OREM, Utah – In a game with 12 ties and 15 lead changes Sacramento State erased a late two-point deficit with an 8-1 run in the final two minutes to claim an 87-84 win over Utah Valley on Wednesday afternoon in Orem, Utah. The Hornets improved to 4-1 as the Wolverines dropped to 1-5.
"You have to give Utah Valley a lot of credit because they did a good job with their game plan and slowing us down," Sacramento State head coach Bunky Harkleroad said. "I'm very proud of our team in the way we didn't let frustration overcome us. We stayed positive and we were fortunate enough to get a win."
A Utah Valley 3-point play gave the home team an 81-79 lead with 2:32 remaining in the contest. From there the Wolverines missed four straight shots with just one free throw make and had two turnovers, while the Hornets got an offensive-rebound put back by junior Takara Burse and went 6-of-8 from the free throw line to go up 87-82. The Wolverines got a last-second layup that proved inconsequential as the Hornets held on for the victory.
"Our players did a great job staying with it and making plays and making shots," Harkleroad said. "We were able to get going at the end and really did a good job on the defensive glass at the end of the game as well."
Burse scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half while adding nine rebounds in a career-high 29 minutes played. She was one of four Hornets to finish in double-figures as freshman Hallie Gennett hit five 3-pointers and totaled a team-high 22 points, senior Alle Moreno finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Gigi Hascheff struck for 16 points and had a game-high four steals.
The Hornets hit 11 three's as a team as the squad has made at least 11 shots from long range in every game this season. The team had a 51-40 rebounding edge with 21 offensive boards leading to a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points and making up for Utah Valley's .491-.372 edge in field goal percentage by taking 23 more shots. Sacramento State again had a positive turnover ratio at +4 and outscored Utah Valley 18-4 in points off turnovers.
Neither team led by more than four points in a tight first half until a 3-pointer by Gennett gave Sacramento State a 27-21 advantage with 6:49 remaining in the opening half. The Hornets still led by five with less than three minutes remaining before the Wolverines ended the half on a 14-7 run to take a 40-38 halftime lead, shooting 53.6% in the first period.
Sacramento State leveled the score at 40 with the first basket of the second half, but Utah Valley responded with an 11-3 run, extending its spurt into halftime to 25-10, to take a game-high eight point lead at 51-43. The Hornets then scored 10 of the next 11 points to regain the lead, and from there neither team was able to pull away until the Hornets made their late run to secure the win.
Three Hornets fouled out of the contest after only one such occurrence happened through the team's first four games of the season. Utah Valley also had two disqualifications as the squads were whistled for 54 total fouls in the game. Sacramento State allowed a season-high 41 opponent free throws but the Wolverines made just 27 of them while the visitors went 18-of-27 from the line.
Utah Valley scored exactly half of its points in the paint and shot 24-of-45 (53.3%) on two-point shots but was just 3-of-10 from three-point range. Freshman Rhaiah Spooner-Knight totaled 23 points and nine rebounds and sophomore Katie Kuklok had 20 points and eight boards to lead the Wolverines.
Sacramento State returns home for its next three contests in The Nest. The Hornets will host St. Mary's next Thursday, Dec. 5, and face former coach Jamie Craighead and her San Jose State team on Saturday, Dec. 7.