SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (8-12, 4-5 Big Sky) looks to bounce back from a tough loss on Thursday hosting defending Big Sky Tournament champion Idaho (11-10, 6-4 Big Sky) at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in The Nest.
The Starting Five
- Junior guard Maranne Johnson needs just two points on Saturday to become the 13th player in program history to score 1,000 points and just the fifth to do so in only three seasons. She leads the Big Sky in threes and steals and is third in NCAA Div. I with 3.55 made 3-pointers per game.
- The Hornets have won four of their last six games, allowing just 71.5 points per game after permitting 93.5 points per game through the first 14 contests of the season, a difference of 22 points. This year the Hornets are 6-1 when allowing less than 80 points and 2-11 when allowing 80 or more.
- Sacramento State leads the Big Sky and ranks in the top-10 in NCAA Div. I in scoring, offensive rebounds, steals, 3-pointers, turnover margin, and turnovers forced per game. The Hornets rank second in Div. I averaging 11.3 threes per game and are third with 13.3 steals per game.
- On Thursday the Hornets rallied from a poor shooting first half to take a 2-point lead early in the third quarter but Eastern Washington came back to win 72-65. Maranne Johnson led the Hornets with 14 points and Margaret Huntington had 15 rebounds, her sixth game this year with 13 or more boards.
- Saturday's game features two of the top four 3-point shooting teams in Div. I as Idaho, the defending Big Sky Tournament champion, ranks 4th with 10.5 made threes per game after hitting 17 on Thursday. Idaho leads the Big Sky and ranks 20th in Div. I averaging just 13.1 turnovers per game.
Scouting Idaho (11-10, 6-4 Big Sky)
The defending Big Sky Tournament champion, Idaho has won four of its last five games after rallying from down 15 points to win at Portland State, 72-66, on Thursday night. The Vandals hit 17 3-pointers against the Vikings and rank fourth in NCAA Div. I with 10.5 made threes per game this season. Idaho leads the Big Sky and ranks 20th in Div. I averaging just 13.1 turnovers per game and has the second best assist-turnover ratio (1.11) and free throw percentage (.768) in the league. Mikayla Ferenez is second in the league scoring 17.3 points per game and leads all Big Sky players and is fifth in the nation shooting 90.9% (60-of-66) from the free throw line. Preseason all-Big Sky selection Geraldine McCorkell also averages 15.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Sacramento State is 4-7 all-time against Idaho with a 2-2 record since the Vandals joined the Big Sky in 2014.
Junior guard Maranne Johnson needs just two points on Saturday to be the 13th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. She can become just the fifth player in program history to score 1,000 points in just three seasons as a Hornet. She is averaging 16.3 points per game this season and 18.5 points in 10 home games. She came close to reaching the plateau on Thursday, finishing with 14 points.
Sacramento State scored just 22 points in the first half on Thursday, including only eight points in the second quarter. Despite the team's lowest scoring half in more than three years, the Hornets held Eastern Washington to just 29 points to trail by only seven at halftime. A quick 9-0 spurt to start the third quarter gave the Hornets a brief 2-point advantage but the Eagles would lead for the remainder of the game.
Through 10 home games Sacramento State has scored and allowed the exact same number of points (878). Its no surprise then that the team is an even 5-5 on its home floor this season.
D Key in Winning Stretch
The Hornets have won four of their last six games, and a vastly improved defensive effort has been a huge factor. In the last six games the Hornets have allowed just 71.5 points per game after permitting 93.5 points per game through the first 14 contests of the season, a difference of 22 points. The team's opposing field goal percentage has dropped from .516 to .486 in the last six games and the Hornets have allowed nearly seven fewer shots per game, thanks in part to a +10.2 turnover margin compared to a +6.2 margin through the first 14 games. For the year the Hornets are 6-1 when allowing less than 80 points and 2-11 when allowing 80 or more.
