SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The No. 5 seed Sacramento State women's basketball team will meet No. 4 seed Idaho State in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament at 7 p.m. PT on Wednesday at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont.
The Hornets (18-11, 13-7 Big Sky) lost both regular season meetings with the Bengals (18-11, 13-7). That wasn't a problem last season, when head coach Jamie Craighead's squad upset Eastern Washington in the first round of the conference tournament despite being swept by the Eagles in the regular season.
If the Hornets advance, the semifinals will be played on Friday and the championship game will follow on Saturday.
SACRAMENTO STATE BREAKDOWN
Record: 18-11, 13-7 Big Sky (T-4th)
All-Time Big Sky Tournament Record: 1-5
Last Big Sky Tourney Win: 71-61 vs. EWU (2012)
Last Big Sky Tourney Loss: 70-57 vs. ISU (2012)
Notable: Sacramento State is making its sixth appearance in the Big Sky Tournament, and the third in four season under head coach Jamie Craighead. The Hornets' 18 wins this year is a Div. I (1991-92+) program record.
BIG SKY TOURNAMENT SEEDS
No. 1 - Montana (22-7, 16-4)
No. 2 - Northern Colorado (18-11, 15-5)
No. 3 - Eastern Washington (18-11, 14-6)
No. 4 - Idaho State (18-11, 13-7)
No. 5 - Sacramento State (18-11, 13-7)
No. 6 - Montana State (17-12, 11-9)
No. 7 - Southern Utah (15-15, 9-11)
Sacramento State went 5-7 this season against the other six teams in the Big Sky Tournament.
All games at the Big Sky Tournament can be watched live via Big Sky TV.
HORNETS HEADED TO THE BIG SKY TOURNEY
Sacramento State will make its sixth trip to the Big Sky Tournament in program history this week, and the third in four seasons under head coach Jamie Craighead. The Hornets joined the Big Sky for the 1996-97 season. Last year, No. 6 seed Sacramento State defeated No. 3 seed Eastern Washington, 71-61, in the quarterfinals for the program's first ever Big Sky Tournament victory. The Hornets lost, 70-57, to No. 1 seed and host Idaho State in the semifinals last year but will get a chance to avenge that loss with a quarterfinals meeting with the Bengals this season. In Craighead's first season, 2009-10, the No. 3 seed Hornets were upset by No. 6 seed Montana State, 89-66, in the first round.
LAST YEAR VERSUS IDAHO STATE IN THE TOURNEY
Idaho State ended Sacramento State's season last year, with a 70-57 loss to the Bengals in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament. Then-senior Emily Christensen led the Hornets with 12 points while Kylie Kuhnsand Alle Moreno added 10 points each. Moreno was ejected after getting her second technical foul of the game with 57 seconds left. Idaho State led by as much as 18 points in the second half as all five starters scored in double figures. Lindsey Reed scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Cydney Horton had 15 points while Ashleigh Vella and Chelsea Pickering had 13 points each. Kaela Oaks chipped in 10.
BIG SKY ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
Kylie Kuhns was named first team all-Big Sky while Fantasia Hilliard and Alle Moreno earned honorable mention honors, the league announced on March 11. Kuhns is the seventh player in school history to be named first team all-conference since the Hornets joined for the 1996-97 season. Hilliard was the Big Sky's freshman of the year last season while Moreno claimed her second straight honorable mention.
A HISTORIC SEASON
Sacramento State's win over Montana on Saturday was its 18th this season, the most in the program's Div. I history. Since the Hornets moved up to Div. I for the 1991-92 season, Sacramento State's record for wins was 17, when the Hornets went 17-10 as an independent during the 1992-93 campaign. Sacramento State's overall record for wins is 19, when the Hornets went 19-7 as an independent in 1990-91, their final season of Div. II competition. With 13 Big Sky wins, the Hornets eclipsed their previous record of 10 league victories, set during the 2009-10 season. That achievement needs to be put in context, however, because the Big Sky added two teams - North Dakota and Southern Utah - prior to this season and the Hornets played four additional conference games.
KUHNS SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT
Kylie Kuhns is shooting a blistering 64.2 percent (52-of-81) while averaging 17.3 points over her last seven games. Overall this season, Kuhns ranks No. 9 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big Sky in field goal percentage at 55.3 percent (164-of-296). Only Montana State's Rachel Semansky (55.7 percent, 141-of-253) is better in the Big Sky. In two games against the Hornets, however, while being guarded by Kuhns, Semansky shot just 27.3 percent from the field and averaged 8.5 points. If the season ended today, Kuhns' 55.4 shooting percentage would be the seventh best in single-season school history and her career 49.1 shooting percentage would check in at No. 8.
