CHENEY, Wash. – The Sacramento State women's basketball managed to fend off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by Eastern Washington Saturday afternoon, taking down the Eagles in Cheney, 73-70. In the effort, Kennedy Nicholas recorded her fourth-straight double-double.
With the win, Sacramento State climbs to 7-9 overall and 3-5 against Big Sky competition. Eastern Washington falls to 4-13 overall and is also 3-5 in conference.
Sacramento State trailed early on Saturday, but a 6-0 run at the end of the first quarter, coupled with a 7-0 run to open the second, gave them a 26-20 lead. They maintained their pace, eventually taking a 36-32 lead into halftime.
Over the next 10 minutes, Sacramento State really turned it on, outscoring the Eagles 24-12 to make it a 60-44 game at the end of the third quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Hornets were shooting 52.2% from the floor and 46.2% from beyond the arc. They had a comfortable 16 point lead, their largest in any game this season, and seemed poised to cruise to their first road win of the season.
Eastern Washington had other plans, however. After a Hannah Friend layup made it an 18-point game, the Eagles stormed back, going on runs of 13-2 and another of 10-2 to as the Hornets watched the lead shrink to one with two full minutes left to play.
Sacramento State was able to hold on, keeping the game at one point, 71-70, until there were just nine seconds left on the clock. At that point, Nicholas drained two free throws to make it a three-point game and give the Hornets their final score, 73-70.
Nicholas came into Saturday's game with three straight double-doubles and eight this season, the most in the Big Sky conference. With 17 points and 10 rebounds against the Eagles, she extended that streak to four games. During that stretch, Nicholas is averaging 17.8 points and 14.8 rebounds per game.
The junior forward added three assists and a steal and matched her season high with four blocks.
Nicholas also entered Saturday's game with the Big Sky's best field goal percentage at 47.7%. After going 7-for-11 against the Eagles, that number climbed to 48.6%.
Friend was the only other Hornet in double figures, also scoring 17. She was 7-for-12 from the floor and did not attempt a three-point field goal for the first time this season. She also pulled in five rebounds and added a steal.
Saturday's game was also the first time this season that Friend did not start, snapping her streak of consecutive starts at 15 this year and 28 dating back to last season.
Tiara Scott led the Hornets with five assists, bringing her season total to 71, and moving her closer to the number seven spot in Hornets program history for career assists (Alle Moreno, 278, 2010-14). She also added seven points and two steals in the win.
Gabi Bade had three assists, a steal, and six points in 16 minutes. Tiana Johnson added two more assists to go with two steals and six points. Milee Enger finished with eight points – one shy of her career-high – and was 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
In total, Sacramento State shot a season-best 48.3% on Saturday, going 29-for-60 from the floor. They also shot 37.5% from three (6-for-16) while going 9-for-14 from the free throw line.
The Hornets also forced Eastern Washington into 21 turnovers on Saturday, their most against a Big Sky opponent this season. They turned those 21 turnovers into 23 points, outscoring the Eagles 23-20 in those situations. Sacramento State had 15 steals, also its most against a Big Sky opponent and its most since opening the season with 20 steals against Cal Poly on Nov. 11 in the Nest.
Additionally, Sacramento State also dominated down low, outscoring the Eagles 44-22 in the paint, despite being outrebounded, 38-30.
Eastern Washington shot 38.6% from the floor Saturday and were led by senior guard Violet Kapri Morrow, who put up 27 on 10-of-18 shooting. She also tied for her team lead with seven rebounds.
Up next, the Hornets will return to Sacramento where they will play host to Idaho State and Weber State on Thursday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 2, respectively. Thursday night's game in the Nest is scheduled for a 7:05 pm tip off and will stream live online at Pluto.TV. For more details on Thursday's game and all upcoming games – including notes, ticket information, and more – visit HornetSports.com.