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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State struggles on two-game road trip, extends losing streak to eight

Hornets tussle with Idaho State and Weber State, but falter due to turnovers
Alan Cheeseman / Sacramento State Athletics
Junior forward Zee Hamoda drives right on two Bengal defenders. Hamoda finished the game with five points, two rebounds, and two assists Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.

Three days removed from a tough home loss to Idaho, the Sacramento State men’s basketball team fell flat on their face to Idaho State. In the Hornets’ next outing against Weber State, they kept it close but couldn’t overcome their continued indefensible mistakes.


Thursday: Sac State: 40, Idaho State: 68

The Bengals beat the Hornets in dominating fashion on Thursday 68-40.

The Hornets led once in this outing when the score was 2-0, they also posted season lows in points and field goal percentage.

Once again, Sac State put themselves in a bind early on. After scoring the first field goal of the game, they allowed the Bengals to go on a 14-2 run. The Hornets struggled with turnovers during that stretch, giving the ball away seven times in a night where they ended with 13. The Bengals totaled 19 points off those mishaps, compared to the Hornets’ two.

The trouble with turnovers in this game wasn’t as much of a surprise compared to past ones. The Bengals have been stellar defensively for a lot of the year, being near the top of the Big Sky rankings in multiple defensive categories. Idaho State ended the game with five blocks and five steals.

This rough two-game stretch has been a bit of a head-scratcher. The Hornets have had their fair share of losses up until this point, but they usually gave their opponents all they could handle, particularly in conference play. That hasn’t been the case as of late.

When talking about this Hornets team, we have to put things into perspective. The effects of having such a young and inexperienced team seem to be setting in.

This year, 10 of the 14 players on the Hornets roster are newcomers, with five of those 10 being true freshmen. The Hornets are the only team in the Big Sky Conference that allows multiple freshmen to crack the rotation on a nightly basis. This is almost always a tough feat to overcome, especially in conferences like the Big Sky where play time is dominated by upperclassmen.

“You can’t expect these young guys to carry the weight, but I think we’ve been a little bit inconsistent by the production of our older guys who have had experience in college,” Sac State head coach David Patrick said.

The inconsistent play carried into Thursday’s game as not a single Hornet was able to eclipse double-digit scoring for the second game in a row. The Hornets’ upperclassmen shot a combined 26% from the field.

At halftime, the Bengals boasted a 33-16 lead, which was just a taste of what was to come later on.

Idaho State would eventually blow open a 30-point lead and never give Sac State a chance to climb back into it as they had a counter for every punch the Hornets threw. The Bengals ended the game shooting an impressive 54% from the field and 42% from three.

While these losses may sting, this is far from the end of the road for Sac State. Even though the Big Sky Conference Tournament is starting to loom, they have enough time to work out some of their issues.

The Hornets are still a great rebounding team, the best in the Big Sky. Their rebounding margin on the year is 7.5, which is good for first in the conference and over double the second-closest team in that category. They pull down offensive rebounds at an impressive rate, first in the conference at 12 per game If they can start using that to their advantage by converting on second-chance opportunities, it would work wonders.

Whether they’re able to capitalize on their rebounding or not, all Patrick can hope for at this point, is for his young guys to grow up fast and his veterans to start playing like veterans. Then, the Hornets might have a good chance to make a run in the latter part of the season.

RELATED: Sac State drops two more games to extend its losing streak to six

Saturday: Sac State: 53, Weber State: 58

Sac State dropped another conference road matchup on Saturday to Weber State, in a game they never led. Although there are still lots of things to clean up for the Hornets, this is seen as a step in the right direction.

Coming into this one, Sac State knew they’d have to limit Weber State’s Big Sky preseason MVP junior forward Dillon Jones.

The Hornets did a solid job at slowing Jones down for much of the contest, limiting him to just two rebounds in a season where he’s averaged nearly 10. Sac State ultimately faltered when it mattered most, allowing him to produce some huge points down the stretch in a night where he ended with 20.

One of those huge buckets came with just 50 seconds left in the game when Jones hit a tremendous fadeaway bucket to extend Weber State’s lead to 55-50. The Wildcats needed every ounce of Jones’ spectacular play down the stretch.

Before that basket by Jones, Sac State had held the Wildcats scoreless for the last four minutes and forced three Weber State turnovers. In that stretch, the Hornets also went on an 8-0 run, including two triples from junior guard Austin Patterson.

Junior forward Austin Patterson shoots a three over his defender in the first half against Weber State Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Patterson would end up being an integral part of Sac State’s efforts to make a second-half comeback as he finished with four total threes in the game. (Alan Cheeseman / Sacramento State Athletics)

Patrick had decided to bring Patterson, along with sophomore forward Duncan Powell, off the bench the past two games. They came into Saturday’s game as two of the teams’ top three leading scorers, so the change came as a bit of a surprise.

Patrick said this was an attempt to add some more experience and a scoring punch off the bench and ultimately give some of his best scorers an opportunity to score against the opposing team’s second unit. In this game, it paid dividends. The Hornets’ bench outscored the Wildcats 40-11.

“It allows me to stay out of foul trouble, most games I’ll get two fouls in the first half and have to sit for a lot of minutes,” said Powell. “I’m at the top of other teams’ scouting reports, so coming off the bench kind of messes up their rotation and their defensive gameplan, so it definitely helps me in those aspects.”

Powell led the team in scoring with 17, and Patterson contributed 12 on 4/6 shooting from deep. Junior forward Jacob Holt added 11 points and seven rebounds on perfect shooting from the field and charity stripe.

The bench’s outstanding contribution would not be enough to overcome Sac State’s continued turnover issues and end-of-game mistakes. They ended the contest with 21 turnovers, which the Wildcats were able to convert 19 points off of.

After freshman guard Emil Skyttä completed the front end of a one-and-one and missed the back end, the Hornets were down four with 35 seconds remaining and needed to foul.

After the Wildcats failed to convert the first attempt of their own one-and-one, the Hornets were able to cut the lead to two after a lay-in from Powell with just nine seconds left.

They had to foul quickly after this and they did, but it came on a made-shot attempt and the Wildcats converted the three-point play. This ended any chances the Hornets may have had at a comeback.

Sac State shouldn’t hang their heads. They showed improvement in many areas, but are still dealing with the effects of such a young rotation.

“It’s pretty tough, especially physicality-wise, a lot of guys in this league have been here for three or four years,” freshman center Bowyn Beatty said. “But a lot of freshmen here are very fortunate for the minutes that we get and that comes out of trust from the coaches.”

Sac State will return back to The Nest for a two-game home stand starting with Northern Arizona on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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Andrew Edwards
Andrew Edwards, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Andrew Edwards is a fourth-year student at Sacramento State in his first semester at The State Hornet. He is a lifelong sports fanatic and has plans to pursue a career in sports journalism after graduating.
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