SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team will close out its regular season this weekend when the Montana schools visit The Nest for a pair of Big Sky Conference games.
The Hornets (16-11, 11-7 Big Sky) will meet the Bobcats (16-11, 10-8) at 7 p.m. on Thursday before playing the Lady Griz (21-6, 15-3) at 2 p.m. on Saturday for Senior Day. Sacramento State will recognize the outstanding careers of four seniors - Mallorie Franco, Kylie Kuhns, Megan Kritscher and Natasha Torgerson - prior to Saturday's game.
The Hornets have already locked in a spot in the Big Sky Tournament, but depending on this weekend's results, Sacramento State could claim a seed anywhere from No. 3 to No. 6.
MONTANA STATE BREAKDOWN
Record: 16-11, 10-8 Big Sky (6th)
All-Time Div. I (1991-92) Series: 8-27
Last Meeting: W, 69-65 (Dec. 20, 2012)
Notable: Montana State started conference play with an 8-1 record but have going 2-7 since Jan. 26. Both of those wins have come in the last three games, against Weber State on Feb. 16 and Southern Utah on Monday night. Rachel Semansky is averaging a team-best 13.2 points per game.
Record: 21-6, 15-3 Big Sky (1st)
All-Time Div. I (1991-92) Series: 1-32
Last Meeting: L, 82-55 (Dec. 22, 2012)
Notable: Montana has won 10 of its last 11 games and five straight since losing, 61-42, at Northern Colorado on Feb. 7. The Lady Griz's only other Big Sky losses were on the road at Eastern Washington, 58-56, on Jan. 3 and at home versus Montana State, 58-49, on Jan. 19.
All games can be viewed on Big Sky TV plus live stats/audio are available online at hornetsports.com
THREES FOR THE DISEASE
In conjunction with Health Net, Inc., the Sacramento State women's basketball team has brought back its Threes for the Disease campaign for a second season in support of ALS research and awareness. With the help of sponsor Health Net, Inc., each three-pointer the women's basketball team makes this year will once again be worth a $10 donation to the ALS Association, Greater Sacramento Chapter. "ALS is an insidious disease that will only be solved with community partnerships such as this one with Health Net and Sacramento State," said Amy Sugimoto, executive director of the ALS Association, Greater Sacramento Chapter. "We are immensely grateful for their commitment to helping those battling ALS." A banner on the wall inside The Nest will track how many three-pointers the Hornets have made this season and members of the Sacramento State cheer team will update the total during games. So far the Hornets have hit 170 three-pointers.
KUHNS SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT
Kylie Kuhns is shooting an amazing 69.4 percent (43-of-62) over her last five games. Kuhns was 10-of-15 from the floor against North Dakota on Feb. 14 and in the four games since has gone 9-of-12 versus Northern Colorado, 6-of-10 at Northern Arizona, 9-of-13 against Weber State and 9-of-12 versus Idaho State. Kuhns currently ranks No.1 2 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big Sky in field goal percentage at 56.0 percent (155-of-277). Only Montana State's Rachel Semansky (57.6 percent, 133-of-221) is better in the Big Sky. If the season ended today, Kuhns' 56.0 shooting percentage would be the seventh best in single-season school history and her career 49.1 shooting percentage would check in at No. 8.
KUHNS SETS BIG SKY CAREER REBOUNDS RECORD
Kylie Kuhns now has 1,185 rebounds in her stellar career, the most in program history and now the most in Big Sky Conference history. The Big Sky record was 1,174, set by Idaho State's Natalie Doma in 2008. Kuhns needed 17 before playing Weber State on Feb. 28, but she grabbed 20 to break the record. Kuhns early became just the fifth player in Big Sky history to reach 1,000 career rebounds in the Hornets' Dec. 22 game at Montana. Kuhns had 27 rebounds last weekend in games at WSU (20) and Idaho State (7) and posted her 66th career 10+ rebound game and 49th double-double.
