SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team was picked to finish seventh in the Big Sky Conference Coaches Poll and sixth in the media poll, the league office announced on Wednesday.
While the Hornets were picked in different spots in the two polls, both the coaches and media voted Idaho State No. 1 in the league. The Bengals won the regular season title last season and knocked out the Hornets in the semifinals en route to the Big Sky Tournament title as well.
The Big Sky Conference is an 11-team league this season as Southern Utah and North Dakota have joined the league. North Dakota, which went 21-11 overall and 9-1 in the Great West Conference checked in at No. 5 in the media poll and No. 6 in the coaches poll. Southern Utah, which went 6-23 overall and 2-16 in the Summit League, was picked to finish 10th in the media poll and last in the coaches poll.
The Hornets, who went 13-19 last season overall and 7-9 in Big Sky play, finished sixth in the league standings en route to their fifth Big Sky Conference Tournament appearance. The Hornets won four straight games to close out the regular season a year ago, including two wins over Portland State, to push past the Vikings and claim the sixth and final bid to the league's postseason tournament. In the first round, the No. 6 seeded Hornets upset No. 3 seed Eastern Washington, 71-61, to claim the program's first-ever win at the Big Sky Tournament.
Head coach enters her fourth season at the helm of the program and holds a 32-59 career record (18-30 Big Sky). The Hornets have advanced to the Big Sky Tournament in two of Craighead's previous three seasons and this year's team looks to follow suit.
Sacramento State returns more than 80 percent of its points, assists and rebounds as only starting forward and reserve guard are gone from year ago. All three Hornets who earned postseason awards are back to anchor the roster. Senior forward , who was a second team all-league choice, averaged a double-double for the second straight season and paced the Hornets in both scoring (13.6) and rebounding (11.6). Junior guard , who was an honorable mention all-conference selection, finished the season second on the team in scoring (13.3) but averaged better than 15 points per game in conference play. Sophomore point guard was named Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year last season after averaging 8.8 points and 4.8 assists. Hilliard accumulated 150 total assists on the season, becoming just the fifth player in Sacramento State history to reach that milestone.
The 2012-13 women's basketball regular season starts on Nov. 9 at Long Beach State but the Hornets will host Academy of Art for an exhibition game on Nov. 2.
|No.||Big Sky Coaches Poll
||Points||No.||Big Sky Media Poll
||97 (8)||1.||Idaho State||154 (8)|
|2.||Northern Colorado||88 (1)||2.||Northern Colorado||146 (4)|
|3.||Montana||77 (2)||3.||Montana||135 (3)|
|4.||Montana State||72||4.||Montana State||127|
|5.||Portland State||63||5.||North Dakota||95|
|7.||Sacramento State||50||7.||Portland State||78|
|8.||Eastern Washington||40||8.||Eastern Washington||65|
|9.||Northern Arizona||28||9.||Northern Arizona||53|
|10.||Weber State||17||10.||Southern Utah||26|
|11.||Southern Utah||13||11.||Weber State||25|