SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State Women's Basketball team travels north to Reno to participate in the annual Nugget Classic over Thanksgiving weekend. The Hornets start with a game on Friday against the host Wolf Pack and will take on either SMU or UC Riverside on Sunday. A full schedule for the tournament is available online.
The Nugget Classic
The Nugget Classic is an annual tournament held at Nevada's Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. This year, the tournament includes four teams: the Sacramento State Hornets, the Nevada Wolfpack, the SMU Mustangs, and the UC Riverside Highlanders. Sacramento State takes on Nevada on Friday, Nov. 24 at 2 pm. They will then face either SMU or UC Riverside on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 11:30 am. This is Sacramento State's fourth Thanksgiving tournament in Reno ('91, '92, '98).
The Starting Five
• Sophomore guard Hannah Friend scored 20 points in the team's last game against Arizona State, her first 20-point performance this season and the first of her career. She finished one rebound short of her first career double-double.
• Freshman Dana DeGraffenreid is averaging an even 11.0 points per game and has scored in double digits in each of her first four career games.
• With 30 combined points in their last game, newcomers have accounted for 44% of Sacramento State's total points so far this season.
• Sacramento State is 0-4 for the first time ever under current head coach Bunky Harkleroad. The Hornets have not started a season 0-5 since the 2003-04 season, a year during which they finished 1-26.
• Nevada enters the 2017 Nugget Classic with a 1-2 record, their lone win over the Big Sky's Portland State (67-55). They are averaging 66.7 points per game.
How To Watch
The Nugget Classic can be seen live online by visiting NevadaWolfPack.TV. Games that do not involve Nevada will be streamed online at PassThaBall.com, a third-party women's hoops site. Live stats for all Hornets games will also be available online by visiting the women's basketball schedule at hornetsports.com.
About Last Game
Less than a week after taking on #12 West Virginia, the Sacramento State Hornets traveled to Arizona State to face a Sun Devils team that was receiving votes and the first team outside of the top 25. It was a battle for Sacramento State, who, after hanging for a quarter, ultimately dropped their fourth straight game, 106-58. Hannah Friend was just one rebound shy of her first career double-double, leading the team with 20 points and nine boards.
Nevada finished last year's season 11-19 (5-14 MWC). They are the first non-postseason team that the Hornets will face this season. At the helm for the Wolf Pack is first-year coach Amanda Levens, previously an assistant coach at ASU. On the court, the Wolf Pack are lead by Terae Briggs and T Moe, each averaging 11.0 points per game. Briggs leads the two with two double-digit point performances so far this season. Nevada's lone win this season came against Portland State, one of Sacramento State's Big Sky Conference rivals. For the season, Nevada is averaging 66.7 points per game while shooting .387 from the floor. Nevada and Sacramento State have a long standing history between them at 28 games. They have a deep bench with 10 of 13 active players averaging double-digit minutes through three games. Nevada owns the all-time series record with 17 wins and 11 losses. The Wolf Pack also have an 11-game winning streak going over the Hornets, dating back to 1996-97.
SMU finished last year's season 19-15 (7-9 AAC), including an AAC tournament win and two wins in the WNIT. The Mustangs entered the AAC tournament as the No. 6 seed and defeated the No. 11 seed East Carolina before falling to the No. 3 seed USF in the AAC quarterfinals. SMU then entered the 2017 WNIT for the eighth time. The team went on a roll, defeating Louisiana Tech and Abilene Christian before falling in the third round to Indiana. . The Mustangs are led by second-year head coach Travis Mays. On the court, the team is led by McKenzie Adams, whose 37.4 minutes/game and 20.8 points/game are both tops on the SMU squad. The senior guard is shooting .306 from the field and .348 (8-23) from three-point range. SMU enters the tournament with a 2-3 record. Their two wins are both at home, one over Nichols (68-60) and another over Abilene Christian. A matchup against SMU would be the first in Sacramento State's program history.
Scouting UC Riverside
UC Riverside wrapped last year's season with a 16-15 record (9-7 BWC), including a dominant 92-60 postseason win over Long Beach in the Big West Conference tournament. The Highlanders enter the Nugget Classic with a 1-3 record, their lone win coming on the road against Fresno State, 68-56. UC Riverside has played a tough non-conference schedule to start that year, including games on the road at USC and at #14 Stanford. The Highlanders are averaging 54.0 points per game and are led on the court by Michelle Curry, whose 12.5 points/game are tops on the squad. Lewis Skylar is pulling down an average 7.5 boards per game to lead the Highlanders. At the helm for UC Riverside is 14th-year head coach John Margaritis, a two-time Big West Conference Coach of the Year (2007, 2016). Should the Hornets face the Highlanders in Sunday's game, it would be the sixth matchup between the two teams. UC Riverside holds the all-time edge, 2-3.
Good For Twenty
Sophomore guard Hanna Friend put up 20 points in the team's last game, her first 20-point performance of the season and the team's second. Senior guard Maranne Johnson scored 20 against West Virginia earlier this year. She also led the team with 20 or more points in eight games last season and has 19 such games for her career. Tiara Scott is the only other Hornets player with a 20-point game in her career (25, 2/18/17 vs. Montana State).
Hannah Friend finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in her last game, coming up one rebound shy of what would have been her first career double-double. In Sacramento's exhibition game this season, Friend scored 21 points while pulling in 10 rebounds. While a freshman at Delaware, Friend scored 10 points twice but never had more than eight rebounds.
Making Double-Digits Look Easy
Dana DeGraffenreid has had no problem putting up points through her first four career games. The freshman guard is averaging 11.0 points while scoring double-digit points in each of her first four games. She scored a career-high 13 against Morehead and is shooting 34.1% for the season.
Newcomers Coming On
Newcomers Hannah Friend (57 points), Dana DeGraffenreid (44 points), and Tiana Johnson (8 points) have combined to score 109 points through the team's first four games, 44% of the team's total points during that time. Friend leads the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game while DeGraffenreid's 11.0 points per game is third highest on the team.
Sacramento State enters this weekend's tournament top-5 in the Big Sky Conference in a number of categories. They lead the BSC in three-point field goal attempts with 109, are third in turnovers forced per game with 15.75, and fourth in steals (33), steals per game (8.3) and three-point defense (30.8). The team's 109 three-point field goal attempts are 22nd most in the nation among NCAA Div. I, their only top-50 national ranking.
Individually, senior guard Maranne Johnson leads the Big Sky Conference in both field goal attempts (71) and three-point field goal attempts (34). Those numbers rank her 27th and 31st, respectively, in NCAA Div. I. Sophomore guard ranks top-10 in both of those categories, as well, ranking eighth in the conference with 53 field goal attempts and ranking sixth with 26 three-point attempts. Freshman guard Dana DeGraffenreid also cracks the Big Sky Conference Top 10, ranking ninth with 2.0 steals per game through four games.
On The Road
The 2017-18 Hornets squad is one that will be well travelled before long. The team's first seven games of the season are on the road and 11 of their first 12 will take place away from the Nest. Their season-opening road trip called for four games - three on the east coast, one on the west coast - in a span of just nine days. So far, the Hornets are 0-4 on the road. Last season, Sacramento State was 4-8 on the road and 0-3 at neutral sites. This weekend's games will be the first at a neutral site for the Hornets this season.
Ranked or Receiving Votes
Sacramento State opened the 2017-18 season with not just their toughest travel schedule, but also their toughest competition. The Hornets opened on the road against a Kentucky team that was receiving votes and is now ranked #20 in the nation. They followed that with a game at #12 West Virginia (now #11) and then returned west to take on an ASU team that was also receiving votes and is now ranked #24. Chances are good that they'll have at least one more game against a team that is ranked or receiving votes when they take on Miami in the Puerto Rico Tournament in December.
Ranked Opponents Overall
After taking a loss against #12 West Virginia, Sacramento State is now just 1-6 all-time against NCAA Div. I ranked teams. Their only win against a ranked opponent is also their first game against a ranked opponent, when they defeated #20 Texas 88-85 in their first game of the 1994-95 season.
A Growing Margin
Sacramento State has lost their last two games by an average of 51 points. Their 54-point loss at #12 West Virginia was their largest deficit since falling to #15 Oklahoma 117-55 (62 points) in 2011. The Hornets have a -34.2 scoring margin after four games.
Regulars At The Start
Four games into the season, the Sacramento State Hornets have used the same five starters in every game. Last season, coach Harkleroad used 25 different starting lineups. Bunky has often based his starters on last game's stats, though this year appears to be sticking with a consistent starting five: Justyce Dawson, Dana DeGraffenreid, Kyhonta Doughty, Hannah Friend, and Maranne Johnson.
Minutes Starting to Mount
Four different returners have set new career-highs in minutes played through the team's first four games. Maranne Johnson, whose previous high was 35 minutes played, passed that mark by playing all 40 minutes of Sacramento State's game at West Virginia. That same game, senior point guard Justyce Dawson set a career-high with 35 minutes played. Tiara Scott played a career-high 27 minutes against Arizona State and Kennedy Nicholas set a new career mark with 20 minutes played at Kentucky.
Through the first four games of the season, the Hornets have four different starters who are averaging over 25 minutes per game: Maranne Johnson (33.5), Justyce Dawson (30.8), Dana DeGraffenreid (29.5), and Hannah Friend (26.5). Last season, the team had just one player average 25 minutes or more: Johnson (25.0).
25 To A Quarter
Offensively, Sacramento State has not put up 25 points in a single quarter yet this season. In their first quarter of play against Kentucky, they scored 24, their most in a single quarter this year. Defensively, the Hornets have allowed 25 or more points in seven quarters. In 16 quarters of play, the Hornets have only scored 20 points or more three times.
Three Points History
Senior guard Maranne Johnson made 93 three-pointers last season, setting a new single-season record for Sacramento State women's basketball. The previous record was 86 and was held by both Brianna Burgos (2016-17) and Hallie Gennett (2015-16). Johnson made 76 three-pointers her sophomore year and now has 229 in her career. She is just one of two players to ever break the 200-mark. With nine made three-pointers so far this season, she is just nine made three-pointers behind Alle Moreno's program career record of 238 career threes.
In addition to chasing the program record for career made three-pointers, Maranne Johnson also enters the season second in career steals. After an 87-steal season last year, Johnson entered this season with 248 steals in her career. With six steals already this season, Johnson is poised to overtake the all-time program leader Fantasia Hilliard, who has 308.
The Hornets return just two starters from last year's postseason squad: senior guards Maranne Johnson and Justyce Dawson. Johnson led the team in scoring last season, averaging 15.0 points per game. She was also the team's leading three-point shooter, shooting 33% from outside the arc. She was top-20 in NCAA Div. I in three-pointers attempted (10th, 282), three-pointers made (20th, 93), and three-pointers made per game (13th, 3.10). Dawson, a 5-4 point guard, led the club in assists, average 4.3 per game. With 130 assists all season compared to just 47 turnovers, Dawson was 11th in NCAA Div. I with a 2.77 assist/turnover ratio. Among those returning to NCAA play this year, Dawson's 2.77 mark is the fifth best in the nation.
A Young Squad
Sacramento State's roster features five newcomers and two returning from redshirt seasons. Among the seven total players joining the roster this season, four are true freshmen: Tiana Johnson, Dana DeGraffenreid, Anna Weibel, and Skylar Jackson. Of the 13 players on the roster, eight are underclassmen.
The Nation's Best
For the fourth straight season, Sacramento State led NCAA Div. I in three-pointers made per game (10.7). The Hornets set and all-time NCAA Div. I record when scoring 12.5 3FG/game in both 2015-16 and 2016-17. Top-25 Finishes Sacramento State finished in the top-10 in multiple stats per game last season, including steals (3rd, 12.3), turnovers (7th, 21.13), offensive rebounds (5th, 18), and overall scoring (8th, 82.4). Since the arrival of Coach Harkleroad, the Hornets have finished top-5 in steals for four straight seasons, including first from 2013-16.
Happy To Share
Senior point guard Justyce Dawson led the Big Sky and ranked 11th in NCAA Div. I with a 2.77 assist to turnover ratio last season. Among returners in NCAA Div. I women's basketball, Dawson's 2.77 assist/to number ranks fifth. She had a career-high 13 assists last season at Southern Utah, the second most assists in a game in program history and the most by a Hornets player in the Div. I era. She has 224 career assists and is just outside the top-10 all-time.
All The Threes
The Hornets knocked down 21 threes in two games last season, the most by a team in NCAA Div. I. Sacramento hold the NCAA Div. I record for three-pointers made in a game with 25, a feat they achieved twice during the 2015-16 season. Sacramento State owns the NCAA Div. I record for both three-pointers made (25) and three-pointers attempted (80) in a single game.
Presence in the Post
While Coach Harkleroad has built his program around "The System," a style of play that calls for aggressive traps, steals, and lots of quick outside shots, the Hornets have one of their tallest teams in recent history, averaging 5-9 across the roster. Senior Kyhonta Doughty, a 6-1 forward is back from injury while sophomore guard Hannah Friend (6-0) is back after redshirting last season. They are joined by freshmen newcomers Tiana Johnson (6-2) and Anna Weibel (6-3) and returning sophomore Kennedy Nicholas (6-3) as the six-footers on the roster. With the added height, the Hornets could see more post-play this season than in years past.
Sacramento State enters the 2017-18 season having led the Big Sky in scoring for eight straight seasons. Last year, their 82.4 points per game were 10.2 more than second-place Montana State (72.2 ppg). Their 82.4 ppg was the eighth highest in the nation.
Big Sky Preseason Polls
Sacramento State was picked to finish 10th in the Big Sky preseason media poll and ninth in the coaches' poll. The Hornets earned 61 points in the media poll, just five behind Weber State and 27 ahead of Northern Arizona. In the coaches' poll, Sacramento State received 37 points, 26 back of Idaho State and three ahead of Weber State. The polls were unanimous on the Big Sky Champion, with Northern Colorado taking the top spot in both. North Dakota was selected to finish second in both polls, as well.
-- HornetSports --