SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In the highest scoring game in program and Big Sky history, Sacramento State shot 51% in the second half and forced 17 second-half turnovers to rally for a 110-104 win over Big Sky-leading North Dakota on Thursday night in The Nest.
The 214 combined points broke both the school and Big Sky single-game records, one more point than the Hornets and Fresno State combined to score in 2010. Sacramento State's 110 points also broke the Big Sky record and was a program record for a regulation game, falling just one point shy of the overall record of 111.
"We're very proud of our team and the effort was really there tonight," Sacramento State head coach Bunky Harkleroad said. "North Dakota is a very good basketball team and they are capable of playing slow or fast, but fortunately we were able to play faster and in the second half the momentum swung back in our favor. It was great to play at home in front of our fans and our team fed off that energy tonight. It was a great college basketball environment and I'm really proud of the way we responded."
North Dakota (11-6, 6-2 Big Sky) shot an incredible 74.2% in the first half and 63.2% for the game, scoring 80 of its 104 points in the paint. Sacramento State (12-4, 4-3 Big Sky) trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and was down eight at halftime but was able to turn the tide as the pace overwhelmed UND in the second half.
The Hornets shot just 37.5% in the first half while North Dakota went 23-of-31 from the field with 44 points in the paint. The visitors built an 11-point lead at 35-24 at the 7:44 mark of the opening period before the Hornets came back to take a brief two-point advantage. The game was tied at 49 with less than a minute and a half to play but North Dakota ended the half on a 7-0 run.
North Dakota continued to hold a lead through the first eight minutes of the second half but the Hornets rallied to draw even with 12:14 to play. The game was tied with 7:17 on the clock before the Hornets used an 8-2 run to open up a 94-88 lead. UND got within two points with 3:30 left but the Hornets would lead by at least two possessions for the remainder of the game.
Sacramento State shot 16-of-42 from three-point range while North Dakota attempted only a single 3-point shot in the game - and not until there were 29 seconds left to play. The Hornets also shot 26-of-36 from the free throw line and had a 15-29 edge in turnovers with 15 steals, leading to a 33-16 advantage in points off turnovers.
Junior Fantasia Hilliard posted her fourth double-double of the season with a team-high 22 points and 11 assists, bringing her just three assists shy of the all-time program assist record. Freshman Hallie Gennett led the 3-point barrage with six made long balls and 21 points, while junior Shanti Smith hit five threes and totaled 20 points and junior Takara Burse had 18 points and a game-high five steals. Sophomore Makailah Dyer had a career-high 29 points to lead North Dakota while two players had double-doubles.
"I felt like we needed to refocus and have another game to get us going so it was a really good win for us," said Hilliard after her team broke a three-game losing streak. "In past games we slowed down so we weren't able to get up a lot of shots, and in this game we wanted the pace and were able to get more opportunities and shoot the shots that we're used to taking."
Sacramento State returns to the court at 2 p.m. Saturday hosting Northern Colorado. The Bears improved to 10-7 overall and 4-4 in the Big Sky with an 86-82 overtime win on Thursday at Northern Arizona.