WOMEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY AT MONTANA STATE AND MONTANA THIS WEEK
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After a 13-day break for finals, the Sacramento State women's basketball team will open up the Big Sky Conference portion of its schedule this week against the league's top two teams as the Hornets visit Montana State and Montana.
Megan Kritscher, the nation's leader in blocks, and the Hornets visit the Montana schools this week.
The Hornets (4-4), currently tied for fifth in the Big Sky Conference, will meet Montana State (6-3) on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT before playing Montana (6-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.
MONTANA STATE BREAKDOWN
Record: 6-2, 0-0 Big Sky Conference (1st)
All-Time Div. I (1991-92) Series: 7-27
Last Meeting: W, 77-76 (Feb. 11, 2012)
Notable: MSU’s Kallie Durham and Rachel Semansky are each averaging better than 13 points per game while Semansky is also averaging a team-best 7.3 rebounds.
Record: 6-3, 0-0 Big Sky Conference (2nd)
All-Time Div. I (1991-92) Series: 1-31
Last Meeting: L, 79-54 (Feb. 9, 2012)
Notable: Montana has won three of its last four games, including a 58-56 win over Denver on Sunday. Kenzie De Boer is averaging a team-high 13.3 points per game.
THIS WEEK IN THE BIG SKY
Eastern Washington - at Weber State, at Idaho State
Idaho State - vs. Portland State, vs. Eastern Wash.
Montana - vs. Northern Arizona, vs. Sac State
Montana State - vs. Sac State, vs. Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona - at Montana, at Montana State
Northern Colorado - vs. S. Utah, at North Dakota
North Dakota - at Northern Colorado
Portland State - at Idaho State, at Weber State
Southern Utah - vs. Houston Baptist, at Idaho State
Weber State - vs. Eastern Wash., vs. Portland State
KUHNS NEARS 1,000 CAREER REBOUNDS
With 988 career rebounds, Kylie Kuhns is just 12 boards away from becoming only the fifth player in Big Sky Conference history to reach 1,000 career rebounds. Kuhns needs 186 more this season to match the league record of 1,174 boards, set by Idaho State’s Natalie Doma in 2008.
KRITSCHER ON THE SWAT TEAM
Senior Megan Kritscher has been a menace on defense this season as the forward leads the NCAA with 4.75 blocks per game. Kritscher tallied a career-high eight blocked shots in the Hornets’ last game, at Eastern Illinois, and had six rejections in the previous contest at SIU-Edwardsville. Kritscher has posted at least three blocks in every game this season but one. She had 43 blocked shots last season but already has 38 this year.
HILLIARD IN BOZEMAN
Last year’s trip to Bozeman, Mont., was a memorable one for point guard Fantasia Hilliard. The then-freshman hit a runner in the lane as the clock expired to give Sacramento State a 77-76 road win. The victory sparked a four-game winning streak for the Hornets, which helped them push past Portland State and into the No. 6 and final seed to the Big Sky Tournament. Sacramento State knocked off Eastern Washington, 71-61, in the first round for the program’s first ever Big Sky Tournament victory.
LAST YEAR’S CONFERENCE OPENERS
Sacramento State came out of the gates hot in Big Sky Conference play last season, with wins over Northern Arizona (91-85, 2OT) and Weber State (78-60) in the opening weekend. It wasn’t the same for the Hornets against Montana State and Montana, as head coach Jamie Craighead’s team went 1-1 against the Bobcats and 0-2 versus the Lady Griz.
A HELPING HAND
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky Conference, averaging 15.9 assists per game. Point guard Fantasia Hilliard also leads the conference, individually, and ranks No. 7 in the NCAA with 55 assists this year. Sacramento State ranked No. 5 in the NCAA, averaging 17.7 assists per game last season. Hilliard led the team and ranked No. 2 in the Big Sky and No. 37 in the NCAA with 4.8 assists per game and also became the fifth player in school history to reach 150 assists in a single season.
KUHNS A DOUBLE-DOUBLE MACHINE
Kylie Kuhns recorded the 40th double-double of her career at Eastern Illinois on Dec. 7. Kuhns is averaging 12.0 points and a Big Sky Conference-best 12.0 rebounds per game this year. She ranked No. 3 in the NCAA as a junior last season with 21 double-doubles. She paced the Big Sky with 13 double-doubles as a sophomore and posted two in her freshman campaign. Last season Kuhns had a double-double in all but 10 games and posted a season-long streak of 13 straight from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31.
Sacramento State is second in the Big Sky in scoring this year, averaging 71.4 points per game. The Hornets ranked No. 1 in the Big Sky in scoring in each of head coach Jamie Craighead’s first three seasons. Last year the Hornets ranked No. 28 in the NCAA averaging 71.7 points per game and are currently ranked No. 30 in the nation. Before that, Sacramento State averaged 70.2 points per game during the 2010-11 season and put up a whopping 79.1 points per game in 2009-10, which ranked No. 6 in the nation.
This season the Hornets are averaging a Big Sky-best 12.3 steals and also lead the league, in blocks averaging 7.0 per game, which ranks No. 4 in the NCAA. Individually, Megan Kritscher leads the nation with 4.75 blocks per game while Fantasia Hilliard is second in steals at 3.0 per game.
Sacramento State set new program bests in both steals and blocked shots last season. The Hornets made 401 steals and ranked No. 6 in the NCAA at 12.9 per game. They also tallied 147 total blocks and ranked No. 40 in the nation at 4.7 per game.
Senior forward Kylie Kuhns will likely make her 67th consecutive start on Thursday at Montana State and the 70th start of her career, both team-highs. Kuhns made three scattered starts as a freshman but has started every contest since the beginning of her sophomore season. Sophomore point guard Fantasia Hilliard has started 39 straight games, every contest since arriving on campus out of Sacramento High School. Junior guard Alle Moreno is just behind Hilliard with 38 straight starts
KUHNS SETS SCHOOL REBOUNDS RECORD
Kylie Kuhns grabbed 12 rebounds against Utah Valley on Nov. 20, but it was her 10th, an offensive board with 14:39 remaining in the second half, that pushed her to the top of the record books and past Heidi Carroll, who set the previous record of 931 rebounds in 1986. Kuhns grabbed 211 rebounds as a freshman, 321 as a sophomore and 360 last season as a junior. The senior has 96 thus far through eight games.
STEALS RECORD ALSO IN REACH
After setting the career rebounds record, the all-time steals mark is the next one in Kylie Kuhns’ sights. The senior has 176 career steals and is just three away from tying Kristy Ryan’s record of 179, set in 1994.
HORNETS VERSUS THE PAC-12
As of Dec. 3, Sacramento State is one of just three universities in the nation with wins over a Pac-12 school in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. Football won, 30-28, at Colorado, men’s basketball won 74-71 at Utah while women’s basketball is coming off an 80-71 overtime win at Oregon State. Nevada also did it when the Wolf Pack defeated Cal in football, Oregon in women’s basketball and Washington in men’s basketball. BYU also reached the milstone, since the Cougars defeated Washington State in football, Arizona in women’s basketball and Utah in men’s hoops. In addition to other Pac-12 teams once conference play starts, one other school could achieve the feat as well. Fresno State defeated Colorado in football and Washington State in women’s basketball while the Bulldogs will play UCLA in men’s basketball on Dec. 22.