SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (1-4) opens a season-long tying three game homestand facing Hofstra (3-1) at 2:05 p.m. Friday in The Nest.
The Starting Five
- Senior Margaret Huntington totaled 30 rebounds in two games in Hawaii with 17 rebounds vs. New Mexico State. She leads the Big Sky and ranks 24th in NCAA Div. I with 47 total boards this year and was named to the all-tournament team for the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.
- In two home games this season the Hornets have averaged 96.0 points per game shooting 41.0% overall and 32.6% from 3-point range, but in three away games (one road game and two neutral site games) the Hornets scored just 87.3 points shooting 38.5% overall and 24.1% from the arc.
- The Hornets have forced 137 turnovers in five games, creating at least 30 opponent giveaways in three games. Sacramento State has forced 27.4 turnovers per game and is +9 in turnover margin this year after leading NCAA Div. I with 24.16 turnovers forced per game last season.
- Hofstra is the second of three straight first-time opponents for the Hornets. After Stanislaus State, the Hornets have faced every remaining regular season opponent in at least the last two seasons. After the USC game, the team's 21 remaining games will be against team it faced just last year.
- A member of the Colonial Athletic Association located in Hempstead, N.Y., Hofstra has two straight 20-win seasons and won three games in the WNIT last year to reach the quarterfinals. Though the Pride have just 12 players on the roster, they come from seven different countries.
Scouting Hofstra (3-1)
Hofstra, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association located in Hempstead, N.Y., has two straight 20-win seasons and won three games in the WNIT last year to reach the quarterfinals. The team returned four of its late-season starters including junior forward Ashunae Durant, who was named to the Preseason All-CAA First Team after earning second-team all-conference honors last year when she led the league with 11 double-doubles. The Pride, who have players from seven different countries despite just 12 on the roster, are coming to the west coast for the first time since playing at Gonzaga and Eastern Washington in 2011. The game will be the first meeting between Sacramento State and Hofstra and will be just the fourth game in Hornet program history against a team from New York, with the only previous games vs. Fordham once and Army twice.
Cleaning the Glass
Senior forward Margaret Huntington totaled 30 rebounds in two games last week in Hawaii, including 17 boards vs. New Mexico State. That total was one shy of her career high and tied for the12th most rebounds an NCAA Div. I player has had this season. The two huge rebounding games came after she scored a career-high 19 points shooting 9-of-12 vs. Nevada. She is averaging a double-double with 10.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while shooting 65% from the field over her last three contests. Her 47 total rebounds this season lead the Big Sky and rank 24th in NCAA Div. I and Huntington now ranks seventh in program history with 603 career rebounds. She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bank of Hawaii Classic.
Happy to be Home
Sacramento State plays its next three games at home and will certainly be happy to be back in The Nest. In two home games this season the Hornets have averaged 96.0 points per game shooting 41.0% overall and 32.6% from 3-point range. In three away games (one road game and two neutral site games) the Hornets have averaged just 87.3 points while shooting 38.5% overall and 24.1% from the arc. The team has also averaged 22.0 steals per game at home compared to 13.7 steals per contest outside of The Nest.
The game vs. Hofstra will be the second of three straight games for the Hornets against opponents the program has never before faced. Youngstown State was the first such opponent on Sunday and Stanislaus State will be the third next Tuesday. After the three game stretch, the Hornets have faced every remaining regular season opponent in at least the last two seasons. Sacramento State faced USC two years ago while the 21 remaining games will be against teams it played just last year.
Turning Over and Over
The Hornets have forced 137 turnovers in five games, creating at least 30 opponent giveaways in three games and 24 in another. Sacramento State led NCAA Div. I with 24.16 turnovers forced per game last season and is averaging three more forced turnovers per game so far this season. The Hornets have scored 139 points off those 137 forced turnovers, outscoring the opposition 139-105 in that category while taking 16 more shots per game than their opponents.
Redshirt senior Emily Easom has played three seasons of Big Sky basketball but just made her Hornet debut this year. A former two-time all-Big Sky selection at Portland State, Easom transferred to Sacramento State after three seasons as a Viking. After having to redshirt last year, Easom is leading the Hornets with 14.6 points per game this year with 15 or more points scored in four of five games. She made five 3-pointers including the winning shot with 12 seconds left against Cal Poly and leads the team shooting 13-of-37 (35.1%) from 3-point range.
Seniors Brianna Burgos and Gretchen Harrigan, two of the team's top three returning scorers from last season, both have not played yet this season due to injury. Burgos missed the last four games of the 2015-16 with a knee injury and is still working her way back while Harrigan was injured in the preseason. Senior forward Kyhonta Doughty and junior guard Taylor Brown are also sidelined with injuries as half of the team's senior class is on the sidelines.
