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Defense Key in Women's Basketball's 80-62 Vicotry Over North Dakota

Defense Key in Women's Basketball's 80-62 Vicotry Over North Dakota

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team scored 48 points on 31 forced turnovers and improved to 9-1 at home this season with an 80-62 victory over North Dakota in a Big Sky Conference game on Thursday night at The Nest.

The win moved the Hornets (14-9, 9-5 Big Sky) into a third place tie in the Big Sky standings with Idaho State and Eastern Washington. Montana is currently in first place with Northern Colorado a half game back in second. Both the Lady Griz and Bears have clinched bids to the Big Sky Tournament. Northern Colorado visits The Nest at 2 p.m. on Saturday in a battle of two of the league's hottest teams. The Bears have won seven straight games while the Hornets have won eight of their last 11.

While the Sacramento State offense was clicking once again on Thursday night versus North Dakota, it was the defense that propelled a big run to end the first half.

The Hornets had a slim lead at 24-22 with 5:21 left in the first half when their full court press started doing damage. Sacramento State forced eight turnovers from that point until halftime and North Dakota was able to manage just three shot attempts, all misses, in that stretch. The Hornets went on a 14-0 run in the span.

When North Dakota had its biggest lead of the game at 16-10, with 9:16 left in the first half, head coach Jamie Craighead's team responded with a whopping 28-6 run to end the period.

North Dakota was never able to trim Sacramento State's lead to single digits in the second half and the Hornets won comfortably at home once again. The Hornets are outscoring opponents by more than 10 points per game (77.5-67.1) in 10 home games this year.

While the Hornets' press caused most of the turnovers, Sacramento State's half-court defense forced North Dakota into the final three seconds of the shot clock on 10 occassions and tallied three shot clock violations. UND made just two baskets in those 10 posessions.

Kylie Kuhns led the way for the Hornets with 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting plus eight rebounds and six assists. The senior now needs 42 more rebounds to break the Big Sky career record of 1,174. Alle Moreno chipped in 17 points, including five 3-pointers, plus seven rebounds.

Fantasia Hilliard was just short of a double-double as well with 17 points and seven assists. Hilliard is averaging a team-best 14.3 points and 6.3 assists per game in Big Sky play while shooting 42.3 percent from the field, 38.1 percent on 3-pointers and 83.6 percent at the line.

Megan Kritscher, who ranks No. 2 in the NCAA with 4.1 blocked shots per game, swatted four shots against North Dakota and now needs just seven more rejections to break the Big Sky single-season record of 100.

North Dakota was paced by Emily Evers' 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting plus Mia Loyd's seven rebounds.

Sacramento State shot 50.0 percent overall, its second-best mark of the season, on 34-of-68 shooting, including 7-of-19 from 3-point range. The Hornets snagged a season-low 28 rebounds, committed 15 turnovers and tallied 26 assists. They went 5-of-8 from the free throw line.

North Dakota shot 45.5 percent from the field on 25-of-55 shooting, with 5-of-13 coming from beyond the arc. North Dakota grabbed 40 rebounds and was pressured into 31 turnovers with 11 assists. UND went 7-of-13 at the free throw line.

The Hornets stay home this weekend and play host to Northern Colorado at 2 p.m. on Sunday.