SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With its regular season opener jus two weeks from Friday, the Sacramento State women's basketball team plays its first of two exhibition games hosting Holy Names at 2:05 p.m. Sunday in The Nest.
Tickets for Sunday's game will be just $5 for all fans. Sacramento State students receive free admission to all Hornet home games with a valid OneCard.
"I think we're ready, but it will be our first real game working together," Sacramento State junior guard Maranne Johnson said. "I feel like we've been pushing each other in practice and it should ride into the game. Come Sunday I think we'll be ready."
The Hornets have been practicing five days a week since the beginning of October. Sacramento State has its most veteran team under fourth-year coach Bunky Harkleroad with six seniors and five juniors, but the squad also has six newcomers learning to play in Sacramento State's unique high tempo style.
Also, despite having 17 players on the roster (16 of which are eligible to play this season), the team may have as few as 11 dressed players for the first exhibition game. Battling some preseason and offseason injuries, the depth of the Sacramento State roster will be tested early, making the two exhibition games all the more important.
Picked to finish seventh by the coaches and the media in the Big Sky preseason polls, the Hornets look to build off a strong finish last year to get off to a good start in 2016-17. The team won seven of its last nine games before narrowly falling to Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals last season and won a Big Sky Tournament game for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
For the third consecutive season Sacramento State led NCAA Div. I in 3-pointers made and steals per game. The team finished second in the nation, behind only national champion UConn, scoring a program-record 87.5 points per game, and also led Div. I in offensive rebounds and turnovers forced per game.
Sacramento State returns three starters and 10 letter winners but lost five players from the 2015-16 squad. Among them was senior Adella Randle-El, who led the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals and was an all-Big Sky first team selection. Sacramento State also lost its top shot blocker in senior Sydonia Daniels but returns Johnson, top 3-point shooter Brianna Burgos, and all-Big Sky selection Gretchen Harrigan among its 11 returning players.
Holy Names, an NCAA Div. II school located in Oakland, went 8-20 last season and was picked to finish 11th out of 14 teams in the Pacific West preseason poll this year. The Hawks return leading scorer and all-PacWest honorable mention selection guard Garysha Youngblood, who led the team with 10.7 points and 2.3 assists per game last year.
Holy Names played exhibition games against two NCAA Div. I teams last season, losing 110-41 at San Jose State and 77-33 at San Francisco. The team averaged just 55.4 points per game last year shooting only 34.1% from the field. The Hawks also averaged 18 turnovers per game last season.
Sacramento State's second and final exhibition game will be a week from Sunday, Nov. 6, hosting San Francisco State. The regular season opener comes Friday, Nov. 11, at San Francisco.