets lead 37-30 going into the halftime break.

Sac State had this matchup in control for most of the second half. The Hornets relied on Chappell’s scoring to an even higher extent in the second set of 20 minutes.

Long Beach State simply had no answer for Chappell — none at all. Chappell was cooking in every facet, as he has typically done this season. In the half court, in transition or from three, it didn’t matter. Chappell got himself a bucket in every way.

“He’s been a great leader, someone I really look up to,” Patterson said of Chappell. “It’s great to have him as a team and I think we can go far with him and everyone else.”

Up 68-59 with close to four minutes left, it seemed like the Hornets were on their way to a cruising victory over Long Beach, but everything changed. Long Beach hung their hat on defensive pressure in this matchup and that remained in place down the stretch, even when they were down by nine points late.

Back in the press, Long Beach forced Sac State into either ball turnover or rushed shots at the rim, leading guys like senior guard Joel Murray of Long Beach to get easy drives to the rim. Murray finished with a team-high of 24 points. 

“You’re gonna be up by 10 against Long Beach or down by 10,and they’re always in the game,” head coach David Patrick said.  “I credit those guys to keep fighting; we’ve got lots to work on when another team gets 30 more possessions than [we] get.”

In the blink of an eye, Long Beach cut the lead to two points at a score of 72-70 with 27 seconds left on the clock. Sac State and Long Beach then traded a couple of late clutch buckets. Then off a missed free throw from junior forward Cameron Wilbon,  Murray got the ball in transition and got to the rim easily, tying the game at 74-74 with seven seconds remaining. 

Sac State ball with a tie game and just seconds remaining — with the game on the line, the Hornets go to their number one option.Zach. Chappell.

Chappell got the pass off the unbound and raced down the court as time expired.\With every ounce of energy he had left, Chappell dove to the rim for a layup and scored with just five-tenths of a second remaining, sealing the win for Sac State.

“These are the type of wins that happen in March,” Chappell said. “These are the type of grind outs, the fights. We continuously just keep trusting our coaches and scouting reports and everything and just believing in each other.”

With the win, the Hornets get back to the .500 mark, but Patrick believes there is still a ton of room for improvement.

“It’s hard to win those games … you turn over 19 times and give up 11 offensive rebounds, which is not our recipe for winning,” Patrick said. “It’s good to come away with a victory, but [we] also [got] some film [the team can use to] learn.”