Filling the Void
Sacramento State's five eligible newcomers this season have been pressed into action with the team missing four injured returners and have had strong starts to their Hornet careers. Freshman Tiara Scott is averaging 11.4 points and 2.4 assists per game and freshman Quayonna Harris has chipped in 6.4 points per game. Freshman Kennedy Nicholas and junior transfer Alexia Mefi have helped fill Doughty's role in the post, with Nicholas leading the team with five blocked shots and averaging 3.4 rebounds, and Dajhae Mullins has contributed 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest shooting 44.1%.
Throughout her career senior Ashlyn Crenshaw has been one of the best shooting guards in the Big Sky in terms of field goal percentage. She is a 42% field goal shooter for her career and has been even better so far this season, shooting 22-of-44 (50%) from the field through five games. She was 5-for-7 at San Francisco and 8-of-12 against Cal Poly, consistently getting to the basket and finishing in close. She ranks fourth on the team scoring 10.4 points and leads the Big Sky and ranks 13th in NCAA Div. I with 16 steals this year.
Sacramento State will be playing its third straight game against a team that played in the postseason last year. Hofstra made the semifinals of the WNIT last year while New Mexico State was in the NCAA Tournament and Youngstown State reached the semifinals of the WBI. The Hornets also opened the year against NCAA Tournament team San Francisco and will face multiple Pac-12 teams for the fourth straight year, hosting USC and playing at California, which received votes in the preseason polls. In all the Hornets will play 10 games against teams that reached the postseason last year.
A Veteran Squad
The Sacramento State roster has 20 total years of experience playing under coach Bunky Harkleroad, a far cry from the experience the team had through Harkleroad's first three seasons leading the program. The six-member senior class and the five-member junior class are both the biggest the team has had in the last four years.
The Nation's Best
For the third consecutive season Sacramento State led NCAA Div. I in 3-pointers made (12.5) and steals (14.9) per game last year. 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 with 20 offensive rebounds per game and 24.16 turnovers forced per game and were second with a 9.68 turnover margin.
Staying on 17
Sacramento State has an unprecedented 17 players on its 2016-17 roster. Sophomore Hannah Friend has to redshirt after transferring from Delaware, but the other 16 players could all see action this season. Injuries may prevent that from happening, but, in theory, the team could have three full lines of players to sub in and out should they decide to do so. Fifteen Hornets saw action last season, with 14 playing in almost every game in which they here healthy.
Sacramento State has 81 steals in five games after again leading NCAA Div. I averaging 14.9 steals per game last year. The Hornets have led NCAA Div. I in steals for three consecutive seasons and averaged 2.3 more steals per game than the second place school in the nation, Santa Clara, last year. The Hornets also own the Big Sky record for steals in a game, tallying 30 at Portland State in 2015.
Preseason All-Big Sky
Senior guard Brianna Burgos was one of just six players named to the Preseason all-Big Sky Women's Basketball team. Last season Burgos led the Big Sky and ranked 8th in NCAA Div. I with 3.19 3-pointers made per game while tying the single season program record with 86 made 3-pointers, doing so despite missing the last four games of the season due to injury. Burgos shot 36.1% from 3-point range last season and is a career 36.8% shooter from long range. Last season she also tied the program record with nine made 3-pointers in a game, and she sits eighth in program history with 143 made 3-pointers in her career.
Pac The Nest
For the second consecutive season Sacramento State will host a Pac-12 team in The Nest when the team faces USC on Dec. 3. The Hornets hosted No. 19 UCLA in The Nest last season and will be playing multiple Pac-12 teams for the fourth straight season, playing at Cal for the third straight year. The Hornets have three wins all-time against Pac-12 teams but are 0-4 all-time hosting Pac-12 schools.
Junior guard Maranne Johnson had a fantastic end to her sophomore season, scoring at least 15 points in eight of the last 11 games last year, and scored a team season-high 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range in the win over Cal Poly. She scored a career-high 31 points and 25 points in the team's two Big Sky Tournament games last year and finished the year with 22 double-digit scoring games and eight 20-point games. She ranked fourth in the Big Sky averaging 2.4 steals per game and sixth in the league making 79 three-pointers, the fourth most in a season in program history. Last year she was named Big Sky Player of the Week twice and was on the all-tournament team for the Cal Classic.
All The Threes
Sacramento State knocked down 25 threes in two games last season, surpassing the previous NCAA Div. I record of 22 set by Florida Gulf Coast in 2013. The team shot a season best 25-of-55 (45.5%) from beyond the arc at Portland State and were 38.5% at Montana State. Sacramento State owns every Div. I record for single-game and season 3-point makes and attempts. Last season the Hornets hit 20 or more 3-pointers four times while the rest of NCAA Div. I had one such game (Long Beach State).