SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (10-18, 6-11 Big Sky) concludes the regular season with a home game against Northern Colorado (21-7, 13-4 Big Sky) at 7:05 p.m. Friday in The Nest. The Hornets will honor seniors Brianna Burgos, Ashlyn Crenshaw, Emily Easom, Gretchen Harrigan, and Margaret Huntington in a pregame ceremony.
The Starting Five
- Sacramento State could finish as the No. 8, 9, or 10 seed in the final conference standings. The Hornets will open play at the Big Sky Tournament on Monday in Reno, playing at either 12:05 p.m. (in the 8-9 game) or 5:35 p.m. (7 -10) and will face either Portland State or Weber State in the first round.
- Junior Maranne Johnson is one 3-point make away from tying the single-season program record. She has made 85 threes this season, just two shy of the single-season program record of 86 made threes set by Hallie Gennett in 2014-15 and matched by senior Brianna Burgos last year.
- The Hornets will honor seniors Brianna Burgos, Ashlyn Crenshaw, Emily Easom, Gretchen Harrigan, and Margaret Huntington before Friday's game. The five seniors have played 410 total games as Hornets, with Huntington spending five years at Sacramento State and Crenshaw playing four seasons.
- Junior Justyce Dawson leads the Big Sky and ranks seventh in NCAA Div. I with a 3.03 assist to turnover ratio. She had a career-high 13 assists at Southern Utah, the second most assists in a game in program history and the most by a Hornet player in the Div. I era, and tallied 9 assists on Wednesday.
- Northern Colorado clinched a first round bye in the Big Sky Tournament with a 57-50 win on Wednesday at Portland State. The Bears had lost four of their previous six games after starting conference play 10-0. UNC leads the league in assists, assist turnover ratio, and 3-point percentage.
Scouting Northern Colorado (21-7, 13-4 Big Sky)
Northern Colorado clinched a first round bye in the Big Sky Tournament with a 57-50 win on Wednesday at Portland State. The Bears had lost four of their previous six games after starting conference play 10-0. Northern Colorado is 6-2 in road Big Sky games and leads the league in assist turnover ratio (1.26), assists pet game (18.2), and 3-point percentage (.348). The Bears are ninth in NCAA Div. I in both assists per game and free throw percentage (.778) and are allowing just 62.1 points per game. The Hornets and Bears opened Big Sky play in Greeley on Dec. 29 in a 95-88 Northern Colorado win. Margaret Huntington had a career-high 21 rebounds and 12 points and the Hornets led 49-40 at halftime before UNC opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run en route to the win. Sacramento State is 7-3 all-time at home against the Bears with three straight wins in Sacramento.
Big Sky Breakdown
Sacramento State could still finish as the No. 8, 9, or 10 seed in the final conference standings. The Hornets are tied with Weber State at 6-11, and if the teams end the season tied they would likely play each other in the first round of Big Sky Tournament in the 8 vs. 9 matchup. That is the most likely scenario, but if the Hornets lose on Friday AND Northern Arizona wins at Eastern Washington Sacramento State would drop to the 10 seed.
The Hornets know for sure they will open play at the Big Sky Tournament on Monday in Reno, playing at either 12:05 p.m. (in the 8 vs. 9 matchup) or 5:35 (7 vs. 10). Sacramento State will face either Portland State, who they went 1-1 against during the regular season, or Weber State, who won the only regular season meeting between the teams, in the first round.
The Hornets will honor seniors Brianna Burgos, Emily Easom, Ashlyn Crenshaw, Gretchen Harrigan, and Margaret Huntington on Friday. Huntington has been a five-year Hornet and Crenshaw a four-year while the other three seniors were transfers. Burgos played three seasons and redshirted another at Sacramento State, Harrigan played three, and Easom played just one after redshirting last year. Between them the five seniors have played 410 games as Hornets. Kyhonta Doughty is also a senior this year but will be back next season after missing this year due to injury.