KUHNS SETS BIG SKY CAREER REBS RECORD
Kylie Kuhns has 1,208 rebounds in her stellar career, the most in program history and now the most in Big Sky Conference history. The Big Sky record was 1,174, set by Idaho State's Natalie Doma in 2008. Kuhns needed 17 before playing Weber State on Feb. 28, but she grabbed 20 to break the record. Kuhns earlier became just the fifth player in Big Sky history to reach 1,000 career rebounds and the first in school history to reach 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds in the Hornets' Dec. 22 game at Montana. Kuhns had 23 rebounds and 25 points last weekend in two games against the Montana schools and now has 68 career 10+ rebound game and 51 career double-doubles.
KRITSCHER REACHES BIG SKY BLOCKS MARK
Megan Kritscher has 109 blocked shots this season and is the new Big Sky Conference single-season recordholder after breaking the previous mark of of 100, set by EWU's Brenda Souther during the 1983-84 season. Kritscher swatted five shots at Weber State on Feb. 28 to break the record. She also blocked six shots against Eastern Washington on Feb. 7 but needed only five entering the game to break Heidi Carroll's single-season school record of 83 blocks. Kritscher has tallied 5+ blocks 13 times this year, with a season-high 8 at Eastern Illinois on Dec. 7. She ranks No. 3 in the NCAA, averaging 3.8 blocked shots per game.
HILLIARD SETS SCHOOL ASSISTS RECORD
With her last of five assists against Weber State on Feb. 28, Fantasia Hilliard eclipsed Heather Baker for the most assists in single-season school history. Hilliard now has 177 this year, bettering Baker's previous school record of 160, set during the 1991-92 season. Her 177 assists this year is the 13th most in Big Sky Conference single-season history. Hilliard has reached 10+ assists in four games this year, including 11 last Thursday in Sacramento State's 84-50 victory over Montana State.
MORENO EARNS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After averaging 18 points per game in the Hornets' first-ever weekend sweep of the Montana schools, junior Alle Moreno was named Big Sky Conference co-player of the week. She shared the award with Eastern Washington's Lexie Nelson. Moreno shot 40 percent from the floor and 42.1 percent the 3-point line while averaging 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and 1.5 steals in the two games.
RECAP: AT IDAHO STATE (3/2/13)
Idaho State shot 52.3 percent from the floor while holding the Hornets to 33.3 percent shooting and the Sacramento State women's basketball team lost, 81-61, on March 3 at Reed Gym. The Hornets found themselves in an early hole, down 20-9, with 11:47 left in the first half. Sacramento State went on a 15-4 run to tie it up at 24-24 with 5:08 remaining before halftime but Idaho State pushed back ahead and held a 41-32 advantage at the break. Idaho State continued to pull ahead after halftime and never led by less than seven points in the second half before winning by a 20-point margin. The Bengals grabbed 13 more rebounds than the Hornets and had a 42-24 edge on points in the paint. Senior Kylie Kuhns shined once again for the Hornets, posting a game-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds. Kuhns became the Big Sky's all-time rebound champion when she reached 1,175 boards with 20 against Weber State on Thursday night.Fantasia Hilliard added 12 points while Natasha Torgerson had seven off the bench. Idaho State featured four players in double figures, led by Jessa Jeppesen and Ashleigh Vella's team-high 17 points. Both also had double-doubles, as Jeppesen grabbed 13 rebounds and Vella tallied 12.
RECAP: AT IDAHO STATE (3/2/13)
Idaho State's Lindsey Reed scored a game-high 19 points and the Bengals handed the Sacramento State women's basketball team its first home loss of the season, 62-52, on Jan. 17 at The Nest. A game after scoring a then-season-high 85 points in a win over Eastern Washington, the Hornets scored a season-low 52 versus the Bengals. Sacramento State was down early on Saturday but kept the deficit respectable until Idaho State took a 41-31 lead with 13:47 left in the game. But the Hornets were able to rally and were down just two points at 49-47 with 3:41 remaining. That's when Ashleigh Vella buried a 3-pointer on the next possession and the Bengals went 6-for-6 at the free throw line to salt the game away. Including the six free throws in the final minute, Idaho State went 21-of-27 at the foul line while Sacramento State went just 9-of-13. Kylie Kuhns led the Hornets with 15 points and seven rebounds while Fantasia Hilliard added nine points and five assists. Reed paced the Bengals with 19 points while Kaela Oakes had 14 and Cydney Horton chipped in 12. Horton and Jessa Jeppesen each had a game-high nine points.
