SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State women's basketball team (11-1, 3-0 Big Sky) closes its season-long four game home stand at 2 p.m. Saturday hosting Southern Utah (7-4, 1-1 Big Sky).
Saturday will be Pack The House day in The Nest, including Sport Chalet Kids Day. All fans in attendance will receive team autograph posters and all kids age 5-12 will receive free admission and can take part in the Pepsi Kids Clinic with Hornet players following the contest. The team will also sign autographs after the clinic and the first 100 kids taking part in the clinic will receive a free souvenir basketball.
The Hornets are coming off a 104-79 victory over Northern Arizona on Friday in which the team outscored the Lumberjacks 61-36 in the second half. Sacramento State is 8-0 at home this season, outscoring its opposition by an average of 10.1 points on its home floor. After Saturday the squad will have just six remaining regular season home contests, however, with 10 Big Sky games on the road.
Sacramento State is ranked No. 32 in all of NCAA Div. I in RPI, ahead of 315 schools, and is No. 13 in the CollegeInsider.com Women's Mid-Major Top 25...The Hornets lead NCAA Div. I in three-point makes per game (14.7), steals per game (16.7), and turnover margin (+11.00) and are third in points per game (94.2)....Hallie Gennett ranks 5th in the NCAA in 3-pointers and Fantasia Hilliard ranks 6th in assists, while Takara Burse and Andrea Chenier are tied for 13th in the country in steals per game...Sacramento State's 11-1 record is the best start to a season in program history while its current nine-game winning streak has also broken the program record....Southern Utah, which is third in the BSC with 73 points per game and leads in free throw pct (.751) and opponent 3-point pct. (.288), will be playing for the first time in nine days.
All Big Sky games have a free live video stream available at WatchBigSky.com. This week's games will also stream live on HornetSports.com/Radio with Nate Goodyear providing the play-by-play call. Live stats are available above and for more content and game updates like Sacramento State Athletics on facebook and follow @HornetSports and #BigSkyWBB on twitter.
The Nation's Best
Sacramento State leads all of NCAA Div. I (343 Teams) with 14.7 three-pointers made per game, 16.7 steals per game, and an 11.00 turnover margin. The Hornets are averaging 3.7 more 3-pointers and 3.4 more steals than any other team in the nation. The squad also ranks third in the NCAA with 93.4 points per game, is fifth in assists per game (20.4), and seventh in assist to turnover ratio (1.39). Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in all of those categories as well as offensive rebounds (18.9 ORPG).
The Hornets rank No. 32 in the official NCAA RPI, the highest the program has ever ranked and the highest in the Big Sky since Montana reached No. 12 in 2006-07. Sacramento State ranks ahead of 315 other NCAA Div. I programs, including No. 7-ranked Baylor (33 in RPI), which is 13-1, and eight Pac-12 teams, including both Oregon and Oregon State. The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) takes into account winning percentage, opponents' winning percentage, and opponents' opponents' winning percentage. Sacramento State ranks highly based on its 11-1 record but also its strength of schedule, having faced many strong opponents in non-conference.
With nine straight victories Sacramento State has established a new program-record winning streak, surpassing the seven-game winning streak recorded by the 2009-10 squad.
The Hornets' 11-1 record is the best start to a season in program history, surpassing the 8-1 start of the 1976-77 team. The 2013-14 squad also won more non-conference games than any year in the Div. I era and equaled the most since the 1982-83 squad was 8-5 in non-conference play.
Rank and File
Behind an 11-1 record and eye popping stats the Hornets have earned a No. 13 ranking in the latest CollegeInsider.com Women's Mid-Major Top 25 poll, moving up from No. 18 last week. The Big Sky is one of 23 conferences classified as Mid-Major along with many western conferences including the West Coast Conference (WCC), the Big West Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Hornets are 8-0 this season against other Mid-Major schools and also have two wins against Mountain West Schools (High-Major) and one against the Pac-12 (Major).
