SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (10-19, 6-12 Big Sky) heads to the Big Sky Tournament in Reno as the No. 9 seed and will face 8th-seeded Weber State (12-17, 6-12 Big Sky) to open tournament play at 12:05 p.m. Monday. With a win the Hornets would advance to face No. 1 seed Montana State in the quarterfinals at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday.
The Starting Five
- The Hornets finished the regular season tied for eighth place with Weber State and the teams will meet in the 8-9 matchup to open the Big Sky Tournament at 12:05 p.m. Monday. Weber State is the No. 8 seed and the Hornets are No. 9, with the winner to face No. 1 seed Montana State at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday.
- Sacramento State has won a Big Sky Tournament game in each of the last two seasons and in four of the last five years. The Hornets advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament in three of the last five seasons but have never reached the Big Sky Tournament title game.
- Junior Maranne Johnson hit four 3-pointers vs. Northern Colorado on Friday to break the program record for threes in a season. She has made 89 threes this season, topping the single-season program record of 86 set by Hallie Gennett in 2014-15 and matched by Brianna Burgos last year.
- Sacramento State enters the Big Sky Tournament leading the league in scoring, 3-pointers made and attempted, 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.
- In their only regular season meeting with Weber State the Hornets held the Wildcats to just 66 points but attempted only 52 shots, the fewest shots in a game in nearly eight years, in a 66-60 loss.. The Hornets did shoot a season-best 15-of-16 at the free throw line in the game.
Every Hornet game at the Big Sky Tournament will stream live on HornetSports.com/Radio as well as WatchBigSky.com. Live stats and links to all broadcasts can be found on the women's basketball schedule page on hornetsports.com. For more follow @SacStateWbb on Twitter.
Big Sky Tournament Breakdown
The Hornets finished the regular season tied for eighth place with Weber State. The teams will meet in the 8-9 matchup to open Big Sky Tournament play at 12:05 p.m. Monday. The Wildcats are the No. 8 seed and the Hornet are No. 9 because Weber State had a 66-60 win over Sacramento State in the only regular season meeting between the teams in Ogden on Feb. 9. The winner on Monday will advance to play the No. 1 seed, Montana State, in the quarterfinal round of the tournament at 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday. Semifinals will be played on Friday with the title game on Saturday.
Big Sky Tournament History
Sacramento State has won a Big Sky Tournament game in each of the last two seasons and in four of the last five years. Sacramento State had never won a Big Sky Tournament game until the 2011-12 season but had only reached the tournament four times prior. The Hornets advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament in three of the last five seasons but have never reached the title game. The Hornets are 4-9 all-time at the Big Sky Tournament and have now qualified five straight years. For the second straight season all Big Sky teams qualified for tournament being played at the neutral site facility in Reno. The regular season Big Sky champion had previously hosted the league tournament.
In their only regular season meeting with Weber State the Hornets held the Wildcats to just 66 points but attempted only 52 shots, the fewest shots in a game for the Hornets in nearly eight years. The Hornets did shoot 16 free throws in the game and made 15, but Weber State shot an identical 15-of-16 from the line. Gretchen Harrigan led Sacramento State with 13 points as the Hornets were 5-of-19 from three. For the season five of Sacramento State's six Big Sky wins were against the three teams that finished below them in the final standings, with the other a 77-68 win at No. 7 seed Portland State.
Junior Maranne Johnson hit four 3-pointers vs. Northern Colorado in the regular season finale to break the program record for threes in a season. She has made 89 threes this season, topping 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 just 22 made 3-pointers behind Alle Moreno's program career record of 238 career threes with still her full senior season to play.
The Hornets honored seniors Brianna Burgos, Emily Easom, Ashlyn Crenshaw, Gretchen Harrigan, and Margaret Huntington prior to their final home game 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 415 games as Hornets. Kyhonta Doughty is also a senior this year but will be back next season after missing this year due to injury.
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 10.7 made threes per game, just behind Saint Francis (10.8).
Junior Justyce Dawson leads the Big Sky and ranks 13th in NCAA Div. I with a 2.76 assist to turnover ratio. In the last six games she has tallied 41 assists and just nine turnovers (4.6 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 vs. North Dakota 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 88.5 points per game in their last six 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 12.2 made 3-pointers in its last six games.
Big Sky Best
Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky in 3-pointers and steals per game. She is 16th in NCAA Div. I averaging 3.07 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. She also leads the league and ranks 22nd in Div. I with 2.90 steals per game. In just her third collegiate season Johnson already ranks second in program history in career 3-pointers (216) and in career steals (245).
Sacramento State is third 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.
Getting to the Line
The Hornets have shot at least 16 free throws and made at last 11 in eighth of their last 10 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 shot 71% 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 wins against 8.9 3-point makes per game and 26% shooting from long range in their losses. The team is 8-5 when shooting at least 30% from 3-point range this season but 2-14 when shooting below 30%.
Sacramento State has used 25 different starting lineups in 29 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 came by an average scoring margin of +12.7. Six of the team's Big Sky losses were by seven or less points, including a 2-point, 3-point, and 4-point loss.
Turning Over and Over
The Hornets have forced nearly 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 10th this year. The Hornets have scored 649 points off 624 forced turnovers while creating 13.2 more shots per game than their opponents this season.
Dominating the Glass
Senior forward Margaret Huntington's 8.9 rebounds per game this season lead the Big Sky and rank 58th in NCAA Div. I. She has nine double-digit rebounding games 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. She recorded one of the most impressive stat lines in program history vs. Montana, shooting 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. Huntington ranks fourth in program history with 845 career rebounds.
To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn
In Big Sky play this season the Hornets were +7.6 in turnover margin while no other conference team was better than +3.5. Over the last six seasons Sacramento State improved its turnover margin from -3.1 to +1.8 to +3.8 to +8.3 to +11.97 and was +9.68 last year. The team ranked second in Div. I last year, having fewer turnovers than their opponent in all but three games, and is seventh at +6.90 this season.
After missing the first 13 games of the season with a toe injury, senior forward Gretchen Harrigan has averaged 12.8 points per game through 14 contests played 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 10 of her 14 games played. Harrigan missed two more games after reaggrivating the injury but returned to play both Hornet games last week.
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.
Cleaning the Glass
The Hornets had a season-high 26 offensive rebounds vs. Montana and rank 7th in Div. I averaging 17 offensive boards per game this year. As a result, the Hornets have outscored their opponent in second chance points in 16 games this year and average 13.2 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.