SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team defeated conference-leading Montana for just the second time in school history and the Hornets locked up the No. 5 seed in the Big Sky Tournament with an 80-71 victory in their regular season finale on Saturday at The Nest.
The Hornets (18-11, 13-7 Big Sky) finish the regular season with a Div. I program record 18 wins while the Big Sky regular season champion Lady Griz (22-7, 16-4) lost for just the second time in their last 13 games.
No. 5 seed Sacramento State will meet No. 4 seed Idaho State on Wednesday in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament, which the Lady Griz will host in Missoula, Mont. In the other first round match-ups, No. 2 Northern Colorado will play No. 7 Southern Utah and No. 3 Eastern Washington will meet No. 6 Montana State. Montana earned a first round bye and the right to host as the league's regular season champion. Montana is also hosting the Big Sky men's basketball tournament, which pushed the women's first round up to Wednesday as the men's first round will be on Thursday. After the first round is played on Wednesday, the semifinals for both the men's and women's tournaments will take place on Friday with the championship games to follow on Saturday.
The Hornets will be making their sixth appearance at the Big Sky Tournament in program history and third time in four seasons under head coach Jamie Craighead. Last year Sacramento State won a league tournament game for the first time, 71-61, versus Eastern Washington in the first round.
Against Montana on Saturday, their were six lead changes and six ties in the game but the Hornets pulled away when it mattered most.
Montana led by as much as seven in the first half, at 21-14 with 13:16 left before halftime. Sacramento State responded with a 14-2 run over the next 4:32 to take a 28-23 lead with 8:44 remaining in the first half.
The Hornets led 40-36 at halftime but had to battle in the second to earn the win. It was a back and forth game until the 3:50 mark of the second half. With the score tied up, 69-69, the Hornets, fueled by 3-pointers from Alle Moreno and Natasha Togerson, went on an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to put the game away. Sacramento State ended the game on an 11-2 run.
Torgerson, a senior playing in her final game at home, finished a with a career-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including a career-best 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Alle Moreno added 17 points while senior Kylie Kuhns, the Big Sky's all-time career rebound leader, posted the 51st double-double of her stellar career with 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Sacramento State's reserves helped out in a big way as the Hornets tallied 36 bench points, compared to 11 for the Lady Griz.
Montana was led by Kenzie De Boer's 18 points while Katie Baker added a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Sacramento State is now 2-32 against Montana in the Div. I era (1991-92+), with both wins coming under Craighead. After beating Montana State on Thursday, 84-50, and the Lady Griz on Saturday, 80-71, the Hornets swept a weekend against the Montana schools for the first time in school history.
Sacramento State shot 37.8 percent overall on 28-of-74 shooting, including 9-of-26 from 3-point range. The Hornets snagged 49 rebounds, committed nine turnovers and tallied 20 assists. They went 15-of-23 at the free throw line.
Montana shot 39.2 percent from the field on 29-of-74 shooting, with 9-of-28 coming from beyond the arc. The Lady Griz grabbed 47 rebounds and were pressured into 14 turnovers with 18 assists. They went 4-of-5 at the free throw line. Montana and Montana State combined to make just eight free throws in two games over the weekend.
Up next for the Hornets is a trip to the Big Sky Tournament, where they will meet Idaho State in the first round.