POSSESSIONS PER 40 MINUTES
According to WBBState.com, Sacramento State ranks third in the NCAA and first in the Big Sky in possessions per 40 minutes. The Hornets average 81.0 possessions per 40 minutes. Only San Jose State (84.5) and Troy (81.8) rank ahead of Sacramento State.
KUHNS IN REBOUND RANKINGS
Kylie Kuhns ranks first in the Big Sky Conference and No. 19 in the nation this season, averaging 10.9 rebounds per game. Kuhns checked in at No. 6 in the nation last season with 11.6 rebounds per game and was No. 12 as a sophomore at 11.0 boards per game. Kuhns has reached 10+ rebounds in 68 career games and 19 of 29 games this season. Kuhns has grabbed at least one rebound in every single game of her illustrious career.
KUHNS A DOUBLE-DOUBLE MACHINE
Kylie Kuhns has 51 career double-doubles and 15 this season after tallying two last weekend. Kuhns scored 12 points to go with 13 rebounds in an 84-50 win over Montana State and then posted 13 points and 10 rebounds in an 80-71 victory against Montana. Kuhns ranked No. 3 in the NCAA and led the league as a junior last season with 21 double-doubles. Kuhns paced the Big Sky with 13 double-doubles as a sophomore and netted two in her freshman campaign. Last season Kuhns had a double-double in all but 10 games and posted a season-long streak of 13 straight games.
Sacramento State is once again at the top of the Big Sky in scoring this year, averaging 73.0 points per game. That total checks in at No. 17 in the NCAA. The Hornets have reached 80 points in back-to-back games and scored a season-high 103 points against Weber State on Jan. 19 plus 93 in a win over Southern Utah on Feb. 2. The Hornets ranked No. 1 in the Big Sky in scoring in each of head coach Jamie Craighead's first three seasons. Last year the Hornets ranked No. 28 in the NCAA averaging 71.7 points per game. Before that, the Hornets averaged 70.2 points per game during the 2010-11 season and put up a whopping 79.1 points in 2009-10, which ranked No. 6 in the nation.
A HELPING HAND
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky and is No. 8 in the NCAA, averaging 17.1 assists per game. Point guard Fantasia Hilliard leads the conference, individually, and ranks No. 19 in the NCAA with 6.1 assists per game this year. Sacramento State ranked No. 5 in the NCAA, averaging 17.7 assists per game last season. Hilliard ranked No. 2 in the Big Sky and No. 37 in the NCAA with 4.8 assists per game and also became the fifth player in school history to reach 150 assists in a single season. Hilliard has 177 assists thus far in 2012-13, the most in program history and the 13th most in Big Sky single-season history.
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in blocked shots and steals per game this year. The Hornets are averaging 6.1 blocks per game, which ranks No. 3 in the NCAA. The big reason why, literally and figuratively, is 6-foot-4 Megan Kritscher, who is third in the nation with 3.8 blocks per game. At 11.8 steals per game, Sacramento State checks in at No. 1 in the Big Sky and No. 22 in the NCAA. The trio of Fantasia Hilliard(2.3, T-3rd), Se'nyce Parrish (2.3, T-3rd) and Alle Moreno (2.0, 6th) all rank in the top-10 individually in the Big Sky in steals per game. Sacramento State set new program bests in both steals and blocked shots last season. The Hornets tallied 401 steals and ranked No. 6 in the NCAA at 12.9 per game. They also recorded 147 total blocks and ranked No. 40 in the nation at 4.7 per game.
Senior Kylie Kuhns will likely make her 90th consecutive start and the 92nd overall on Wednesday night against Idaho State. Both marks are team-highs. Kuhns made three scattered starts as a freshman but has started every contest since the beginning of her sophomore season. Sophomore Fantasia Hilliard has started 60 straight games, every contest since arriving on campus. Junior Alle Moreno is just behind with 59 straight starts. Se'nyce Parrish is now a fixture in the lineup and has made 27 consecutive starts this season.