SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State opened their final road trip of the regular season Wednesday night, taking on North Dakota. Despite a back-and-forth first half, the Hornets built a 10-point lead by the fourth quarter and held off a late Fighting Hawks push to win 72-66.
The Hornets (5-12) jumped out to an early lead, going up 13-6 on a Maranne Johnson free throw with three minutes left in the first quarter. North Dakota (5-12) continued to fight, however, cutting the deficit to just two points as Sacramento State took a 31-29 lead into the half.
The third quarter changed the game as the Hornets outscored the Fighting Hawks 24-16. They took their two point lead and turned it into a 10 point lead by the end of the quarter.
Sacramento Sate continued to push, going up as much as 14 midway through the fourth quarter. North Dakota outscored Sacramento State 19-11 over the game's final five minutes, but the lead was too much as the Hornets held off the late North Dakota push en route to their first road win of the season.
Although North Dakota outshot the Hornets 42.9% to 35.8%, the biggest difference in the game came at the free throw line. North Dakota committed 27 total fouls and Sacramento State ended the night 28-for-37 from the free throw line. The 28 points from the line are the second most in a game for Sacramento State this season (30, 11/26 vs. UC Riverside at Reno).
Johnson led the Hornets in scoring, putting up 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three. She also added a team-leading eight rebounds in the effort.
The Hornets entered Wednesday night's contest against North Dakota still looking for their first road win of the season. Entering tonight, Sacramento State had been 0-14 on the road and just 1-2 at neutral sites.
As a team, Sacramento State shot 35.8% (19-for-53) from the floor, including 31.6% (6-19) from three. As a team, they shot 75.7% (28-37) from the free throw line. They had 10 steals, four more than North Dakota, but were outrebounded 43-28. They took advantage of 22 North Dakota turnovers, scoring 15 points off those turnovers.
On the other side of the ball, it was all Lexi Klabo for the Fighting Hawks. Klabo scored a game-leading 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting. She also pulled in 11 rebounds, had two steals, and two assists.
With the win, Sacramento State pulls into a tie with North Dakota for ninth in the conference. The last game of the season will determine where the team finishes in the Big Sky Conference standings and their final seed for the conference tournament in Reno.
Sacramento State next travels to face conference-leading Northern Colorado. They'll take on the Bears Friday for their last regular season game of the year. Tip off is scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. PT tipoff.