GREELEY, Colo. – Sacramento State women's basketball shot 57.5% in the second half of Saturday's Big Sky opener, outscoring Northern Colorado by 15. Despite the strong second-half showing, the Hornets were unable to overcome an early first-quarter deficit, falling to the Bears, 82-69.
With the loss, the Hornets fall to 4-5 on the season, dropping below .500 for the first time this season. They are also 0-1 to open Big Sky competition. Northern Colorado improves to 6-4 overall and 1-0 in league play.
Sacramento State shot a season-best 42.2% overall Saturday, going 27-64 from the field, including an impressive 57.5% in the game's final two quarters. The Hornets scored 29 and 20 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, outscoring the Bears by a combined score of 49-35.
The strong second-half effort was not enough, though, to overcome an early 33-point deficit. Northern Colorado dominated the game's first quarter, keeping the Hornets off the scoreboard until a layup by Kennedy Nicholas 20 seconds into the second period.
Although they trailed early, the Hornets never folded, whittling away at the Northern Colorado lead. Sacramento State outscored the Bears in each of the final three quarters, cutting the deficit to as few as 10 in the fourth quarter, but were unable to close the gap entirely.
The Hornets were led by a team-high 21 points from junior guard Hannah Friend. Friend was 7-of-16 overall on Saturday, including 3-for-7 from three and 4-for-7 from the free throw line. The team's leading scorer, Friend also added seven rebounds and a steal in a team-high 34 minutes.
Kennedy Nicholas finished with a double-double for Sacramento State, her third of the year. The junior forward scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Nicholas was 8-for-16 overall and also added a season-high three blocks.
In what was just her third game of the season, junior Gabi Bade set a new career-high with 14 points. She was 5-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from three, while also adding a free throw.
Bade also led the team in assists for the second time in three games, totaling five on Saturday. In three games this season, Bade is now averaging four assists per contest.
Sacramento State's 42.2% shooting was their best of the season and four points better than Northern Colorado's 38.8%. The Hornets were 10-of-28 from three compared to the Bears' 11-for-28, but the biggest difference came at the free throw line. Northern Colorado went 19-for-25 from the line while the Hornets were just 5-for-11.
After opening Big Sky Conference play on the road for the third time in the last three seasons, Sacramento State will return home for two conference games against Montana and Montana State on Thursday, Jan. 3 and Saturday, Jan. 5.
Thursday's home opener against the Montana Grizzlies is scheduled for a 7:05 pm tip off inside The Nest. For more information on times, tickets, and more, visit the Women's Basketball page online at HornetSports.com.