SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State women's basketball team has an opportunity to lock up the number nine seed in the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a win Friday night. It will be no small task as they travel to Greeley, Colorado to take on the conference's top team, the Northern Colorado Bears.
For up-to-date Big Sky Conference standings, please visit the Big Sky's website. Fans can also find out more about the Big Sky Conference Tournament, scheduled for Monday, March 5 through Saturday, March 10, online at RoadToReno.com.
Friday night's game is scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. tip off at the Bank of America Arena in Greeley.
How To Watch
Friday night's game is scheduled for a 6:05 pm PT tipoff. Fans can watch the game live online on Pluto TV, channel 241. An audio-only stream is also available via Northern Colorado's online radio stream. As always, live stats can be found at HornetStats.com.
The Starting Five
- Maranne Johnson scored 22 points in the team's win over North Dakota, her ninth 20+ point game of the season and the 27th of her career. She trails only teammate Hannah Friend, who has 12 20+ point efforts on the season.
- The Hornets enter the season's final game of the season with a 5-12 record, tried for ninth in the conference with North Dakota. Although there are multiple scenarios that could play out, Sacramento State can secure the nine seed in the conference tournament with a win.
- Wednesday's win was Sacramento State's first on the road this season. Prior to defeating the Fighting Hawks, the Hornets were 0-7 in road contests, although they were 1-2 at neutral sites.
- Sacramento State made 28 free throws Wednesday against the Fighting Hawks, their second highest total of the season. In total, they were 28-of-37 (75.7%), just above their season average of 70.4%.
- Northern Colorado, who was picked to win the Big Sky Conference in the both the coaches and media preseason poll, enters Friday with the conference best record at 14-3, including 11-2 at home.
By The Numbers
28: Free throws made in the Hornets last win against North Dakota. The number is the team's second highest this season (30 vs. UCR).
3: Teams battling for the ninth seed in the conference tournament: Sacramento State (5-12), North Dakota (5-12), and Northern Arizona (4-13).
9: Active players on the Sacramento State roster. The team has been plagued by injuries all season, playing with eight active half the season.
Scouting Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado enters the final game of the regular season with a 22-6 overall record and a 14-3 mark in Big Sky Conference play. They have led the conference nearly all season after being selected to finish atop the women's hoops standings in both the coaches and media preseason polls. They 11-2 at home this season and come into Friday night's contest riding a nine-game win streak. They have not lost at home since January 20 against North Dakota, a team the Hornets just beat. As a team, the Bears are averaging 68.9 points per game while shooting 44.3%. They have limited opponents to 63.0 points per contest on an even 42.0% shooting. Savannah Smith leads the team with 18.1 points per game and is second on the squad with 84 assists on the season. Right behind her is Savannah Scott, who is putting up 17.1 points per game while shooting a team-best 38.2% from beyond the arc. As a team, Northern Colorado is top-five in most categories, including Assist-to-turnover ratio (4th), total assists (4th), field goal percentage (2nd), free throw percentage (1st), scoring defense (2nd), scoring margin (2nd), steals (4th), turnover margin (2nd), and others. They are led by fourth-year head coach Kamie Ethridge.
About Last Game
Sacramento State took their game to North Dakota and picked up their first road win of the season, defeating the Fighting Hawks 72-66 in Grand Forks. Maranne Johnson led the team in scoring, putting up 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting before fouling out late in the game. Justyce Dawson and Tiara Scott both broke the 10-point mark, as well, putting up 13 and 12, respectively. Normally one of the team's leading scorers, Hannah Friend had a relatively quiet night, scoring just nine points while struggling to a 1-for-11 mark from the floor. The biggest different in the game came at the free throw line, where Sacramento State made 28-of-37 free throw attempts compared to North Dakota's 16-for-23 effort.
Against Northern Colorado
- The Hornets are 9-13 against Northern Colorado since the start of the 2006-07 season. This is the first and only matchup between these two teams this season.
- In their last game, Sacramento State fell at home to the Bears in a shootout, 102-74.
- In Greeley, Sacramento State is just 2-8 against Northern Colorado.
- Over their last five matchups, the Hornets are just 1-4 against the Bears.
Big Sky Breakdown
- Much is still to be decided as the conference enters it's final games of the regular season with many teams tied or within on game of each other with one game to play.
- Northern Colorado, picked to win the conference, has locked up the number one seed while Southern Utah is guaranteed to be the 12.
- Sacramento State is tied with North Dakota for the nine seed at 5-12, though because of tiebreakers, Northern Arizona (4-13) has a chance to jump both with a win.