KRITSCHER REACHES BIG SKY BLOCKS MARK
Megan Kritscher now has 101 blocked shots this season and is the new Big Sky Conference single-season recordholder after breaking the previous mark of of 100, set by EWU's Brenda Souther during the 1983-84 season. Kritscher swatted five shots at Weber State on Feb. 28 to break the record. She also swatted six shots against Eastern Washington on Feb. 7 but needed only five entering the game to break Heidi Carroll's single-season school record of 83 blocks. Kritscher has tallied 5+ blocks 12 times this year, with a season-high 8 at Eastern Illinois on Dec. 7. She ranks No. 3 in the NCAA, averaging 3.78 blocked shots per game.
NEARLY A HISTORIC SEASON
At 16-11 and 11-7 in Big Sky play, Sacramento State is one win away from the program record for wins in the Div. I era. Since the Hornets moved up to Div. I for the 1991-92 season, Sacramento State's record for wins is 17, when the Hornets went 17-10 as an independent during the 1992-93 campaign. Sacramento State's overall record for wins is 19, when the Hornets went 19-7 as an independent in 1990-91, their final season of Div. II competition. With 11 Big Sky wins, the Hornets eclipsed their previous record of 10 league victories, set during the 2009-10 season. That achievement needs to be put in context, however, because the Big Sky added two teams - North Dakota and Southern Utah - prior to this season and play four additional league games.
HORNETS SECURE BIG SKY TOURNEY SPOT
With its 78-68 victory on Saturday at Northern Arizona on Feb. 23, Sacramento State secured its sixth trip in program history to the Big Sky Tournament, and the third in four seasons under head coach Jamie Craighead. The Hornets joined the Big Sky for the 1996-97 season. Last year, Sacramento State defeated Eastern Washington, 71-61, in the quarterfinals for the program's first ever Big Sky Tournament victory.
LAST TIME VS. MONTANA STATE
The Sacramento State women's basketball team made eight of its last nine field goal attempts and rallied to defeat Montana State, 69-65, in the Hornets' Big Sky Conference opener on Dec. 20 at Worthington Arena. The Hornets have won back-to-back games at Montana State after going 2-14 in Bozeman since joining the Big Sky for the 1996-97 season. The win was also the second straight in a Big Sky opener. Last year Fantasia Hilliard hit a runner at the buzzer to defeat the Bobcats and Thursday night's victory was almost equally thrilling.After being tied, 33-33, at halftime, the Hornets jumped out to a quick 39-35 lead. But Montana State battled back to go up 57-52 with 7:58 left in the game. That's when it was the Hornets' turn to rally, and after Alle Moreno knocked down a three-pointer with 2:03 remaining, Sacramento State retook the lead at 64-60. Over the final minutes, Montana State closed the lead to just two points on two occasions but Hilliard hit a pair of crucial free throws with 16 seconds left to put the game away. Over the final 9:11 of the game, Sacramento State went 8-of-9 from the floor and 7-of-8 at the free throw line. Moreno had a game-high 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting while Kylie Kuhns added 14 and Hilliard chipped in 10. Megan Kritscher, who entered the game with a NCAA-leading 4.75 blocked shots per game, had four blocks against Montana State, including one with just 1:14 left on the clock. Montana State was paced by three players who each had 12 points - Jackie Elliott, Rachel Semansky and Latisha Adams.
LAST TIME VS. MONTANA
Kylie Kuhns became just the fifth player in Big Sky Conference history to reach 1,000 career rebounds, but the Sacramento State women's basketball team shot just 25.6 percent from the field and lost, 82-55, at Montana on Dec. 22 at Dahlberg Arena. Kuhn' fourth rebound in the game gave the Salem, Ore., native 1,000 career boards. The senior had 13 total versus the Lady Griz. While they closed strong against Montana State, the Hornets started out hot against Montana. Sacramento State led by as much as six points at 13-7 with 16:10 left in the first half but the Lady Griz responded with a 15-2 run over the next six minutes to take a 22-15 lead and never trailed again. Fantasia Hilliard shined for the Hornets with 14 first-half points before finishing with a season-high 20 points. Kuhns had her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. No other Hornet scored more than five points. Alle Moreno tied her career-high with nine rebounds. Montana had nine players score five-or-more points, led by Katie Baker's 12. Baker, Alyssa Smith and Carly Selvig each had a team-high nine rebounds.
