SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State redshirt senior guard Emily Easom hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds left and the Hornets forced two missed shots on the defensive end to complete a 97-96 victory over Cal Poly on Sunday in The Nest.
Playing in her first official home game as a Hornet, Easom drained her fifth 3-pointer of the game to erase a two-point Hornet deficit, making the shot on a designed play off an inbounds with an assist from junior Maranne Johnson.
"On that last shot, obviously I couldn't have gotten it off without that one last pass that we've been working on all season," Easom said. "Maranne hit me with it and I knew I had to shoot it; coach is always telling all of us to shoot it, and its not that often you get a coach that is saying that so its pretty awesome. The atmosphere today was pretty unbelievable and those fans ride with us and have such good energy and that really pushes us."
In a game with 14 lead changes, Sacramento State (1-1) forced 34 turnovers and hit 19 3-pointers to win despite Cal Poly (0-2) shooting 62.3% from the field. After just five made threes in the season opener at San Francisco on Friday, the Hornets made six 3-pointers just in the first quarter on Sunday and Easom and Johnson both hit five threes to lead the charge on Sunday.
The Hornets led throughout the fourth quarter, going up by as many as eight points, but Cal Poly came storming back with a 9-3 run to take a one-point lead with one minute and five seconds remaining in regulation time. After a Hornet turnover the Mustangs earned two free throws with 29 seconds left, but Lynn Leaupepe made just one of the two to put Cal Poly ahead 96-94.
Hornet coach Bunky Harkleroad called timeout with 15 seconds left, and off the inbounds in front of the Hornet bench Johnson found Easom for the go-ahead shot. Cal Poly's Gabby Grupalo missed a three with six seconds left and a put-back attempt by Hannah Gilbert also missed. The Hornets got the rebound out of bounds with just under two seconds remaining and killed off the rest of the clock on a long inbounds pass.
"I thought (Cal Poly) did a really great job getting their best players the basketball," Harkleroad said. "I was proud of how our team stuck together; there were definitely some frustrating times and for us to have so many new people we kept our composure and our poise pretty well. Still half of our senior class is out and I thought our new players stepped in and did a great job."
Sacramento State led for just over 30 minutes of the game but its biggest lead was just nine points. The much taller Cal Poly team shot lights out throughout the afternoon, scoring 64 of its 96 points in the paint, but the Hornets shot 39.6% overall and 19-of-51 (37.3%) from 3-point range while the Mustangs were just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Sacramento State had a game-high nine-point lead at 23-14 at the 2:20 mark of the first quarter but the Mustangs had a 15-3 run to end the first quarter and begin the second. Cal Poly took a game high lead of 36-31 before a 13-0 Hornet run over three and a half minutes put the home team back up by eight. The Hornets led 47-44 at the half and maintained an advantage for most of the second half.
Johnson finished with a team-high 19 points and also led with five rebounds and five steals with three assists shooting 5-of-9 (55.6%) from 3-point range. Senior Ashlyn Crenshaw shot 8-of-12 (66.7 %) for the game and tallied 18 points, four assists, and three steals while Easom finished with 17 points and freshman Tiara Scott had 13 points, four steals, and three assists.
Lynn Leaupepe (31 points, six assists), her twin sister Dynn Leaupepe (19 points, four steals) and Gilbert (29 points, 17 rebounds) combined to score 79 of Cal Poly's 96 points. Amanda Lovely chipped in 13 rebounds and four assists to lead the visitors.
Cal Poly had a 55-28 rebounding advantage but the Hornets were 40-18 in points off turnovers, totaling 22 steals while forcing 34 giveaways. The Mustangs were 19-of-23 from the free throw line but lost by one point after the late miss kept their lead at just two.
The Hornets forced 34 Cal Poly turnovers after creating 35 turnovers in the game at Cal Poly last season. The Mustangs won that meeting 97-72, however, and had won seven straight matchups between the teams since Sacramento State's last win over Cal Poly in 1995.
Sacramento State plays another home game at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday in The Nest hosting Nevada. The Wolf Pack are also 1-1 after a 72-59 home win over Portland on Sunday.