SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Winners of three of the last four meetings between the Causeway rivals, Sacramento State (4-6) concludes non-conference play with its annual matchup with UC Davis (6-3) hosting the Aggies at 2:05 p.m. Sunday in The Nest.
The Starting Five
- Sacramento State has won three of its last four meetings with Causeway rival UC Davis, including a 92-77 win over the Aggies in Davis last season. The Hornets had an 84-78 win in Davis in 2013 and outlasted the Aggies 66-65 in overtime in The Nest in 2012. UC Davis won the 2014 game, 90-82.
- 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. The team is averaging 15 made 3-pointers per game and 14.6 steals per game at home with a +7.4 turnover margin while winning three home games.
- Hornet junior guard Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky and ranks third in NCAA Div. I with 38 made 3-pointers this season. She has made five or more 3-pointers in four games and leads the team scoring 16.4 points per game. She is also tied for the Big Sky lead with 2.4 steals per game.
- Sacramento State once again leads NCAA Div. I with 12.0 made 3-pointers per game. The Hornets are also fifth scoring 88.4 points per game, ninth with 18 offensive rebounds per game, and 14th with 22.60 turnovers forced per game. The team also ranks 19th with 12.2 steals per game.
- UC Davis is 6-3 with two of its three losses coming against nationally ranked Pac-12 teams. The Aggies average just 14.3 turnovers per game, the fewest in the Big West, and also lead the league in field goal percentage (43%) while Dani Nafekh is 10th in Div. I shooting 52% (23-of-44) from three.
Scouting UC Davis (6-3)
UC Davis is 6-3 and two of its three losses came against nationally ranked Pac-12 teams, including a 93-52 loss on Wednesday at No. 15 Oregon State. The Aggies were also defeated at home by Hofstra, a team the Hornets beat in The Nest, but also have several quality wins, including victories over Saint Mary's, San Diego State, Montana State, and Pacific. UC Davis averages just 14.3 turnovers per game, the fewest in the Big West, and also leads the league in both field goal percentage (.429) and field goal percentage defense (.376). UC Davis is -7.3 in rebounding margin this season and averages just 5.9 steals per game. Junior Dani Nafekh is shooting 23-of-44 (52.3%) from 3-point range, 10th best in Div. I, and averaging 13.7 points per game and sophomore Morgan Bertsch leads the team with 16.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game shooting 50.9%.
In a tough shooting game at UC Irvine, Sacramento State scored 17 points over the last five minutes to pull out a win after scoring just 61 points through the first 35 minutes of the game. The Hornets outscored the Anteaters 17-8 over the last 4:52 to turn a 62-61 deficit into a 78-70 win. Sacramento State shot 5-of-8 (62.5%) over the last five minutes, made six free throws, and outrebounds the Anteaters 7-4 to close the game out.
Sacramento State has won three of its last four meetings with Causeway rival UC Davis, including a 92-77 win over the Aggies in Davis last season. The Hornets turned a game that had 10 ties and 17 lead changes into a runaway in the end, leading by as many as 17 points in the final minutes. Sacramento State shot a then season-best 41.8% from the field and forced 27 turnovers with just seven of their own, outscoring the Aggies 33-2 in points off turnovers. Prior to the 15-point Hornet win last season the teams had four straight meetings decided by less than 10 points. The Hornets had an 84-78 win in Davis in 2013 and outlasted the Aggies 66-65 in overtime in The Nest in 2012.
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. The team is averaging 15 made 3-pointers per game and 14.6 steals per game at home with a +7.4 turnover margin. By comparison, in five away games (three road games and two neutral site games) the Hornets have averaged just 79.6 points while shooting 34.8% overall and 23.4% from the arc.
Back on Top
Sacramento State once again leads NCAA Div. I with 12.0 made 3-pointers per game. The team has led the nation in that category for three straight years and is back on top again this week for the first time this season. The Hornets finished the season at 12.5 made 3-pointers per game in each of the last two years after averaging 12.4 in the 2013-14 season.
Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky and ranks third in NCAA Div. I with 38 made 3-pointers this season. She made a career-high eight 3-pointers against Stanislaus State, scoring 37 points for the ninth highest single game scoring total in program history, and has hit six threes in two games this season and five in another. Johnson leads the team and ranks sixth in the Big Sky scoring 16.4 points per game and is tied with teammate Ashlyn Crenshaw for the Big Sky lead with 2.4 steals per game. In her third Hornet season Johnson already ranks fourth in program history in career steals and seventh in made 3-pointers.
The Hornets have three straight wins over UC Irvine after picking up a 78-70 road win in Irvine last Saturday. That win came Sacramento State posted a historic 126-78 victory over the Anteaters in The Nest last season. Sacramento State broke the Big Sky scoring record in the win and the 48-point margin of victory was the largest in program history against a Div. I team. Sacramento State also beat UC Irvine in The Nest in 2013 by a 99-94 final.
The 3-point shot has been as critical as ever in Sacramento State's early season success this year. The Hornets are averaging 16.8 made 3-pointers and 38% shooting from the arc in their four wins against 8.8 3-point makes per game and 24% shooting from long range in the six losses. The team is 4-1 when shooting 30% or better from 3-point range this season but winless (0-5) when shooting lower than 30% from the arc.
Pac The Nest
Sacramento State played in front of an announced crowd of 954 fans against USC on Dec. 3, 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 played multiple Pac-12 teams for the fourth straight season after also facing No. 24 Cal.
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 45-of-87 (51.7%) from the field. 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 has also improved her outside shooting, leading the team at 41.4% (12-of-29) from beyond the arc. She ranks third on the team scoring 11.1 points per game and also paces the team defensively, tying for the Big Sky leads with 2.4 steals per game. Crenshaw also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds on Saturday at UC Irvine.
Dominating the Glass
Senior forward Margaret Huntington has totaled 77 rebounds in her last seven games. The stretch includes a pair of 17-rebound games, against New Mexico State and Hofstra, as well as a 13-rebound performance. Her 94 total rebounds this season lead the Big Sky and rank 28th in NCAA Div. I. The fifth-year senior ranks seventh in program history with 680 career rebounds. She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bank of Hawaii Classic earlier this year.
Senior guard Brianna Burgos made her season debut vs. Stanislaus State, playing for the first time since suffering a knee injury in February. She missed the last four Hornet games last season and the first six this year recovering from surgery. 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 but Knocked down a pair of threes at Cal and hit another at UC Irvine.
Cleaning the Glass
The Hornets had a season-high 25 offensive rebounds vs. Stanislaus State and ranks 9th in Div. I averaging 18 offensive boards per game this year. As a result, the Hornets have outscored their opponent in second chance points in all but two games this year and average 14.1 more shots per game than the opposition. Last season the squad led NCAA Div. I with 20 offensive rebounds per game for the second straight 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 concludes non-conference play having faced one of the toughest 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.
Sacramento State has used nine different starting lineups in 10 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.
Sac Signs Four
Head coach Bunky Harkleroad announced four newcomers in in November. Dana Degraffenreid (Bakersfield, Calif./Ridgeview HS), Skylar Jackson (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman HS), Tiana Johnson (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead HS), and Anna Weibel (Estes Park, Colo./Estes Park HS) will join the program next Fall to help offset the loss of six Hornet seniors this season.
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 second on the team with 15.14points per game this year with 15 or more points scored in seven contests, including two 20-point games. She ranks third in the Big Sky with 29 made 3-pointers and leads the team shooting 33-of-42 (78.6%) from the free throw line.
The Hornets rank fifth in the nation scoring 88.4 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 this year is averaging 10.1 more points than the second highest scoring team in the league, Portland State. The Hornets have scored more than 90 points in six games this year.
Sacramento State is 19th in Div. I averaging 12.2 steals per game this season after averaging 14.9 steals per game last year to lead NCAA Div. I for the third straight season. The Hornets also own the Big Sky record for steals in a game, tallying 30 at Portland State in 2015.