SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After a commanding 99-69 win over Montana on Thursday Sacramento State (9-15, 5-8 Big Sky) looks for another home win hosting Montana State (18-6, 11-3 Big Sky) at 2 p.m. Saturday in The Nest.
The Starting Five
- After scoring 65 or fewer points in four straight games the Hornet offense erupted with 99 points in a 99-69 win over Montana on Thursday. The Hornets hit 12 threes, the most since making 15 vs. Portland State on Jan. 7, and topped 90 points for the first time in Big Sky play this season.
- On Thursday Senior Margaret Huntington shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and 3-of-3 at the line with 15 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and three steals in 24 minutes. She posted her seventh game this season with 13 or more rebounds and her fourth game with 17+ boards.
- In the last 10 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. For the season the Hornets are 7-4 when allowing less than 80 points and 2-11 when allowing 80 or more.
- Sacramento State recorded its largest margin of victory over Montana in program history and won their fourth straight home game against the Griz with the 30-point win Thursday. Paired with a 73-60 win in Missoula in January the Hornets completed a season sweep of the Griz for the first time.
- Montana State entered play on Thursday night on a seven-game wining streak and tied for the Big Sky lead but took a 69-65 loss at Portland State. The Bobcats lead the Big Sky in rebounding and 3-point percentage defense and rank 6th in Div. I with 30 defensive rebounds per game.
Scouting Montana State (18-6, 11-3 Big Sky)
Montana State entered play on Thursday night on a seven-game wining streak and tied for the Big Sky lead but took a 69-65 loss at Portland State. In road games the Bobcats are still 7-6 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky and handed league-leading North Dakota a loss in Grand Forks. The Bobcats lead the Big Sky in rebounding and rank 6th in Div. I with 30 defensive rebounds per game. Montana State is also the second highest scoring team in the league, behind the Hornets, and Hannah Caudill leads the league shooting 40.6% from 3-point range. Montana State had a 64-60 win over the Hornets in Bozeman, leading by as many as 18 points and by nine with six seconds left. The Hornets drew 22 fouls and shot a season-high 31 free throws in the loss. The Bobcats have won three straight meetings with the Hornets and have not lost in Sacramento since the 2013-14 season.
After scoring 65 or fewer points in four straight games the Hornet offense erupted with 99 points in a 99-69 win over Montana on Thursday. The Hornets hit 12 threes, the most since making 15 vs. Portland State on Jan. 7, and topped 90 points for the first time in Big Sky play. The Hornets scored at least 23 points in each quarter with a high of 29 in the second quarter.
Oh What a Night
Senior Margaret Huntington recorded one of the most impressive stat lines in program history on Thursday. She shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and 3-of-3 at the line with 15 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and three steals in 24 minutes. She posted her seventh game this season with 13 or more rebounds and her fourth game with 17+ boards. She leads the Big Sky and ranks 46th in Div. I averaging 9.4 rebounds per game this season after recording her 11th career double-double on Thursday.
Margaret Huntington and Maranne Johnson each recorded double-doubles on Thursday, the first time this season that the team had two double-doubles in the same game. Johnson had a game-high 21 points, hitting five 3-pointers, with 10 rebounds to go with Huntington's 15 points and 17 boards. The pair are the only Hornets with double-doubles this season, with Huntington totaling four and Johnson two.
Beating the Griz
Sacramento State recorded its largest margin of victory over Montana in program history with the 30-point win on Thursday. Paired with a 73-60 win in Missoula in January the Hornets completed a season sweep of the Lady Griz for the first time in program history. The win at Montana was the team's first road victory over the Lady Griz in program history as the Hornets had been 0-21 all-time against the Griz in Dahlberg Arena. The Hornets have now won four straight home games against Montana after having been 1-15 all-time at home against the school.
Exceptional Ball Control
Sacramento State committed just five turnovers last Saturday at Idaho State, the team's fewest since having just four giveaways Feb. 28, 2015 against Portland State. The Hornets forced 21 turnovers and had a commanding 22-2 scoring advantage in points off turnovers, its second best differential of the season. Sacramento State forced 25 turnovers against Montana on Thursday.
