Sac State men’s basketball Big Sky title hopes end where they began

Hornets trail Weber State wire to wire, lose 70-64


Lucas Monteros

FILE: Sophomore guard Quadry Adams passes to a teammate against Eastern Washington Thursday Feb. 2, 2023, at The Nest in a 82-63 loss. The Hornets were eliminated from the Big Sky tournament after their loss to Weber State Monday in Boise, Idaho.

Dylan McNeill and Jack Freeman

Sacramento State men’s basketball sees their season come to a close, defeated 70-64  by the Weber State Wildcats in the Big Sky quarterfinal match-up in Boise, Idaho on Monday.

After two low scoring regular season losses by a combined 5 points to Weber State, the Hornets looked for revenge in their third meeting with the Wildcats, now with their season on the line.

Weber State was having none of it, starting off with a quick 7-0 run and never looking back. 

Leading the entire game, Weber State didn’t have to play their best basketball, but they made sure to take advantage of untimely Hornets miscues. The Wildcats flipped 15 Hornet turnovers into 20 points.

“Take care of the ball … it’s vital to the game,” Sac State head coach David Patrick said. “We have guys who have never played guard before at that spot, trying to develop those players leads to turnovers.”

The pillars of the Hornets offense come through for Sac State Monday. Senior guard Zach Chappell ran the offense scoring 14 points on 50% shooting, while senior center Callum McRae put up 16 points with 8 rebounds.

“They’ve been the bookends for us, the foundation for the program,” Patrick said of Chappell and McRae. “You saw how they showed up tonight when we hit adversity.”

While the Hornet duo held their ground, the Wildcats had a trio. Sophomore forward Dillon Jones, junior guards Steven Verplancken and KJ Cunningham totaled 50 points for Weber State.

“We didn’t follow the [defensive] game plan to start the game,” Patrick said. “Gotta tip your hat to Cunningham and Verplancken, those guys made tough shots.”

At the half, Weber State already had a hefty 16-point lead. Even though the Hornets outscored Weber State by 10 in the second half,  it was not enough to overcome their deficit.

Patrick said he put emphasis on rebounding at halftime, which paid off for the Hornets as they totaled eight more rebounds than Weber State in the second half.

“In my mind that’s an effort area,” Patrick said on rebounding. “I think that got us back into the game.”

However, Sac State spent the second half at arm’s length away from the lead. After short bursts of scoring the Hornets would fall into turnovers and missed shots, never capitalizing on their opportunities. 

Even with the loss, Patrick reiterated how proud he was of his first team at Sac State. Patrick led the Hornets to its first bye in the Big Sky tournament in program history.

“I’m just thankful to be here, part of this program,” Patrick said. “Hopefully we’re here playing later in this tournament next year.”

At the podium, the two seniors having played their last game in green and gold reflected on their time and the future of the program.

“The program is in a great position. I think they’re going to be incredible these next few years,” Chappell said. “They’ll be a lot better than we were this year and I’m excited to see it.”

McRae echoed the same positive sentiment, in hopes they’ve instilled a winning culture at Sac State.

“I hope we leave them with some knowledge and little things they can learn off us,” McRae said. “I think that’s how college works. The seniors leave something for the players coming up next.”