Junior Maranne Johnson is just one 3-point make away from tying the single-season program record. She has made 85 threes this season, just one shy of the single-season program record of 86 set by Hallie Gennett in 2014-15 and matched by Brianna Burgos last year. Johnson finished with 79 made threes last year, which is now fifth most in team history. Johnson is 26 made 3-pointers behind Alle Moreno's program career record of 238 career threes with still her full senior season to play.
Sacramento State had its best 3-point shooting game in Big Sky play this season in the 110-104 win at Southern Utah. The Hornets knocked down 21 threes in the game while shooting 48.7% from beyond the arc, matching their 21 made threes earlier this year vs. Stanislaus State for the NCAA Div. I high this year. No other Div. I school has made more than 20 in a game this season. The total was four shy of the NCAA record of 25 made by Sacramento State twice last season. With their recent 3-point shooting the Hornets are back up to second in Div. I with 10.6 made threes per game, just behind St. Francis (10.8).
Junior Justyce Dawson leads the Big Sky and ranks seventh in NCAA Div. I with a 3.03 assist to turnover ratio. In the last five games she has tallied 38 assists and just four turnovers (9.5 ratio). Dawson had a career-high 13 assists at Southern Utah, the second most assists in a game in program history and the most by a Hornet player in the Div. I era. She also scored 10 points against the T-Birds for her first career double-double and narrowly missed another double-double on Thursday with a career-high tying 14 points and nine assists.
After scoring 65 or fewer points in four straight games, averaging 60.8 points, the Hornets have averaged 91.4 points per game in their last five contests. The Hornets topped 90 points twice with a season-high 110 points scored at Southern Utah and put up 88 at Northern Arizona. Sacramento State is shooting 40% and averaging 12.4 made 3-pointers in its last five games.
Home Cooking in Conference
Sacramento State is 24-12 in home Big Sky games under head coach Bunky Harkleroad. Of the team's 12 home conference losses in Harkleroad's tenure just six have been by more than seven points.
Big Sky Best
Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky in 3-pointers and steals per game. She is 19th in NCAA Div. I averaging 3.04 made 3-pointers per game after leading 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 nine other games. In just her third collegiate season Johnson already ranks second in program history in career 3-pointers (212) and in career steals (243). She is also already eighth in Big Sky history in career threes.
Sacramento State is fourth 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 have tallied at least 10 steals in 14 of their last 17 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.
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in scoring, 3-pointers, 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.
Happy at Home
In 14 home games this season the Hornets have averaged 85.4 points per game. The team is averaging 11.8 made 3-pointers per game and 13.4 steals per game at home with a +8.8 turnover margin.
Oh What a Night
Senior Margaret Huntington recorded one of the most impressive stat lines in program history vs. Montana. 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 56th in Div. I averaging 9.0 rebounds per game this season.
Getting to the Line
The Hornets have shot at least 16 free throws and made at last 11 in eighth of their last nine games. The team shot a season-best 15-of-16 (93.8%) from the line vs. Weber State and, after shooting just 65% from the free throw line in the non-conference season, the Hornets have shot 72% at the stripe in Big Sky games.
The 3-point shot has been as critical as ever in Sacramento State's success this year. The Hornets are averaging 14.0 made 3-pointers and 35% shooting from the arc in their 10 wins against 8.8 3-point makes per game and 25% shooting from long range in the 17 losses. The team is 8-4 when shooting at least 30% from 3-point range this season but 2-14 when shooting below 30%.
Freshman Tiara Scott put together her best performance against Montana State, scoring a career-high 25 points while knocking down 7-of-11 shots from 3-point range. She shot 9-of-14 (64%) overall and had four rebounds and two assists. She scored 25 points despite playing only 21 minutes.
Sacramento State has used 24 different starting lineups in 28 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.
Close L's, Bigger W's
Sacramento State's six Big Sky wins have come by an average scoring margin of +12.7. Six of the team's Big Sky losses have been by seven or less points, including a 2-point, 3-point, and 4-point loss.