GAME NOTES: A pair of teams lingering near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference standings get together in California tonight, as the Sacramento State Hornets entertain the Portland State Vikings.
The Vikings, who will be paying a visit to Northern Arizona during this road trip on Saturday afternoon, managed to snap a three-game slide last weekend with an 81-78 triple-overtime triumph over Montana at home.
Meanwhile, the Hornets are playing at home for just the fifth time this season and are aiming to put together back-to-back wins when they take the floor tonight. Like PSU, Sacramento also snapped a three-game slide last Saturday with a 77-49 romp over Southern Utah.
The Vikings lead the all-time series by a count of 25-11, although Sacramento State holds a 10-8 edge in games played at home. While the Hornets won the most recent meeting, 77-71, in their own building last season, PSU still has taken 11 of the last 13 encounters.
Playing an extra 15 minutes against Montana, the Vikings needed a 3-pointer by Gary Winston with 2.6 seconds to play in the final overtime to get over on the Grizzlies, snapping a nine-game series slide in the process. Winston finished with 211 points off the bench, matching the production of Marcus Hall who nailed 5-of-6 shots behind the 3-point line and also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds. Tim Douglas and Andre Winston chipped in 18 and 10 points, respectively.
The defense for the Vikings has been a bit shaky in conference play, permitting 80.8 ppg as opponents shoot not only 51.2 percent from the field, but also 47.8 percent beyond the arc. Trying to balance the scales are Hall (14.0 ppg), DaShaun Wiggins (13.5 ppg) and Douglas (13.3 ppg), the former connecting on an impressive 14-of-22 (.636) out on the perimeter and also capturing 4.0 rpg in those outings.
As expected, the Hornets had little trouble taking care of business against one of the weakest programs in Division I, limiting Southern Utah to just 15 points in the first half and 49 for the game. Dylan Garrity tallied a game- high 21 points as he converted 5-of-7 shots beyond the arc and 8-of-12 from the floor overall, followed by Mikh McKinney with 15 points, as the duo combined for nine of the unit's 18 assists as well.
On the season, McKinney heads the scoring list for the Hornets with 13.8 ppg, having made good on 84.4 percent of his attempts at the free-throw line, while Garrity pitches in with 12.5 ppg as the other double-digit scorer on the roster. The pair have combined to hit 51 of the team's 91 3-pointers, and also account for more than half of its 164 assists with a collective 85 dishes, against 51 turnovers.
Beating up on Southern Utah is by no means reason for the Hornets to celebrate, but at least Sacramento can feel as though it is moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, the plan is to have the Vikings send the Hornets right back into the loss column.
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