In the last 10 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 .466 in the last 10 games and the Hornets have a +9.4 turnover margin compared to a +6.2 margin through the first 14 games. For the year the Hornets are 7-4 when allowing less than 80 points and 2-11 when allowing 80 or more.
Bunky Harkleroad's 500th career game as a head coach was last Saturday 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 at the NAIA and NCAA D I and D II levels Harkleroad has had a losing record just three times. He had a 316-184 overall record through 500 games coached.
1,000 in Three Seasons
On Feb. 4 vs. Idaho Maranne Johnson became the 13th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. She is just the fifth Hornet to score 1,000 points in just three seasons, joining the elite group of Kristy Ryan, Heidi Carroll, Julie Wastell, and Kylie Kuhns. Johnson is the first Hornet player to reach 1,000 points since Fantasia Hilliard reached the milestone in 2015.
Happy at Home
In 12 home games this season the Hornets have averaged 86.2 points per game shooting 38% overall and 32% from 3-point range. The team is averaging 12.1 made 3-pointers per game and 14.1 steals per game at home with a +9.4 turnover margin.
Getting to the Line
The Hornets have shot at least 16 free throws and made it last 12 in five straight games. The team shot a season-best 15-of-16 (93.8%) from the line vs. Weber State and, after shooting just 65.0% from the free throw line in the non-conference season, the Hornets are shooting 71.0% at the stripe in Big Sky games.
Home Cooking in Conference
Sacramento State is 24-10 in home Big Sky games under head coach Bunky Harkleroad. Of the team's 10 home conference losses in Harkleroad's tenure just four have been by more than seven points.
Sacramento State is second in Div. I averaging 13.2 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 have tallied at least 11 steals in 12 of their last 13 games, recording 17+ thefts six times. 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.
Big Sky Best
Junior guard Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky in 3-pointers and steals per game. She is 9th in NCAA Div. I averaging 3.21 made 3-pointers per game and 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 eight other games. She had made at least one 3-pointer in 31 consecutive games before shooting 0-of-4 from beyond the arc vs. Idaho. In just her third collegiate season Johnson already ranks second in program history in career 3-pointers (204) and in career steals (235).
After missing the first 13 games of the season with a toe injury, senior forward Gretchen Harrigan has averaged 14.5 points per game through 11 contests and has led the team in scoring in six of them. She scored a career-high 23 points against Idaho and has scored in double figures in nine of her 11 games played. She shot 13-of-14 from the free throw line against the Vandals, recording the most free throws made and attempted in a game since Fantasia Hilliard shot 14-of-18 at the line in 2011. Since her return Harrigan is shooting 39% from the field and 76% from the free throw line.
The 3-point shot has been as critical as ever in Sacramento State's success this year. The Hornets are averaging 13.2 made 3-pointers and 34% shooting from the arc in their nine wins against 8.6 3-point makes per game and 26% shooting from long range in the 15 losses. The team is 7-3 when shooting at least 30% from 3-point range this season but 2-12 when shooting below 30%. The Hornets made just two 3-pointers in the loss to Idaho, the team's fewest made threes in a game since Feb 28, 2013.
Close L's, Bigger W's
Sacramento State's five Big Sky wins have come by an average scoring margin of +14.0. Five of the team's Big Sky loss have been by seven or less points, including a 2-point and 4-point loss.
Dominating the Glass
Senior forward Margaret Huntington's 9.4 rebounds per game this season lead the Big Sky and rank 46th in NCAA Div. I. She has nine double-digit rebounding game this year and four games with 17 or more boards. She pulled down a career-high 21 rebounds at Northern Colorado, tied for the third most rebounds in a game in program history, while posting 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. Huntington ranks fourth in program history with 812 career rebounds.
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in 3-pointers, scoring, offensive rebounds, steals, 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.
Sacramento State has used 20 different starting lineups in 24 games this season, with just three 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.
Turning Over and Over
The Hornets have forced more than 22 turnovers per game this year, creating at least 23 opponent giveaways in 10 games with four 30-turnover games. Sacramento State led NCAA Div. I with 24.16 turnovers forced per game last season and currently ranks third this year. The Hornets have scored 550 points off 537 forced turnovers while creating 13.9 more shots per game than their opponents this season.