SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (4-1) opens a stretch of seven of eight games on its home floor as the Hornets take on undefeated Saint Mary's (7-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday in The Nest. The Hornets also play at home on Saturday as they welcome former head coach Jamie Craighead and San José State (4-4) for a 2 p.m. contest.
The Hornets lead all of NCAA Div. I with 13.8 three-point makes per game and have scored 46.1% of their total points this season on 3-pointers (just 37.4% on 2-point shots)...Sacramento State is +8.6 in turnover margin and has outscored its opposition 105-61 on points off turnovers this season while averaging 14 more shots per game than its opponents...Through five games Sacramento State also leads the Big Sky in points (89.8/gm), assists (20.0/gm), steals (15.2/gm), rebounds (47.4/gm), and opponent 3-point percentage (.238)...The Hornets have broken the single game school record for 3-pointers twice this season and now hold Big Sky game records in 3-point makes (18) and attempts (49).
All Sacramento State home games and all Big Sky games have a free live video stream available at WatchBigSky.com. Both games this week will also stream live on HornetSports.com/Radio with Brian Berger on the call on Thursday and Nate Goodyear providing the play-by-play on Saturday. Live stats are available above and for more content and game updates like Sacramento State Athletics on facebook and follow @HornetSports and #BigSkyWBB on twitter.
Scouting Saint Mary's (7-0)
Saint Mary's is one of 23 remaining undefeated teams in NCAA Div. I, having outscored its opposition by 12.0 points per game this season. The Gaels rank 10th in the NCAA in three-point percentage (.416) but are averaging just over five 3-point makes per game. The squad is averaging 83.7 points per game this season and has a +12.0 rebounding margin. Junior forward Danielle Mauldin ranks third in the country with 14.0 rebounds per game while scoring 18.7 points per game and totaling five double-doubles. The team has four players averaging 14 or more points, led by 23.0 points per game from senior Jackie Nared. Saint Mary's has won all 16 matchups with the Hornets since the move to Div. I (1991).
Scouting San José State (4-4)
San José State dropped to 4-4 this season after a 40-point loss, 113-73, at No. 9 Baylor on Tuesday. The Spartans have used just eight players in each of their last four games and have had no other dressed players. In its four wins San Jose State has averaged 96.3 points per game, but in its four losses the team has scored only 67.0 points per game. First-year head coach Jamie Craighead spent the last four seasons leading the Hornets, compiling a 57-71 record and leading the Hornets to a 19-12 record last year to tie for the team's most wins in program history. She faces her former team less than three months after she announced her resignation to take over the head job with the Spartans on Sept. 16.
Historic three-point shooting has been a catalyst to the Hornets early success, as the team leads all of NCAA Div. I with 13.8 three-pointers made per game. The squad twice broke the single-game program record in 3-point makes, hitting 17 threes against Cal State Northridge and 18 threes against San Diego State. The Hornets also broke the Big Sky record with 18 3-point makes and 49 3-point attempts against San Diego State, a number the team matched at Oregon. Sacramento State is shooting 32.5% from three-point range and has had 10 different players make at least one three, including six with seven or more three-point makes already this season. The Hornets have scored 207 of 449 total points this season on 3-pointers, as 69 made long balls have accounted for 46.1% of the team's points while just 37.4% of the points have come on 2-pointers.
While lighting up the scoreboard from beyond the arc on the offensive end, the Hornets have also shut down opponent 3-point tries on the defensive end. The Hornets have posted a Big Sky-best .238 opponent three-point percentage and have allowed just 19 opponent three's through five games. Four of Sacramento State's five opponents have shot .300 or lower from long range, with the only higher mark coming when San Diego State made just two 3's in five attempts. The Hornets have made 50 more three-pointers than their opposition (69-19) and have outscored opponents 207-57 overall from beyond the arc.
To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn
Over the last three seasons Sacramento State improved its turnover margin from -3.1 to +1.8 to +3.8, and so far this season that number has skyrocketed. Through five games the Hornets are +8.6 in turnover margin to lead the Big Sky and rank 10th in all of NCAA Div. 1. The margin of nearly nine turnovers a game has enabled the Hornets to attempt 14.0 more shots per game than their opponents, as the squad is +44 this year in points off turnovers (105-61) and has scored nearly 25% of its total points off of opponent giveaways. Sacramento State also ranks 25th in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.20).
'Burse'ting onto the Scene
Junior guard Takara "TK" Burse has arguably been Sacramento State's most consistent performer this season on both ends of the floor. She has started four of five games and is the only Hornet to score seven or more points and grab four or more rebounds in every game this season. Burse established new career highs with 15 points and 11 rebounds and had a team season-best six steals against San Diego State. On the season she is tied for the team lead with 12 steals, ranks second with 7.0 rebounds per game, and is third with 10.4 points per game. After playing just 5.8 minutes per game through her first two seasons, Burse ranks second on the team with 24.0 minutes per game this year.
Sacramento State's points scored this season is split nearly 50-50 between starters and bench players. Through five games the starters have scored 232 points and the bench has scored 217, with the starters accounting for just 51.2% of the points. Ten players have made at least one start, as each game's starters are selected based on statistics from the previous game. The difference between the abilities of all 10 players in the rotation is minimal, with nine or 10 players splitting time evenly in each game. Different players have stepped up in each game as the distinction between starters and reserves does not fit the traditional style of substitutions and minute distribution.
The Hornets have led the Big Sky in scoring in each of the last four seasons and have taken their scoring to a new level this year. Sacramento State ranks sixth in NCAA Div. I with 89.8 points per game this season, up significantly from the 72.4 points per game the squad totaled last year. In the Hornets four victories the team has averaged 92.2 points but was held to just 80 in its lone loss at Oregon State. Sacramento State is averaging 15.6 more points per game than the second highest scoring team in the Big Sky, Montana State (74.2).
Sacramento State and Oregon combined to break the NCAA record in single-game 3-point attempts as the squads combined to shoot 86 3-pointers on Nov. 17. That shattered the previous record of 75 combined 3-point attempts set in a 1999 game between Ole Miss and Bowling Green. That game also produced the record for combined 3-pointers made with 31 but the Hornets and Ducks combined for just 18 3-point makes (11 for SAC, 7 for ORE). Neither team shot the ball well from long range (SAC 22.4%, ORE 18.9%) but that did not dissuade them from continuing to fire from deep.
Senior guard Alle Moreno became Sacramento State's all-time leading 3-point shooter on Nov. 10 when she hit her fourth of six 3-point makes against San Diego State. Moreno surpassed the previous career 3-point record of 176 set by former Hornet Kim Sheehy, who concluded her collegiate career in 2007, while she had already established a new record for career 3-point attempts during her junior year. Moreno has had the two most prolific 3-point single season totals in program history, knocking down 78 threes in 2011-12 and 77 threes last season. With 186 career 3-pointers to date Moreno is tied for 13th in Big Sky history. She is also just 45 points away from becoming the 11th player in program history to score 1,000 career points.