Mistakes Prove Costly As The Tigers Fall At Sacramento State

T.J. Wallace - Photo by: WCCSports
T.J. Wallace - Photo by: WCCSports

Sacramento, Calif. - Playing for the first time since 2009, the Tigers took on Sacramento State on the hardwood at The Nest in Sacramento, falling 79-71 on Sunday evening. The loss was the first for the Tigers (1-5) in the last four meetings with the Hornets (5-1) and just the eighth overall win for Sacramento State in the 39 meetings between the two sides.

In all, the Tigers put four in double figures with both D.J. Ursery, 13 points, and Jacob Lampkin, 12 points, scoring career highs for Pacific. Overall, Pacific was led by T.J. Wallace who netted 19 in the loss while Tonko Vuko tallied 10.

For Wallace, the game got off to a hot start as he drained his first shot of the game, a three from the right angle to give Pacific a quick lead at 5-4. However, after the shot from Wallace, the Tigers turned the ball over on four-straight possessions, keeping Pacific from getting its offense going early against the Hornets. Despite the early mistakes, Sac State was not able to take advantage as the Hornets were able to establish just a three-point advantage. The lack of offense for the Hornets kept Pacific in the game through the first few minutes before a three from the top of the arc from Ilias Theodorou knotted the game at 12-12 with 13:10 minutes to play in the half. 

With the game even and a chance to take control, the Tigers missed a handful of opportunities on the offensive end while the Hornets found their way en route to building a seven point lead at 24-17. Settling down and keeping a handle on the ball, Pacific was able to fight its way back into the game behind a 7-1 run that was led by Theodorou as the big Greek bookended a three from Wallace with a jumper and a layup that made it a one point game at 25-24. 

The one point deficit would grow to as much as seven for the Hornets as Sac State took advantage of a generous amount of whistles that put the Tigers in foul trouble and the Hornets on the line. Using a 7-2 run, Sac State built its lead to 32-26 with just under two minutes to play as they looked to run away with the half. 

Despite the deficit the Tigers were able to flip the momentum and get back into the mix as Pacific scored six unanswered points in the final :49 seconds of the half to even the contest at 32-32 heading to the break. In the run, the Tigers picked up three from Tonko Vuko on a layup and a foul before Wallace hit his third three-ball of the half with just :12 seconds to play to tie the game. Wallace's three came from the right angle as the junior found himself so wide open he second and third-guessed his shot before stepping into the jumper and draining it to finish the half with 11 points.

Out of the break, the two teams picked right back up as they traded points and leads until a quick five points out of Sac State's Cody Demps pushed the momentum back into the Hornets' favor at 43-38. Demps was able to hit a three before a Tiger five second call on the ensuing inbound gave the ball back to the Hornets under the basket where it turned into an easy layup. The Hornets would extend their lead eight after Pacific turned the ball over for the fourth consecutive trip down the floor.

Wallace would stop the bleeding momentarily with his fourth three, but another turnover on the next possession led to a three from Dreon Barlett on the other end to make it an eight point game at 50-42 with just over 13 minutes to play in the game. From there, the Hornets would build their lead to double-digits, extending the advantage to as much as 13 before holding off a late run by Pacific in the final minutes of the game as the Tigers climbed within five with under one-minute to play.

In the end the Tigers' season-high 21 turnovers proved to be too much to overcome as the Hornets converted them into 24 points. The 21 giveaways marked the most for the Tigers since the 2012 season when they had 21 in an overtime win over Idaho State on Feb. 18, 2102. Overall, the Tigers shot 53.8% from the floor in the second half and 45.5% overall but were outpaced by the Hornets who shot 57.6% in the half and 50.0% overall.

The undersized Tigers controlled the glass with 40 rebounds to the Hornets' 27 with Lampkin grabbing nine, one off of his career high. Wallaced finished his night with five three-pointers on a career-high 11 attempts as Pacific extended its three-point streak to 863 games. 

The Hornets posted three players in double figures with Marcus Graves matching Wallace for the game high with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Demps would chip in 17 to the Hornets' cause while Nick Hornsby added 13. Graves got most of his offense going off the turnover as he accounted for a career-high eight of the 12 Hornet steals. 

Pacific will look to rebound against an old Big West foe, UC Irvine, on Friday, Dec. 4 when the Anteaters come to Stockton. The game is scheduled for 7:00 pm on theW.tv.