SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (3-5) plays its second consecutive game against a Pac-12 opponent and will face No. 24 California (7-0) in Haas Pavilion for the third straight year Thursday night at 7 p.m.
The Starting Five
- Sacramento State played in front of a near capacity crowd against USC on Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader with the Hornet men. The crowd was the biggest in the four-year tenure of coach Bunky Harkleroad as the Hornets hosted a Pac-12 team for the second straight season.
- Junior guard Maranne Johnson poured in a career-high 37 points last Tuesday vs. Stanislaus State, the ninth highest single game scoring total in program history. She scored 27 points just in the first half and made eight 3-pointers, tying for the 14th highest scoring total in NCAA Div. I this season.
- Sacramento State enters the week ranked second in the nation with 12.3 made 3-pointers per game, are third scoring 91.6 points per game, and rank sixth with 13.8 steals per game. The squad is also 12th in turnovers forced, 21st in offensive rebounds, and 28th in turnover margin.
- The Hornets are playing Cal for the third consecutive season and are facing multiple Pac-12 opponents for the fourth straight year. The Golden Bears have been ranked in each meeting, sitting at No. 10 when the teams met in 2014 and No. 17 last year when the teams played in the Cal Classic.
- California is ranked for the first time this season at No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Golden Bears have tied for the best start in program history at 7-0 and rank fourth in Div. I shooting 50%. In a 117-99 Cal win last year the Hornets attempted an NCAA record 80 3-pointers, making 20.
Scouting #24 California (7-0)
Having tied for the best start to a season in program history, California is ranked for the first time this year at No. 24 in the Dec. 5 USA Today Coaches Poll. The Bears are +17.7 in scoring margin this season, having won by at least 15 points in six games and by 20 or more points in four straight contests. Cal is shooting an even 50.0% this year, the fourth best field goal percentage in NCAA Div. I, and is one of just 19 remaining unbeaten teams in the nation. Sophomore Asha Thomas is the best 3-point shooter in Div. I at 17-of-27 (63%) from long range and Kristine Anigwe averages 19.4 points and 8.9 rebounds. She scored 43 points against the Hornets last year in a 117-99 win when the Hornets obliterated the NCAA record with 80 3-point attempts. The Hornets are playing at Cal for the third straight season; the Bears were ranked #10 in the 2014 meeting and #17 last year.
Pac The Nest
Sacramento State played in front of an announced crowd of 954 fans against USC on Saturday, the largest crowd in the four-year tenure of head coach Bunky Harkleroad. In the second game of a doubleheader with the Hornet men, a near capacity crowd was on hand as the Hornets hosted a Pac-12 team for the second consecutive season and the sixth time in program history. The Hornets hosted No. 19 UCLA in The Nest last season and will be playing multiple Pac-12 teams for the fourth straight season with Thursday's contest at Cal. The Hornets have three wins all-time against Pac-12 teams but are now 0-6 all-time hosting Pac-12 schools. Sacramento State last beat a Pac-12 team in 2013 with a 97-85 win at Oregon after topping Oregon State in 2012.
The Hornets will be playing at Cal for the third consecutive season, marking the longest such streak in program history against any non-conference opponent. California has been nationally ranked in all three meetings (No. 10 in 2014, No. 17 in 2015) and the Bears have topped 100 points in each of the last two years while the Hornets finished in the 90s with a scoring margin in the teens (13 in 2014, 18 in 2015). The teams were not guaranteed to meet last year in the Cal Classic but both lost on the first day of the tournament to meet on the second.
Junior guard Maranne Johnson poured in a career-high 37 points last Tuesday vs. Stanislaus State, the ninth highest single game scoring total in program history. She was unstoppable right from the start, shooting 6-of-8 for 16 points in just the first quarter and totaling 27 in the first half. She finished with eight made 3-pointers, one shy of the program record, and was just eight points behind the program scoring record of 45, set by All-American Kristy Ryan in 1993. Her point total was the most for a Hornet since 2012 and tied for the 14th most points scored by an NCAA Div. I player this season. She came back with 15 points on Saturday vs. USC and ranks sixth in Div. I with 3.75 made threes per game.
Dominating the Glass
Senior forward Margaret Huntington has totaled 66 rebounds in her last five games. The stretch includes a pair of 17-rebound games, against New Mexico State and Hofstra, as well as a 13-rebound performance. She is one of just four NCAA Div. I players that has totaled 17 or more rebounds in two games this year. That total was one shy of her career high of 18 boards. Her 83 total rebounds this season lead the Big Sky and rank 18th in NCAA Div. I. She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bank of Hawaii Classic.