Big Sky Best
Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky in 3-pointers and steals per game. She is third in NCAA Div. I averaging 3.55 made 3-pointers per game and has led the nation in the category earlier this year. 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 made at least five 3-pointers in seven other games. She has made at least one 3-pointer in 31 consecutive games (dating back to last season) and has multiple threes in 26 of those 31 contests. In just her third collegiate season Johnson already ranks second in program history in both career 3-pointers (198) and in career steals (226).
In Big Sky play the Sacramento State men's and women's basketball teams play the same opponents each game day, varying home and road locations. Through nine league games the two teams have had the same result each night, either both winning or both losing against the same opposing school on all nine nights. Several of the games have played out similarly as well; Last Saturday against Portland State the Hornet women erased a 13-point deficit to win while the men battled back from down nine points in the last two minutes to earn an overtime win.
Close L's, Bigger W's
Sacramento State's four Big Sky wins have come by an average scoring margin of +10.0. By comparison, four of the team's five Big Sky loss have been by seven or less points, including a 2-point and 4-point loss.
Sacramento State won its second consecutive road game last Saturday in large part thanks to a 22-0 run. Trailing Portland State 58-45 with under three minutes to play in the third quarter, the Hornets scored five straight to end the period and started the fourth quarter 17-0 before the Vikings scored again with 3:33 left to play. During the nine minutes and 19 seconds between Portland State points the Hornets allowed just six field goal attempts and no free throws while forcing seven turnovers.
After missing the first 13 games of the season with a toe injury, senior forward Gretchen Harrigan has averaged 14.4 points per game through seven contests and has led the team in scoring in four of them. She scored a season-high 20 points, just one shy of her career high, at Montana after leading the team with 19 points at Montana State. Since her return Harrigan is shooting 45.3% from the field and has 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contests.
Home Cooking in Conference
Sacramento State is 23-9 in home Big Sky games under head coach Bunky Harkleroad. Of the team's nine home conference losses in Harkleroad's tenure just three have been by more than seven 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 and are 2-2 in home league games so far this year.
Sacramento State is third in Div. I averaging 13.3 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 have tallied at least 11 steals in nine straight games, recording 17+ thefts in four straight contests. Sacramento State has led Div. I in steals in three straight seasons and owns the Big Sky game record with 30 steals at Portland State in 2015.
Happy at Home
In 10 home games this season the Hornets have averaged 87.8 points per game shooting 39% overall and 33% from 3-point range. The team is averaging 13.1 made 3-pointers per game and 14.4 steals per game at home with a +9.4 turnover margin. By comparison, in 10 away games (eight road games and two neutral site) the Hornets have averaged just 78.7 points shooting 36% overall and 27% from three.
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.
Bunky Harkleroad's 500th career game as a head coach will be on Feb. 11 at Idaho State. Coincidentally, Pocatello is also the place where Harkleroad picked up his 300th career win last season. In 17 seasons as a head coach Harkleroad has had a losing record in just three seasons.
A First in Missoula
Sacramento State's 73-60 win at Montana Jan. 21 was the team's first road victory over the Lady Griz in program history. The Hornets had been 0-21 all-time against the Griz in Dahlberg Arena, losing by double-figures in 18 of those 21 games. Sacramento State did have two previous victories in the building, however, winning two neutral site Big Sky Tournament games in Missoula in 2013 and 2015. The win marked the second consecutive year in which the Hornets won their first road game against a Big Sky opponent, having beaten Idaho State for the first time in 20 games in Pocatello last January.
Sacramento State has used 17 different starting lineups in 20 games this season, with just two lineups used more than once. 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.
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 eight double-digit rebounding game this year and three games with 17 or more boards. Her 9.5 rebounds per game this season lead the Big Sky and rank 46th in NCAA Div. I. She is fifth in program history with 776 career rebounds.
Turning Over and Over
The Hornets have forced nearly 23 turnovers per game this year, creating at least 23 opponent giveaways in nine games with four 30-turnover games. Sacramento State led NCAA Div. I with 24.16 turnovers forced per game last season and currently ranks fifth this year. The Hornets have scored 469 points off 457 forced turnovers while creating 14.5 more shots per game than their opponents this season.