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SALT LAKE CITY — A balanced Sacramento State attack was too much for a one-dimensional Weber State Wednesday morning as the Wildcats fell 62-54 in the opening round of the Big Sky Tournament.
Three Hornets finished the game in double figures, led by Osi Nwachukwu with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Although the game was a defensive battle overall, Sac State moved the ball much more efficiently, tallying 12 assists to Weber’s three.
Like these teams’ previous two matchups this season, the Wildcats (12-20) relied heavily on senior guard Jerrick Harding to provide offensive production. They split the regular-season games, with the Weber win coming on a night in which Harding dropped 44 points on the Hornets.
Harding still scored a game-high 33 points Wednesday, but his lone effort was not enough. No other Wildcat finished in double figures. He played every minute in the game and although he got to the free-throw line 14 times, it did not offset his ice cold 1-for-8 clip from beyond the arc.
The second-leading scorer was Cody John with 8 points, followed by Michal Kozak with 7. The pair combined to go 6-for-22 from the field, with Kozak being 1-of-6 from three.
The Hornets (16-14), on the other hand, had no issues shooting the deep ball. They shot 44% from three, making the category a black eye on Weber’s stat sheet. The Wildcats were outscored 30 to 6 on triples. The poor day shooting threes didn’t bode well for Weber, which falls to 1-10 on the year when scoring fewer than 60 points.
Sac State opened the game on a 14-4 run, thanks to 7 points from Nwachukwu. Weber did not quit, though, and kept working to stay in the game, eventually cutting the deficit to 4 points by halftime.
Harding took matters into his own hands at the outset of the second half, scoring 6 quick points to give Weber State its first lead of the game at 32-30. It did not last long, however. The Hornets snatched the lead back when Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa gave his team a much-needed 3-pointer and layup in succession.
Sac State controlled the rest of the game, always providing an answer to any Weber State effort to take back the lead. The Hornets, who made their money on the boards throughout the season, stayed true to form. They grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and edged Weber in total boards 36-32.
Sac State moves on to face No. 1-seed Eastern Washington on Thursday at noon