SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After knocking off Idaho State, 73-60, in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament on Wednesday night, the Sacramento State women's basketball team will battle No. 1 seed and host Montana in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. PT on Friday at Dahlberg Arena.
The Hornets (19-11) defeated the Lady Griz (22-7) at home last weekend but fell on the road earlier in the regular season. As the No. 1 seed, Montana had a bye through the first round.
SACRAMENTO STATE BREAKDOWN
Record: 19-11, 13-7 Big Sky (T-4th)
All-Time Big Sky Tournament Record: 2-5
Last Big Sky Tourney Win: 73-60 vs. ISU (2013)
Last Big Sky Tourney Loss: 70-57 vs. ISU (2012)
Notable: Sacrmaneto State has won back-to-back first round games in the Big Sky Tournament. The wins are the Hornets' only Big Sky Tournament wins in program history. The Hornets' 19 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 (19-11, 15-5)
No. 3 - Eastern Washington (19-11, 14-6)
No. 4 - Idaho State (18-12, 13-7)
No. 5 - Sacramento State (19-11, 13-7)
No. 6 - Montana State (17-13, 11-9)
No. 7 - Southern Utah (15-16, 9-11)
Sacramento State went 5-7 in the regular season against the other six teams in the Big Sky Tourney.
All games at the Big Sky Tournament can be watched live via Big Sky TV. Live stats are also available.
A HISTORIC SEASON
Sacramento State's outstanding season kept rolling with its 19th victory of the season in the quarterfinals against Idaho State on Wednesday night, matching the program record for wins. The program'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. Sacramento State's win over Montana last weekend in the regular season was its 18th this year, 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. 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.
HORNETS GET REDEMPTION VS. IDAHO STATE
After being eliminated by Idaho State in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament last season and falling twice to the Bengals in the regular season, Sacramento State got redemption with a 73-60 victory in the first round of the 2013 Big Sky Tournament. Kylie Kuhns netted her 52nd career double being leading the team with both 13 points and 14 rebounds. Alle Moreno and Natasha Torgerson both scored in double figures and combined to knock down six 3-pointers. Mallorie Franco chipped in 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting at the free throw line. The Hornets were outrebounded 43-35 but forced 21 turnovers while committing 12 and made 14 free throws as the Bengals attempted just seven.
MAKING THEM EARN IT
Sacramento State has cut down significantly on its fouls during its current three-game winning streak. Opponents (Montana State, Montana and Idaho State) have combined to attempt just 16 free throws in that stretch while making 12. In that same three-game span, the Hornets have gone 36-of-54 at the free throw line. The Hornets were whistled for 21 fouls over the last three games. Sacramento State has been called for single-digit fouls in four games this year, with three coming in the last three games (6 vs. Montana State, 6 vs. Montana, 9 vs. Idaho State).
GOOD POINT GUARDS MAKE GOOD TEAMS
Point guard play is often a defining characteristic of championship teams and the Big Sky Tournament is certainly no exception this year. On the four remaining teams in the league tournament, the three league leaders in assists per game are all represented. Sacramento State's Fantasia Hilliard (6.0 apg), Eastern Washington's Kylie Huerta (4.6 apg) and Montana's Torry Hill (4.7 apg) will all be in action at the point during the semifinals on Friday.
After the Hornets' Big Sky Tournament win over Idaho State in which Kylie Kuhns played a team-high 37 minutes, the senior now leads the Big Sky Conference in total minutes played with 1,064. She is second in the league in minutes per game, averaging 35.5.
KUHNS SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT
Kylie Kuhns is shooting a blistering 60.6 percent (57-of-94) while averaging 16.8 points over her last eight games. Overall this season, Kuhns ranks No. 9 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big Sky in field goal percentage at 54.7 percent (169-of-309). Only Montana State's Rachel Semansky (55.6 percent) 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.
KUHNS SETS BIG SKY CAREER REBS RECORD
Kylie Kuhns has 1,222 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 69 career 10+ rebound games and 52 career double-doubles. Kuhns has led the Hornets in rebounding 88 times in 120 career games.
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 the Big Sky for the 1996-97 season. Hilliard was the league's freshman of the year last season while Moreno claims her second straight honorable mention this season.
KRITSCHER REACHES BIG SKY BLOCKS MARK
Megan Kritscher has 111 blocked shots this season and is the new Big Sky Conference single-season record holder after breaking the previous mark of of 100, set by Eastern Washington'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 eight at Eastern Illinois on Dec. 7. She ranks No. 3 in the NCAA, averaging 3.7 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 180 this year, bettering Baker's previous school record of 160, set during the 1991-92 season. Her 180 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.
RECAP: VS. MONTANA (3/9/2013)
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 March 9 at The Nest. 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.
RECAP: AT MONTANA (12/22/12)
Kylie Kuhns became just the fifth player in Big Sky Conference history to reach 1,000 career rebounds, but the Sacramento State women's basketball team shot just 25.6 percent from the field and lost, 82-55, at Montana on Dec. 22 at Dahlberg Arena. Kuhn' fourth rebound in the game gave the Salem, Ore., native 1,000 career boards. The senior had 13 total versus the Lady Griz. The Hornets started out hot against Montana. Sacramento State led by as much as six points at 13-7 with 16:10 left in the first half but the Lady Griz responded with a 15-2 run over the next six minutes to take a 22-15 lead and never trailed again. Fantasia Hilliard shined for the Hornets with 14 first-half points before finishing with a season-high 20 points. Kuhns had her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. No other Hornet scored more than five points. Alle Moreno tied her career-high with nine rebounds. Montana had nine players score five-or-more points, led by Katie Baker's 12. Baker, Alyssa Smith and Carly Selvig each had a team-high nine rebounds.
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 11.0 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 69 career games and 20 of 30 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 52 career double-doubles and 16 this season after tallying 13 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday quarterfinals win over Idaho State. Kuhns has posted a double-double in three straight games, all wins for the Hornets. 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 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 17.0 assists per game. Point guard Fantasia Hilliard leads the conference, individually, and ranks No. 19 in the NCAA with 6.0 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 180 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 6.0 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 3.7 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-4th), Se'nyce Parrish (2.3, T-4th) 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 91st consecutive start and the 93rd overall on Friday afternoon versus Montana. 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 61 straight games, every contest since arriving on campus. Junior Alle Moreno is just behind with 60 straight starts. Se'nyce Parrish is now a fixture in the lineup and has made 28 consecutive starts this season.