In a game meant for seniors to shine one last time in front of their home crowd, Senior Day instead featured a coming out party for Hornet junior forward Jordan Salley.
Salley's performance off the bench in only 21 minutes of action helped the Hornets (14-13, 8-10) overcome a 13-point deficit and escape with a 53-52 victory over last place Idaho State University at The Nest.
In the win, Salley recorded his first double-double as a Hornet - setting career highs with 16 points, 10 rebounds and a 73 percent field goal percentage.
“I just let the game come to me,” Salley said. “I didn't do anything that I wouldn't normally do. I just took my time with shots and everything just worked out as it did.”
The Hornet forward had two one-handed slam dunks late in the game that sparked the Hornets come-from-behind victory.
“It really felt good,” Salley said. “It boosted my energy even more and gave me even more confidence.”
Sac State head coach Brian Katz said that aside from Salley's performance, his team would have not won tonight's game if it weren't for the motivation senior John Dickson gave the underclassmen.
“He was team-first all the way,” Katz said. “He was coaching our guys on the sideline and had no thought about himself whatsoever.”
With the victory, the Hornets kept their tournament hopes alive and forced a three-way tie in the Big Sky Conference standings with Montana State and Northern Arizona.
The Hornets struggled with shooting the ball in the first half, but were able to establish a rhythm in the second half, outscoring the Bengals 29-18.
Sophomore point guard Dylan Garrity scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, going 3-5 from three-point territory. Mikh McKinney finished with six assists and two timely inside floaters down in the paint that gave him six points.
The Bengals were led by guard Tomas Sanchez's 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Sac State ends its season next week on a two-game road trip that can decide their tournament hopes against Montana and Montana State.
“It's a big confidence booster getting this win,” Dickson said. “We're going down to Montana, so we need to get ready for that. We have to stay consistent even on the defensive end. We have to follow the scouting report and make sure we have our hands high.”
Gabe can be reached on twitter at @sh_sports