POSSESSIONS PER 40 MINUTES
According to WBBState.com, Sacramento State ranks third in the NCAA and first in the Big Sky for possessions per 40 minutes. The Hornets average 81.0 possessions per 40 minutes. Only San Jose State (85.2) and Troy (82.5) rank ahead of Sacramento State.
KUHNS IN REBOUND RANKINGS
Kylie Kuhns ranks first in the Big Sky Conference and No. 20 in the nation this season, averaging 10.9 rebounds per game. Kuhns checked in at No. 6 in the nation last season with 11.6 rebounds per game and was No. 12 as a sophomore at 11.0 boards per game. Kuhns has reached 10+ rebounds in 66 career games and 17 games this season. Kuhns has grabbed at least one rebound in every single game of her illustrious career.
KUHNS A DOUBLE-DOUBLE MACHINE
Kylie Kuhns has 49 career double-doubles and 13 this season. Last weekend, she posted 20 points and 20 rebounds in a win at Weber State on Thursday but fell short of a double-double with 22 points and seven rebounds in a loss at Idaho State. She ranked No. 3 in the NCAA and led the league as a junior last season with 21 double-doubles. Kuhns paced the Big Sky with 13 double-doubles as a sophomore and posted two in her freshman campaign. Last season Kuhns had a double-double in all but 10 games and posted a season-long streak of 13 straight games.
Sacramento State is once again at the top of the Big Sky in scoring this year, averaging 72.3 points per game. That total checks in at No. 21 in the NCAA. The Hornets scored a season-high 103 points against Weber State on Jan. 19 and 93 in a win over Southern Utah on Feb. 2. The Hornets ranked No. 1 in the Big Sky in scoring in each of head coach Jamie Craighead's first three seasons. Last year the Hornets ranked No. 28 in the NCAA averaging 71.7 points per game. Before that, the Hornets averaged 70.2 points per game during the 2010-11 season and put up a whopping 79.1 points per game in 2009-10, which ranked No. 6 in the nation.
A HELPING HAND
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky and ranks No. 12 in the NCAA, averaging 16.8 assists per game. Point guard Fantasia Hilliard leads the conference, individually, and ranks No. 20 in the NCAA with 6.0 assists per game this year. Sacramento State ranked No. 5 in the NCAA, averaging 17.7 assists per game last season. Hilliard ranked No. 2 in the Big Sky and No. 37 in the NCAA with 4.8 assists per game and also became the fifth player in school history to reach 150 assists in a single season. Hilliard has 163 assists thus far in 2012-13 and 313 in her career, the fourth most in program history.
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in blocked shots and steals per game this year. The Hornets are averaging 6.1 blocks per game, which ranks No. 3 in the NCAA. The big reason why, literally and figuratively is Megan Kritscher, who is third in the nation with 3.78 blocks per game. At 11.8 steals per game, Sacramento State checks in at No. 1 in the Big Sky and No. 22 in the NCAA. The trio of Se'nyce Parrish (2.4, T-2nd), Fantasia Hilliard (2.3, 5th) and Alle Moreno (2.1, 6th) all rank in the top-10 individually in the Big Sky in steals per game. Sacramento State set new program bests in both steals and blocked shots last season. The Hornets tallied 401 steals and ranked No. 6 in the NCAA at 12.9 per game. They also recorded 147 total blocks and ranked No. 40 in the nation at 4.7 per game.
Senior Kylie Kuhns will likely make her 88th consecutive start and the 91st overall on Thursday night against Montana State. Both marks are team-highs. Kuhns made three scattered starts as a freshman but has started every contest since the beginning of her sophomore season. Sophomore Fantasia Hilliard has started 58 straight games, every contest since arriving on campus. Junior Alle Moreno is just behind with 57 straight starts. Se'nyce Parrish is now a fixture in the lineup and has made 25 consecutive starts this season.