Nearly a month ago, Sacramento State seniors Mikh McKinney, Dylan Garrity, Alex Tiffin and Zach Mills were honored before playing what they thought was their last game at The Nest, the Hornets’ cozy but much maligned micro gym.
But this has been an unprecedented season for the foursome and Sac State men’s basketball program.
So the seniors find themselves back Saturday night for possibly one last home-court hurrah – or not – as Sac State hosts Big Sky Conference rival Northern Arizona in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
“They want to keep playing and knocking down more milestones. ... Like everybody this time of year, they’re fired up to be in the Big Dance,” coach Brian Katz said.
Thanks to a 73-66 victory at Portland on Wednesday, the Hornets will host their first postseason game since 1962. Back then, the program played in what was equivalent to Division II.
The Hornets scored the game’s final seven points to beat Portland, which was the only team to beat Sac State in 14 home games this season. It was Sac State’s sixth consecutive road game – an odyssey that covered 4,500 miles during 31/2 weeks.
“In our games that went down to the last 30 seconds, we’re 9-4,” Katz said. “We have a habit of doing it right a lot more than doing it wrong in those moments.”
Now Sac State (21-11) plays a Northern Arizona (20-14) team that it tied for third place in Big Sky play and split with during the regular season. Northern Arizona beat the Hornets 70-68 in Flagstaff, Ariz., on the final day of the regular season.
Saturday’s game will be Sac State’s first home postseason game since beating Cal Poly Pomona 74-65 in the 1962 NCAA Pacific Coast Regionals. A Hornets victory would tie the school record of 22 wins posted in 1987-88 when Sac State played in D-II. It would also advance them to the CIT quarterfinals next Wednesday or Thursday.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.