WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HANGS TOUGH BUT FALLS TO DEFENDING BIG SKY CHAMPION MONTANA, 77-67
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team fell in a hard fought battle to the Montana Lady Griz by a score of 77-67 on Saturday, Jan. 10 at the Hornets Nest.
With the loss, the Hornets fall to 3-14 overall and 1-3 in Big Sky Conference play, while the Lady Griz improve to 14-3, 3-0 inside the Big Sky.
After the first 20 minutes of play, it looked like the Hornets had a chance to break the Lady Griz' 24 game-winning streak over Sacramento State, as the home team led 34-33 at intermission. The Hornets shot 13-of-26 (50.0 percent) from the field in the first half, knocking down four three-pointers, included three of their first four attempts from beyond the three-point arc.
The second half saw the Lady Griz take the lead right out of the gates, as senior guard Mandy Morales scored a three-point play :15 seconds into the stanza, giving Montana a two-point lead. The Hornets would tie the score at 36-36 a minute later on a jumper by senior forward Atty Boyer (Sacramento, Calif.), but would get no closer the remainder of the game. Montana held a 51-46 lead with 11:35 remaining when junior forward Erika Edwards (Redmond, Wash.) hit her third three-pointer of the game to close the gap to two points.
From there, however, the Lady Griz went on a 10-2 run over the next 3:38 to take a 61-51 lead with 7:07 remaining. The Hornets would stage a brief scoring burst to pull the game to five at 61-56, as freshman guard Nneka Payne (Auburn, Wash.) came off the Hornet bench for the first time and knocked down a three-pointer and a pair of free throws in back-to-back possessions. Late in the shot clock, Montana senior forward Britney Lohman had the answer the next possesion, knocking down a corner three to push the lead back to eight points and start an 11-1 run that put the game away.
"I was really pleased with our preparation for this game on a short turnaround," head coach Dan Muscatell said following the game. "We hit a dry spell scoring in the second half, and Montana is a team that deserves credit for their ability to seize an opportunity and put a game away. We can hold our heads up high and build on the effort our team gave out there today. "
The Hornets, who shot 46.0 percent for the game (23-of-50), were led by junior forward Charday Hunt (Portland, Ore.), who scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. Boyer and Edwards added 13 points apiece, with Boyer securing a team-best seven rebounds. Payne scored eight points off the bench, draining a pair of three-pointers, while sophomore forward Emily Christensen (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in a season-high 25 minutes.
Montana shot 46.2 percent for the game (24-of-52), knocking down 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from beyond the three-point arc and 23-of-28 (82.1 percent) from the foul line. Morales led all scorers with 24 points, as she went 6-of-9 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the three-point arc and 10-of-11 from the foul line, despite missing some time in the second half with a leg injury. All five Lady Griz started scored nine or more points, with Sonya Rogers (13) and Lauren Beck (12) joining Morales in double-figures, while Lohman (9 pts, 6 rbs) and Sarah Ena (9 pts, 8 rbs) produced near double-doubles.
The Hornets return to action at the Hornets Nest on Sunday, Jan. 18 as they host the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in game one of a doubleheader with the Hornet men's basketball team. Tipoff of the women's game is scheduled for 12:35 p.m. at the Hornets Nest.