Two close games resulted in two losses for Sacramento State, which opened play in the Big Sky Conference last week. The Hornets lost both contests by a combined five points at the Hornets Nest, extending their current five-game losing streak and blemishing what was a 5-0 undefeated record at home.
In Thursday''s 79-76 loss to Idaho State, two missed three-pointers with less than 10 seconds remaining failed to tie the score, and in a 57-55 loss to Weber State on Saturday, a turnover with three seconds on the clock dashed late hopes of scoring the game-tying basket on the final possession.
The Hornets now hit the road for the next two weeks, starting with Montana State at Worthington Arena on Thursday, Jan. 19 and Montana on Saturday, Jan. 21 at Dahlberg Arena. Sacramento State has yet to win a road game this season (0-7) and trails the Bobcats, 15-4, in the all-time series while trailing the Grizzlies, 18-0.
Despite the Hornets woes in the win-loss column, Sacramento State continues to improve program numbers. Compared to just one year ago, the Hornets are averaging 60.0 points per game, when compared to 56.1 last season.
The team has also picked up its consistency at the free-throw line, shooting 73.1 percent from the charity stripe when compared to a .624 percentage from last year. If the Hornets stay consistent from the line, their free throw efforts will set the Division I single season record.
The team''s deep threat has been one of the main reasons the Hornets'' offensive production has risen. Sacramento State is second in the Big Sky, knocking down 6.6 three-pointers per game, while shooting 31.8 percent (third in the conference) from downtown.
Sacramento State''s top two scorers also form the Hornets'' starting backcourt. Junior guard Kim Sheehy continues to lead the team averaging 12.2 points per game (10th in the Big Sky), while junior point guard Stephanie Cherry continues to increase her offensive production, averaging a career-high 11.3 points per game.
Sheehy, last season''s co-Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, leads the conference averaging 2.64 three-pointers per game. The Santa Fe, N.M., native has knocked down 37 buckets from long distance, giving her a career total of 92. In just her second season, she now ranks fourth all-time in program history and if she is able to stay on her current pace, would post the second-highest single season record in program history. Sheehy also maintains a conference-leading 20-game streak with at least one three-pointer.
Cherry recorded two double-digit scoring games over the weekend, posting 14 points against Idaho State and a season-high tying 22 against Weber State. The Suisun, Calif., native also dished out a career-high seven assists against the Bengals, and is now averaging a team-leading 2.93 assists per game (ninth in the Big Sky). Cherry''s performance from the free-throw line against the Wildcats was one of the main reasons Sacramento State was within striking distance in the closing seconds. The 5-foot-6 guard knocked down a career-high 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, including sinking all six of her attempts in the final 34 seconds.
Senior forward Ashley Cadotte continues to show leadership and determination on the floor, and it is beginning to show up in her numbers. In Thursday''s loss to the Bengals, the Oregon City, Ore., native tied a career-high with a team-leading 16 points and eight rebounds.
On Saturday, she led the team with nine rebounds and also picked up a career and game-high six steals. In her second season out of Clackamas CC, she leads the team averaging 7.3 rebounds per game (tied for fifth in the Big Sky) and also leads the team with 2.71 steals per game (second in the Big Sky). In fact, in her last seven games, Cadotte has pulled down at least five boards, a streak that leads the conference. She is averaging 8.9 points per game, while dishing out 2.1 assists per game.
CALLING ALL DEFENDERS
While Cadotte''s 2.71 steals per game rank her second in the Big Sky, she is one of three Hornets to rank in the top-five. Cherry''s 2.36 steals rank her third in the conference, and Sheehy''s 2.14 steals rank her fifth.
With three of the top five individual steal leaders in the Hornets'' starting five, it isn''t any wonder Sacramento State is averaging 10.07 steals per game as team, second in the Big Sky. The Hornets are holding opponents to 63.4 points per game as well, a mark that would set the program''s Div. I single season lowest opponents'' scoring average, if the year ended today.
In the Big Sky opening weekend, Sacramento State was without freshman forward Atty Boyer, who suffered a sprained ankle at practice. The 6-foot-0, El Camino HS graduate should be ready to play this week. She has been averaging 8.4 minutes, 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Seeing an increase in playing time over the past few games has been senior guard Lindsay Calmettes. The Gresham, Ore., native plays aggressively on the defensive end and has shown her potential to knock down the outside shot. Against Idaho State, she played 17 minutes and knocked down a three-pointer while dishing out a career-high three assists. Against Weber State, she scored a career-high five points and knocked down her third trey of the season.
Montana State is 1-12 on the season and, in its Big Sky opener, suffered a 79-54 loss to rival Montana. The Bobcats are being outscored by an average of 15.5 points per game and are being outrebounded an average of 9.0 boards per game.
Scotta Morton is the only player averaging double figures, scoring 13.7 points per game. She is particularly deadly from beyond the three-point line, averaging 2.62 treys per game, second only to Sheehy. Amanda DeHaan is averaging a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per game, while Alyssa Nelson serves up 4.0 assists per game and Whitney Connolly averages 1.46 blocks per game.
Now in its 10th year in the Big Sky, Sacramento State has yet to defeat Montana in 18 previous attempts. Last year in Missoula, the Hornets battled the Grizzlies to the wire in a 57-54 loss. Montana is 12-2 on the year and undefeated (7-0) on its homecourt. The defending Big Sky champions are led by Katie Edwards and Dana Conway''s 13.0 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. Edwards leads the Big Sky with a near flawless performance from the free-throw line, shooting 94.6 percent (35-of-37) on the season. Jody McLeod is leading the team with 7.3 rebounds per game, while Tamara Guardipee leads the Big Sky with 1.57 blocks per game. The Grizzlies are scoring 68.6 points per game, while holding opponents to just 58.7 points per game.
HEAD COACH DAN MUSCATELL
Dan Muscatell became the sixth Sacramento State women''s basketball head coach in the program''s 40-year history in March of 2003, after spending four seasons as an assistant at Oregon (1999-03). He earned his first win with the Hornets on Jan. 14, 2004, with a 56-50 win at Portland State.
Muscatell (14-55) posted an 8-20 record last season, the team''s best mark since the 1995-96 season and advanced the team to the Big Sky postseason tournament for just the second time since the Hornets joined the Big Sky in 1996. The team also led the Big Sky with 10.5 steals per game.
While at Oregon, Muscatell was involved in all aspects of the program, including the coordination of recruiting efforts and the coaching of offense and defense. He also worked with both the perimeter and post players.
While at Oregon, the Everett, Wash., native was responsible for bringing in one of the nation''s top recruiting classes in 2001, a six-member class that was ranked 17th in the nation by All-Star Girls Report. Muscatell also coached or recruited current and former WNBA players Edneisha Curry, Jenny Mowe, Angelina Wolvert and Shaquala Williams.
During his four years at Oregon, the Ducks were ranked in the top 25 during three of those seasons, including two top-10 finishes in 2000 and 2001. The program also combined to post a record of 74-49 while capturing two NCAA Tournament berths (2000 and 2001), a National Invitational Tournament (NIT) title (2002) and a Pac-10 crown (2000).