Senior guard Brianna Burgos made her season debut on Tuesday, playing for the first time since suffering a knee injury in February. She played four minutes against Stanislaus State after missing the last four Hornet games last season and the first six this year. Burgos was one of just six players named to the Preseason all-Big Sky Women's Basketball team leading up to this season after she led the Big Sky and ranked 8th in NCAA Div. I with 3.19 3-pointers made per game last year. She was the top returning scorer for the Hornets after averaging 14.4 points per game last year. She did not play vs. USC on Saturday.
Best Day From Three
In the win over Hofstra, Sacramento State put together arguably its best 3-point shooting performance in four seasons under coach Bunky Harkleroad. The team's 48.5% 3-point shooting mark was the second best the team has shot in the last four years but was the No. 1 shooting performance in a game in which the team made 10 or more threes. The Hornets finished 16-of-33 from distance against the Pride, knocking down at least three 3-pointers in each quarter. Maranne Johnson hit six while Tiara Scott (3-of-4), Raegen Rohn (3-of-6), and Ashlyn Crenshaw (2-of-3) were the most efficient long-range shooters.
The Hornets rank third in the nation scoring 91.6 points per game this season after finishing second behind only national champion UConn in scoring offense last year. Sacramento State has led the Big Sky in scoring in seven straight seasons and averaged 12.6 more points last year than the second highest scoring team in the league, Montana State. The Hornets have scored at least 90 points in six of eight games this year, including four straight.
Lighting It Up From Long Range
Redshirt senior Emily Easom is 24-of-60 (40%) from 3-point range this season and shot 10-of-20 (50%) from three in two games last week. 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 second on the team with 15.8 points per game this year with 15 or more points scored in six contests, including two straight 20-point games.
Rare Road Game
Sacramento State plays just its second true road game of the season at California on Thursday. The Hornets opened the regular season at San Francisco on Nov. 11 but haven't played a true road game since with five home games and two neutral site games in Hawaii. The team now plays four of its next five games on the road, starting Big Sky Conference play with two road contests to end the calendar year.
The 3-point shot has been as critical as ever in Sacramento State's early season success this year. The Hornets are averaging 18.7 made 3-pointers and 40% shooting from the arc in their three wins against 8.4 3-point makes per game and 25% shooting from long range in the five losses. The team has made at least 16 threes and shot at least 37% from three in each of its wins. The Hornets currently rank second in NCAA Div. I averaging 12.3 made 3-pointers per game after leading the nation in each of the last three seasons.
Turning Over and Over
The Hornets have forced 186 turnovers in eight 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 23.25 so far this year. The Hornets have scored 208 points off those 186 forced turnovers while creating more than 14 more shots per game than their opponents.
In five home games this season the Hornets have averaged 97.2 points per game shooting 42% overall and 37.1% 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.
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 44% field goal shooter for her career and has been even better so far this season, shooting 38-of-71 (53.5%) from the field through eight games. She was 8-of-12 against both Cal Poly and Hofstra and 6-of-7 vs. USC, consistently getting to the basket and finishing in close. She ranks third on the team scoring 11.3 points per game and also paces the team defensively, leading the Big Sky and ranking 37th in NCAA Div. I with 22 steals this year.
As has typically been the case, Sacramento State again played one of the hardest non-conference schedules in the Big Sky. The Hornets have faced two 2015-16 NCAA Tournament teams (San Francisco and New Mexico State), WNIT semifinalist Hofstra, and WBI semifinalist Youngstown State. Before taking on two Pac-12 teams, including No. 24 California. In all the Hornets play 10 games against teams that reached the postseason last year.
The Hornets opened the season missing five players due to injury, and seniors Gretchen Harrigan and Kyhonta Doughty and junior Taylor Brown have still yet to play. Senior Brianna Burgos missed the first six regular season games and Ashlyn Crenshaw missed the first Hornet exhibition game before returning. Burgos and Harrigan were two of the team's top three returning scorers from the 2015-16 season.
Sacramento State has used a different starting lineup in all eight games this season. The starters for each game are typically picked from a statistical formula using the individual totals from the previous game. The team used 22 different starting lineups in 31 games last year with just four lineups used more than once after rolling out 30 starting lineups in 34 games in the 2014-15 season.
Sacramento State is sixth in Div. I averaging 13.8 steals per game this season after again leading the nation with 14.9 steals per game last year. The Hornets have led NCAA Div. I in steals for three consecutive seasons. The Hornets also own the Big Sky record for steals in a game, tallying 30 at Portland State in 2015.
Cleaning the Glass
The Hornets had a season-high 25 offensive rebounds vs. Stanislaus State and are averaging 18 offensive boards per game this year. Last season the squad led NCAA Div. I last season with 20 offensive rebounds per game for the second consecutive year. The team's total of 35 offensive boards at Utah State last year would likely be the NCAA record if the stat had been kept.