College Sports

Sacramento State men have promising finish to nonconference schedule

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team finished its nonconference season on an upswing.

In their most entertaining performance this season, the Hornets (3-8) defeated Abilene Christian 88-86 on Saturday to improve to 3-0 at the Nest.

Sac State then scared host Washington State (7-5) before falling 74-66 on Wednesday.

Seeking their first road win, the Hornets led 60-58 with 3:28 to play and trailed 64-63 with 1:57 to go.

In recent games, coach Brian Katz has relied more heavily on his six upperclassmen: seniors Eric Stuteville, Nick Hornsby and Trevis Jackson; and juniors Justin Strings, Marcus Graves and Jiday Ugbaja.

The 6-foot Graves and 5-11 Ugbaja have provided a spark the past two games, driving into the key against bigger, taller opponents while scoring layups and drawing fouls. Graves had 21 points in both games and Ugbaja came off the bench against Abilene Christian and Washington State to score a combined 20 points.

Stuteville scored 11 points against Washington State, his fifth consecutive game in double figures.

The Hornets open Big Sky Conference play Thursday against visiting Northern Colorado.

It’s so awesome that we can have so many different people step up and have huge games. It just shows what team effort it is every game.

Morgan Bertsch, UC Davis forward, who is averaging a team-high 17.5 points for the Aggies’ women

UCD women look formidable – The UC Davis women are showing versatility and depth while living up to their billing as a potential Big West Conference title challenger.

The Aggies (8-3) were composed while dismantling Sac State’s up-tempo offense Sunday. They set a program record for scoring in a Division I game in their 110-78 win at the Nest. UCD was equally potent in beating more methodical USF 78-58 on Tuesday in San Francisco.

“It’s been a great learning experience for our players to know that we can play different styles and come out on top,” coach Jennifer Gross said.

The Aggies’ Morgan Bertsch, a 6-4 sophomore forward, continues to be a nightmare for opponents. Against Sac State, she led seven UCD players in double figures with 18 points and added eight rebounds and four blocks. Against USF, Bertsch had a career-high 27 points.

Bertsch, who is averaging a team-high 17.5 points, said it’s easy to make baskets with teammates who pass and see the floor well. The Aggies, who recorded a season-high 26 assists against the Hornets, are averaging 16.3 assists.

“It’s so awesome that we can have so many different people step up and have huge games,” Bertsch said. “It just shows what team effort it is every game.”

Two of UCD’s losses have come against Top 25 teams Stanford and Oregon State of the Pacific-12 Conference.

Next week, the Aggies will fly to Florida, where they will face Central Florida on Wednesday and Mid-Major No. 20 Jacksonville on Dec. 30.

5 Consecutive double-figure scoring games for Sacramento State’s Eric Stuteville

National exposure – The UCD men’s Big West game at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 14 will be shown on ESPNU.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP