POCATELLO, Idaho – Sacramento State held a 34-28 halftime lead but shot 3-of-30 from the field through all but the final five seconds of the second half as Idaho State rode a strong defensive performance to a 62-53 win on Thursday in Pocatello.
The Hornets scored just 14 points through the first 19:55 of the second half before hitting a layup and a 3-pointer in the final five seconds when the Bengals had the game in hand. Sacramento State was playing without another key contributor, as junior Shanti Smith missed the contest due to injury after redshirt junior Andrea Chenier went down two weeks ago.
Sacramento State (13-5, 5-4 Big Sky) hadn't scored less than 30 points in a half this season and has scored 53 or more points in just a single half six different times this season. Idaho State (7-11, 5-4 Big Sky) remained undefeated all-time on its home floor against the Hornets while holding Sacramento State to a season-low .273 field goal percentage.
The Bengals had quick starts in each half, opening the game with an 8-0 run and taking an early 14-4 lead. Sacramento State responded with a 13-0 spurt, holding the Bengals scoreless for more than six minutes, and led into the final minutes of the opening half before Idaho State leveled the score with 3:17 to play. The Hornets closed the first half with a 10-4 run, including a last-second put back by senior Alle Moreno, to take a 34-28 halftime lead.
Sacramento State took a game-high nine point lead at 40-31 with 17:39 to play but things unraveled after that point. The Hornets went scoreless for nearly eight minutes, shooting 0-of-13 with four turnovers during the stretch, but the Bengals only scored 13 points during the dry spell to lead by just four points.
The Hornets trailed just 48-45 with 4:50 remaining, but an 11-0 Bengal run over the next two and a half minutes put the game out of reach. Idaho State led by 15 points with 25 seconds left before the Hornets scored the last six points of the contest.
Idaho State shot 57.1% for the game and scored 42 of its 62 points in the paint. Sacramento State had 20 offensive rebounds and forced 22 turnovers but had 15 of its own. The Hornets made seven 3-pointers and had 10 steals, both solid numbers but well below their NCAA-leading season averages.
Junior Fantasia Hilliard led the squad with 12 points but was credited with just one assist while Moreno finished with 11 points. With eight 3-point attempts during the game, Moreno broke the Big Sky record for career 3-point attempts, surpassing former Montana State guard Katie Bussey with 725 career 3-point shots taken.
The Hornets move on to face Weber State at 1 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday in Ogden. The Wildcats are 0-9 in the Big Sky and 4-14 overall after a 96-87 loss against Northern Arizona on Thursday.