Best of the Week
Senior guard Maranne Johnson was named this week's Big Sky Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Tuesday, her first honor of the season and the fourth of her career. Johnson averaged 28.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.0 steals over two games last weekend.
Johnson joins Hannah Friend as the only other Hornet to win the award this season.
With her 56 points last weekend, Maranne Johnson now has 1,558 career points, the third most in Sacramento State women's basketball history. After scoring 41 last Thursday, Johnson passed former Hornet Kylie Kuhns (2009-2013) and her 1,504 points. Johnson will likely finish her career as the Hornets third-highest scorer as she trails Heidi Carroll by 141 points (1,729 points).
Thanks for the Freebies
North Dakota committed 27 fouls in Sacramento State's last game, sending the Hornets to the free throw line 18 times in Wednesday's game. Those 18 trips turned into 28 points on 37 attempts for the Hornets, proving to be key in their six-point win.
Career Day for Rae
Raegen Rohn had a career day for the Hornets last Saturday against Southern Utah, putting up a career-high 16 points. The junior shooter could not miss, going 5-for-5 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. She also made 2-of-2 free throws while playing just 21 minutes. She also added two rebounds and an assist in the effort.
What a Weekend
Sacramento State played it's two most exciting games of the season last weekend, falling 95-90 in overtime against Northern Arizona and beating Southern Utah, 79-77, on a Justyce Dawson buzzer beater. The five-point and two-point margins are two of the four closest games of the year (loss by five at Davis, loss by one at Portland State).
Senior Day Buzzer Beater
Senior point guard Justyce Dawson hit the game-winning shot as time expired last Saturday, giving her and the Hornets the last-second win on Senior Day. In total, Sacramento State's three seniors averaged 27 minutes, 10.3 points, and five rebounds in their final home game at The Nest.
Sac State's Tag Team
Earlier this season, Maranne Johnson and Hannah Friend combined to score 54 points against Montana State. That number matched a program record for most points by a duo in a conference game (previous, Brianna Burgos and Maranne Johnson, 2016). Last Thursday, Johnson and Friend demolished that record, combing for 64 points (Johnson 41, Friend 23), setting a new record for points by a duo in a conference game.
The all-time record for points scored by a duo is 70 (Kristy Ryan, 45; Sarah Stapp, 25), set in 1993 at UC Irvine.
A One-Two Punch
Field Goals Attempted: Friend, 461, 3rd; Johnson, 439, 4th
Field Goals Attempted: Friend, 168, 4th; Johnson, 167, 5th
Final Points: Friend, 489, 4th; Johnson, 436, 9th
Points Per Game: Friend, 18.1, 4th; Johnson, 16.1, 11th
Careful With The Ball
Sacramento State has three players among the top 10 in the Big Sky in assists-to-turnover ratio. Justyce Dawson is second in the conference with a 2.24 mark while Tiara Scott (1.63) and Maranne Johnson (1.26) are sixth and 10th, respectively.
Kennedy Nicholas leads the Hornets with 34 blocks this season. Her 1.26 blocks per game is seventh in the Big Sky Conference. She had a career-high six blocks at Montana.
Second Half Strong
Through the first nine games of the Big Sky Conference schedule, Sacramento State went 1-8 while averaging just 67.6 points per game on 37.5% shooting. Since then, Sacramento State is 4-4 with one game remaining. Through their last eight games, the Hornets are putting up 78.0 points per game while shooting 40.7%.
Grand Theft Basketball
Maranne Johnson has 71 steals this season, giving her 319 for her career. In addition to holding the Hornets program record for career steals, Johnson is also third all-time in the Big Sky. She is 21 back of Montana State's Liz Holz, who totaled 340 career steals from 1986-89.
On the Road Again
Sacramento State will look for their second road win of the year in their final regular season game Friday against North Dakota. Their one road win is currently their fewest wins on the road since the 2006-07 season when they did not have a road victory. The Hornets average just 66.4 points per game on the road, more than 10 fewer than they do at home (78.1 ppg). They also give up 87.6 points per contest on the road, compared to 76.6 at home.
Sacramento State Top-10 Watch: Points
Maranne Johnson is currently third all-time with 1,580 points for her career. She is 149 points back of Heidi Carroll (1982-86) and her 1,729 career points.
Sacramento State Top-10 Watch: Assists
Justyce Dawson is fifth for most career assists in Sacramento State women's basketball program history with 301. The senior point guard is 65 back of Julie Wastell (366, 1995-99).
Sacramento State Top-10 Watch: Field Goals
Maranne Johnson is fourth all-time for made field goals in Hornets women's basketball program history. Her 593 made field goals are nine back of Heidi Carroll's (1982-86) 602.
-- HornetSports --