GREELEY, Colo. – After trailing 49-40 at halftime, Northern Colorado opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run and fended off the Hornets late as the Bears beat Sacramento State in the Big Sky Conference opener, 95-88.
Senior Margaret Huntington had a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, tied for the third most rebounds in a game in program history. She posted the first 20-rebound game for any Hornet player since 2013 and the most since Kylie Kuhns had a program-record 23 boards in 2010. Her total tied for the 5th most rebounds any NCAA Div. I player has had in a game this season.
Sacramento State (4-8) outrebounded the Bears 51-40 with 18 offensive rebounds but the home team shot 51% overall, was 15-of-17 at the line, and made eight 3-pointers, just one fewer than the Hornets. Northern Colorado (9-3) entered the game with the best record in the Big Sky entering conference play.
The Hornets trailed the Bears by just four points on four different occasions in the final two and a half minutes of the game but could not get any closer. Down 88-84 with under two minutes to play, Sacramento State had a shot to cut it to a one-possession game but did not convert. It was just a 92-88 deficit with 32 seconds left but UNC made three of four free throw attempts and the Hornets missed their last five shot attempts.
Sacramento State shot 7-of-17 (43%) from 3-point range in the first half but just 2-of-15 (13%) in the second half. Northern Colorado had an early nine-point lead and was up 18-15 after one quarter but the Hornets shot 54% in the second quarter and, after an 8-0 run to end the half, totaled 34 points in the period and led 49-40 at the intermission.
Northern Colorado blitzed the Hornets 14-0 over the first two and a half minutes of the third quarter and outscored the visitors 26-5 over the opening seven minutes of the period to take a game-high 66-54 lead. Sacramento State trailed 71-65 going to the fourth and stayed within a single-digit deficit throughout the final period.
Huntington, who recorded her fifth double-digit rebounding game of the year and third game with 17 or more boards, was one of five Hornets to score in double figures. Junior Maranne Johnson led the team with 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers, and senior Emily Easom had 13 points shooting 7-of-7 at the free throw line. Senior Ashlyn Crenshaw and freshman Tiara Scott both finished with 11 points.
Now 5-1 at home this season, Northern Colorado had six players score in double-figures with Courtney Smith totaling 23 points and 10 rebounds. Danielle Noble had 16 points and Savannah Scott nearly had a triple-double with 14 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.
Sacramento State concludes its Big Sky-opening road trip playing at North Dakota at noon Pacific time on Saturday. The Fighting Hawks are 6-6 overall and 1-0 in the Big Sky after a 65-61 home win over Portland State on Thursday.