IRVINE, Calif. – After scoring just 61 points and trailing UC Irvine by one with under five minutes left in regulation time, Sacramento State scored 17 points over the last 4:52 of the fourth quarter to pull out a 78-70 win on Saturday in Irvine.
Sacramento State (4-6) won a defensive struggle against the Anteaters after scoring a Big Sky record 127 points and winning by 48 when the teams met last season in Sacramento. Playing just its second home game of the season, UC Irvine (1-8) held the Hornets in check for most of the day and forced 20 turnovers but was outscored 17-8 after taking a 62-61 lead with five minutes to play.
After a timeout at the 4:55 mark, senior Ashlyn Crenshaw completed a 3-point play, senior Margaret Huntington made a layup, and senior Maranne Johnson hit a 3-pointer as the Hornets had an 8-2 run over less than a minute to take a 69-64 lead. The Hornet lead was just four points with 1:45 left, but the squad got a defensive stop before Johnson made a layup and the visitors hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 47 seconds to earn the win.
Johnson made six 3-pointers in the game and finished with 24 points, her third game with 20 or more points in the last five contests. Senior Emily Easom made a trio of threes and tallied 18 points and six rebounds and Alexia Mefi was perfect in the field and at the line for 10 points and three rebounds.
The late Hornet run was fueled in part by UC Irvine's top two scorers in the game, forwards Sabrina Engelstad and Shereen Southerland, both fouling out in the final minutes. Engelstad was 8-of-13 with 18 points before fouling out with 2:18 left and Southerland was 7-of-11 with 15 points but picked up her fifth foul just 14 seconds later. UC Irvine did not make another field goal after the pair fouled out.
Sacramento State shot 10-of-19 (53%) in the fourth quarter after shooting 18-of-51 (35%) over the first three quarters. Johnson had nine of the team's 27 points in the fourth while Huntington scored all six of her points in the final period.
Despite the shooting struggles the Hornets led for most of the game behind a fantastic effort on the glass, outrebounding UC Irvine 50-35 with 20 offensive rebounds. Crenshaw had a career-high nine rebounds to lead the way while Huntington had eight and junior Justyce Dawson had a career-best six boards to go with five assists.
The Hornets led for entire first half, jumping out to an early 22-11 lead but leading just 35-29 at halftime. UC Irvine opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run to tie the game and took its first lead at 38-37. Sacramento State moved back ahead by a 51-47 edge going to the fourth quarter before the lead changed four times over the final period, though the Anteaters never went ahead by more than one point.
Sacramento State secured its first road win of the season in just its third true road game. The Hornets break for finals before playing their final non-conference game hosting rival UC Davis next Sunday, Dec. 18, at 2:05 p.m. in The Nest.