SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (4-10, 0-3 Big Sky) looks to rebound on its home floor on Thursday hosting Southern Utah (5-9, 0-3 Big Sky) in the second of a three-game homestand in The Nest. Buy one, get one free tickets will be available for Thursday night's game as well as the Saturday afternoon matchup with Northern Arizona.
The Starting Five
- Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads NCAA Div. I averaging 4.00 made 3-pointers per game. She has made at least one 3-pointer in 25 consecutive games (dating back to last season) and has multiple threes in 22 of 25 contests. No Div. I player has averaged 4 threes since the 1999-2000 season.
- Sacramento State is 21-8 in home Big Sky games under head coach Bunky Harkleroad. Of the team's eight home conference losses in Harkleroad's tenure just three have been by more than six points. The Hornets fell by just two points vs. Portland State, missing a winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
- The Hornets once again leads the Big Sky in scoring, offensive rebounds, steals, 3-pointers, turnover margin, and turnovers forced. The team has led the league in each of those categories in all four seasons under coach Harkleroad and led nationally in three, steals, and offensive rebounds.
- In seven home games this season the Hornets have averaged 92.9 points per game shooting 40% overall and 35% from 3-point range. The team is averaging 14.6 made 3-pointers per game and 14.0 steals per game at home with a +8.1 turnover margin in seven games this season in The Nest.
- While the Hornets lead the Big Sky in threes the Thunderbirds are last, averaging just 3.9 made 3-pointers per game. SUU opened Big Sky play losing three home games, but the team took Northern Arizona to overtime and lost by just a 68-65 margin in their last contest against North Dakota.
Scouting Southern Utah (5-9, 0-3 Big Sky)
While the Hornets lead the Big Sky in threes the Thunderbirds are last, averaging just 3.9 made 3-pointers per game. Despite not being a perimeter oriented team Southern Utah is shooting just 37.4% on the season but has held opponents to 38.8% shooting defensively. SUU opened Big Sky play losing three home games, but the team took Northern Arizona to overtime and lost by just a 68-65 margin in their last contest against North Dakota, a team that beat the Hornets 94-71. The T-Birds were picked to finish last in the Big Sky by the coaches and 11th by the media in the preseason conference polls. Dari Frandsen leads the team with 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while two other SUU players average just over 10 points. The Hornets have won four straight games against Southern Utah, including a 102-89 win to open Big Sky Tournament play last year.
#1 from 3
Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads NCAA Div. I averaging 4.00 made 3-pointers per game. Johnson 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 made at least five 3-pointers in six other games. She has made at least one 3-pointer in 25 consecutive games (dating back to last season) and has multiple threes in 22 of those 25 contests. The NCAA season record for 3-point average is 4.50 but no NCAA player has averaged 4 or more threes since the 1999-2000 season. In just her third season Johnson ranks second in program history in career 3-pointers (183) and is fourth in in career steals (191). She leads the team and ranks second in the Big Sky scoring 17.3 points per game and is second on the team with 2.5 steals per game.
Playing Their Game
Despite the loss, the Hornets hit many of their key numbers against Portland State last Saturday. Sacramento State took 93 total shots, 27 more than the Vikings, and shot 51 threes, making 15. The Hornets had 22 of their 44 rebounds on the offensive glass, forced 27 turnovers, and had 16 steals. Those stats were all at or close to the team's target numbers that usually add up to a win, and the Hornets had a good look at a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer but came up just short.
Home Cooking in Conference
Sacramento State is 21-8 in home Big Sky games under head coach Bunky Harkleroad. Of the team's eight home conference losses in Harkleroad's tenure just three have been by more than six points. The team was +7.7 in scoring margin and allowed just 80.9 points per game in nine Big Sky home games last year.
Back on Top
Sacramento State once again leads NCAA Div. I with 11.7 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. 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. The team's season-high 21 made 3-pointers vs. Stanislaus State are the most by a Div. I team in a game this season.
In three Big Sky conference games redshirt senior Emily Easom is 19-of-21 (90.5%) from the free throw line. She has both made and attempted more free throws than any other Big Sky player in conference games. She was a perfect 7-of-7 at Northern Colorado and 10-of-12 at North Dakota, becoming just the third Big Sky player to make 10 or more free throws in a game this season. Easom has played three seasons of Big Sky basketball but just made her Hornet debut this year after being a two-time all-Big Sky selection at Portland State. Easom is second on the team with 15.0 points per game this year with 15 or more points scored in eight contests, including two 20-point games.
Happy at Home
In seven home games this season the Hornets have averaged 92.9 points per game shooting 40% overall and 35% from 3-point range. The team is averaging 14.6 made 3-pointers per game and 14.0 steals per game at home with a +8.1 turnover margin. By comparison, in seven away games (five road games and two neutral site games) the Hornets have averaged just 79.6 points while shooting 35% overall and 24% from the arc.
Back in Action
The Hornets are closer to full strength with the return of senior forward Gretchen Harrigan, who played her first game of the season last Saturday after being sidelined with a two injury. Brianna Burgos also began the season injured, having missed the last four Hornet games last season and the first six this year recovering from surgery. Harrigan was the team's third leading returning scorer from last season and Burgos was number one, with the two of them combining to average more than 25 points per game. The team is still missing senior forward Kyhonta Doughty, who is unlikely to play this year.
Dominating the Glass
Senior forward Margaret Huntington pulled down a career-high 21 rebounds at Northern Colorado, 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. The game was her fifth double-digit rebounding game of the year and third game with 17 or more boards. Her 9.6 rebounds per game this season lead the Big Sky and she is fifth in program history with 721 career rebounds.
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky with a 6.2 turnover margin, but that number is down from recent seasons. When the Hornets reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT in the 2014-15 season the squad finished with a +12.0 turnover margin, and the number was +9.7 last year. The team is forcing approximately two fewer turnovers per game compared to the last two seasons while turning the ball over roughly two more times themselves.
Sacramento State once again leads the Big Sky in scoring, offensive rebounds, steals, 3-pointers, turnover margin, and turnovers forced. The team has led the league in each of those categories in all four seasons under coach Bunky Harkleroad and has also been the national leader in 3-pointers, steals, and offensive rebounds per game as well as turnover margin.
The 3-point shot has been as critical as ever in Sacramento State's success this year. The Hornets are averaging 16.8 made 3-pointers and 38% shooting from the arc in their four wins against 9.7 3-point makes per game and 26% shooting from long range in the nine losses. The team is 4-1 when shooting 30% or better from 3-point range this season but winless (0-9) when shooting lower than 30% from the arc.
Cleaning the Glass
The Hornets had a season-high 25 offensive rebounds vs. Stanislaus State and rank 7th 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 10 games this year and average 14.9 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 rank seventh in the nation scoring 86.2 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 13.2 more points than the second highest scoring team in the league, North Dakota. The Hornets have scored more than 90 points in six games this season.
Sacramento State has used 11 different starting lineups in 14 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 2014-15.
Sacramento State is 13th 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.