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Northern Arizona Box Score - Jan. 4
DEFENDING CONFERENCE CHAMPS SPOIL WOMENâ€™S HOOPS BIG SKY OPENER
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State opened up Big Sky Conference play on Thursday night at the Hornets Nest, suffering a 76-54 loss to defending league champion, Northern Arizona.
First team all-Big Sky forward Alyssa Wahl scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and was nearly unstoppable in the post, shooting 12-of-19 from the floor in 28 minutes of action. Also reaching double figures for the Lumberjacks was Kim Winkfield, dropping 13 points and coming up with three steals. Off the bench, Katie Schaefer added 12 points and five boards.
The Hornets (2-12, 0-1) were led by freshman forward Erika Edwards’ career-high 14 points, but defensively, Sacramento State could not control Northern Arizona (8-6, 1-0) around the basket. The Hornets were outscored 32-10 in the paint and were outrebounded 46-28, conceding 18 offensive boards.
Sacramento State also had trouble taking care of the basketball. Northern Arizona was able to capitalize on the Hornets’ miscues, scoring 30 of their points off 26 Hornet turnovers.
“I knew we were ready, I am just not sure if we were overhyped,” head coach Dan Muscatell said. “We just weren’t aggressive in the first half. In the second half we did a better job, in terms of effort and execution. But obviously tonight, it was just too little too late.”
Sacramento State lacked contribution on the scoreboard from senior guards Kim Sheehy and Stephanie Cherry, who finished with three points apiece, but Sheehy distributed a team-leading seven assists. The all-conference guard is averaging 6.3 assists per game in her last six contests.
The Lumberjacks wasted little time getting their offense into sync, reaching a double-digit lead, 18-8, by the 9:51 mark of the first half. The Hornets attempted to cut Northern Arizona’s lead to single digits as halftime approached, as an Edwards’ three-pointer with less than two minutes remaining cut the lead to 32-19, but the Lumberjacks scored two unanswered buckets for a 36-19 advantage at the break.
In the second half, a more aggressive Sacramento State team scored 35 points, with freshman forward Kelly Vega producing a career-high seven points on a 5-of-6 performance from the free-throw line. Edwards also added seven of her 14 in the final 20 minutes.
“I thought both of out freshman posts worked extremely hard in the second half,” Muscatell said. “It was nice to see them rewarded for their efforts.”
Also adding seven points was sophomore newcomer Jourdan Willard. The Sacramento native was able to play in her first game for the Hornets after transferring from Nevada a year ago. In her debut, the 2004 El Camino HS graduate added four rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
“It was great to see Jourdan on the floor in a Hornet uniform,” Muscatell said. “She delivered what I expected her to. She made a lot of things happen and also got herself into some trouble trying to do too much. I expect a lot of great things from her as she settles in over the next few weeks.”
Sacramento State returns to the floor on Saturday, hosting Big Sky newcomer Northern Colorado at 2:05 p.m. It will be PEPSI Kids’ Day at the Nest, with children ages 12-and-under admitted for free. After the game, the Hornets coaches and players will host an one-hour long clinic for all kids in attendance, focusing on fun and informative skills and drills.
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