SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After an 81-69 home win over Southern Utah on Thursday, Sacramento State (5-10, 1-3 Big Sky) looks to wrap up a season-long three-game homestand with another victory hosting Northern Arizona (5-9, 1-2 Big Sky) at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in The Nest.
For Kids Day on Saturday all youth 12-and-under will receive free admission. All youth are also invited to participate in a free one-hour clinic with the Hornet players after the game and can get free team posters and autographs.
The Starting Five
- Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads NCAA Div. I averaging 3.80 made 3-pointers per game. She has made at least one 3-pointer in 26 consecutive games (dating back to last season) and has multiple threes in 22 of 26 contests. She is also just 72 points away from reaching 1,000 career points.
- Sacramento State is 22-8 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 have averaged 91.4 points while making 14.6 threes per game at home this season.
- 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.
- On Thursday Sacramento State built a 25-point lead in the first half and held Southern Utah to just 69 points, the lowest opponent scoring total of the season, while forcing 33 turnovers to earn an 81-69 win. Gretchen Harrigan and Ashlyn Crenshaw both scored 18 points to lead the Hornets.
- Northern Arizona was supposed to play at Portland State Thursday night but the game was postponed due to travel conditions. NAU is 1-5 in its last six games but its two Big Sky losses were by a combined five points at home against league-leaders Northern Colorado and North Dakota.
Scouting Northern Arizona (5-9, 1-2 Big Sky)
Northern Arizona was supposed to play at Portland State on Thursday but the game was postponed to Monday due to weather. The Lumberjacks began the year 4-4, including a 70-49 home win over Youngstown State, but are just 1-5 since. The team won its Big Sky opener with an overtime win at Southern Utah before narrow home losses to North Dakota (80-78) and Northern Colorado (69-66). The Lumberjacks have the second fewest turnovers and the second best assist to turnover ratio in the Big Sky but are last in Div. 1 with only 14 blocks this season. Rene Coggins is the best 3-point percentage shooter in the league at 40.2% and is third with 2.5 made 3-pointers per game. She averages 12.3 points while Olivia Lucero leads the team with 14.6 points per game. The Hornets have won two straight games and six of their last seven meetings with the Lumberjacks.
#1 from 3
Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads NCAA Div. I averaging 3.80 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 26 consecutive games (dating back to last season) and has multiple threes in 22 of those 26 contests. In just her third collegiate season Johnson ranks second in program history in career 3-pointers (184) and is fourth in in career steals (205). She leads the team and ranks second in the Big Sky scoring 17.0 points per game and leads the Big Sky with 2.9 steals per game after a career-high nine steals vs. Southern Utah on Thursday.
Playing Their Game
Other than points the last two games have been, statistically, what the Hornets hope for. Sacramento State took 27 more shots than both Portland State and Southern Utah and took 94 threes in the two games. The Hornets had 22 and 19 offensive rebounds in the two games and forced 27 and 33 turnovers, respectively. Those stats were all at or close to the team's target numbers that usually add up to a win, and despite a tough shooting night they resulted in a win against the Thunderbirds.
Home Cooking in Conference
Sacramento State is 22-8 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.
The Hornets put together their best defensive performance of the season on Thursday, holding Southern Utah to an opponent season-low 69 points. Over the last two games the Hornets have permitted just 78.5 points per game after allowing 93.9 points per contest through the first 13 games of the season. The improved defensive effort helped offset a poor shooting night on Thursday.
Back on Top
Sacramento State once again leads NCAA Div. I with 11.5 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 four Big Sky conference games redshirt senior Emily Easom is 23-of-26 (88.5%) 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 15.3 points per game this year and has scored in double figures in nine straight games.
Happy at Home
In eight home games this season the Hornets have averaged 91.4 points per game shooting 39% overall and 33% from 3-point range. The team is averaging 14.6 made 3-pointers per game and 13.8 steals per game at home with a +9.6 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. She has six double-digit rebounding game this year and three games with 17 or more boards. Her 9.7 rebounds per game this season lead the Big Sky and she is fifth in program history with 732 career rebounds.
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.
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 this season, shooting 48.5% 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 at 38.6% from beyond the arc, the best long range shooting average on the team. She ranks third on the team with 10.1 points per game and is second in the Big Sky with 2.5 steals per game. She also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds at UC Irvine.
The 3-point shot has been as critical as ever in Sacramento State's success this year. The Hornets are averaging 15.0 made 3-pointers and 34% shooting from the arc in their five 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 1-9 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 15.7 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 85.9 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 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 12 different starting lineups in 15 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 9th in Div. I averaging 12.5 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.