Dishing and Scoring
Junior point guard Fantasia Hilliard was named Big Sky Player of the Week last week after leading the Hornets to two wins while averaging 19.0 points and 8.5 assists. For the season she ranks fifth in the NCAA with 7.6 assists per game and has recorded four games with double-digit assists. She equaled her career-high of 12 assists against Montana State and now sits in second place on Sacramento State's career assist leaderboard with 422 career helpers. Hilliard totaled 184 assists last season, easily bettering Heather Baker's previous single-season school record of 160 set during the 1991-92 season, and she should break Baker's career record of 453 assists during the 2013-14 season. Hilliard has also picked up her scoring this season and ranks second on the team with 13.4 points per game while leading the squad with three double-doubles. Over the last six games she is shooting 50.6% from the field with 16.9 points and 7.4 assists per game.
To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn
Over the last three seasons Sacramento State improved its turnover margin from -3.1 to +1.8 to +3.8, and this season that number has skyrocketed. Through 12 games the Hornets lead the NCAA at +11.00 in turnover margin, leading the Big Sky by 6.7. The margin has enabled the Hornets to attempt 13.9 more shots per game than their opponents, and the squad is +155 this year in points off turnovers (308-153). The team has scored 27.2 % of its total points off of opponent giveaways this season with a season-best 48-17 edge against NAU and a 37-7 advantage at UC Davis. Sacramento State also leads the Big Sky and is seventh in the nation in assist to turnover ratio (1.39).
Historic three-point shooting has been a catalyst to the Hornets early success, as the team has led the nation in 3-pointers made per game throughout the 2013-14 season. The squad has thrice broken the single-game program record in 3-point makes, hitting 17 threes against Cal State Northridge, 18 against San Diego State, and 21 against UC Irvine. The Hornets also re-broke the Big Sky record with 21 3-point makes and 55 3-point attempts against UC Irvine. Sacramento State is shooting 34.0% from three-point range and has had 10 different players make at least one three, including eight with 12 or more three-point makes already this season. The Hornets have made at least 11 three-pointers in every game and have scored 528 of 1,131 total points this season on 3-pointers, as 176 made long balls have accounted for 46.7% of the team's points while just 37.1% of the points have come on 2-point shots.
While lighting up the scoreboard from beyond the arc on the offensive end, the Hornets have also shut down opponent 3-point tries on the defensive end. The Hornets have a .317 opponent three-point percentage and have allowed just 59 opponent three's through 12 games. The Hornets have made 117 more three-pointers than their opposition (176-59) and have outscored opponents 528-177 overall from beyond the arc.
Sacramento State leads the NCAA with 16.8 steals per game and has had more steals than its opponent in all but one game this season. The team has also recorded double-digit steals in all but one game this year and broke the single-game program record with 26 steals against San Diego State. For the season the Hornets are +113 in steal margin for (201-88) and as a result have also had fewer turnovers than their opponent in every game this year.
Sacramento State has used 10 different starting lineups in 12 games this season, having used its first repeat lineup last Thursday. The starters for each game are picked from a statistical formula using the individual totals from the previous game, and with 10 different players seeing starts this season the combinations are, barring injury, almost endless. No Hornet has started every game this year as Alle Moreno, Fantasia Hilliard, and Takara Burse lead with 10 starts apiece.
Freshman Hallie Gennett has been among the best three-point shooters in the nation in just her rookie season. She ranks fifth in the NCAA and leads the Big Sky with 3.42 three-point makes per game, including six games making five of more 3-point shots. The bulk of Gennett's threes have come in just those six games, as she hit 35 threes in those games and just six threes in the Hornets' six other games. Of her 52 made field goals on the season, 41 have been 3-pointers, while 108 of her 129 field goal attempts (83.7%) have come from beyond the arc, where she is shooting 38.0% on the season.
Scouting Southern Utah (7-4, 1-1 Big Sky)
Southern Utah is the third highest scoring team in the Big Sky with 73.0 points per game and leads the conference in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 28.8% from long range, and free throw percentage (.751). The Thunderbirds opened conference play with a win at Northern Colorado then took a 3-point loss last Thursday at North Dakota. Saturday's contest will be the first game in nine days for the T-Birds, who also faced Utah Valley in non-conference play and had a 74-63 win. Southern Utah has been led this season by senior Carli Moreland, who leads the team with 11.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, while sophomore Lori Parkinson averages 11.3 points and 6.9 boards.