TRUJILLO ALTO, Puerto Rico. – The Sacramento State women's basketball team opened the 2017 Puerto Rico Clasico this afternoon, taking on Miami in the tournament's first game. The Hornets battled tough conditions and a tough opponent, but dropped the tournament opener to Miami 82-56.
The game opened with an exciting first quarter that featured strong defense on both ends of the court. Sacramento State limited Miami to just six made buckets in the first period, their lowest total in the game. Sacramento State closed the first quarter on a perfectly executed play to Raegen Rohn for an easy layup.
The second quarter was another story, though, as Miami outscored the Hornets 22-8 on their way to a 40-21 halftime lead. Miami shot 61.1% to Sacramento State's 13.3% in the quarter.
Trailing by 19, the Hornets did their best to limit the damage and play catch up. Although they kept Miami from really opening the game up, the Hornets were unable to close the gap and found themselves trailing between 19 and 26 points the rest of the way.
Maranne Johnson and Hannah Friend led the team with 13 points apiece. Johnson continued to add to her career record for made threes, sinking three in tonight's game. She was 5-for-13 (38.5%) from the floor overall and pulled in five rebounds.
Friend was just 4-for-18 (22.2%) overall, but did make 4-of-7 free throws to push her to 13 points. She collected six rebounds – three of them offensive boards.
Justyce Dawson had a strong game for Sacramento State as well, playing 26 minutes and scoring 11 points.
In addition to battling a warm gym and a tough opponent, they also found themselves battling fouls, falling into trouble early. Dana DeGraffenreid (six points, three rebounds) fouled out with over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter while Kennedy Nicholas (two points, six rebounds) fouled out a few minutes later. Johnson had four fouls, as well.
Overall, the Hornets shot just 25.7% (19-74) from the floor, one of their lowest marks this season. As a team, they pulled in 40 rebounds, totaled 12 steals, and had eight assists. They also forced 25 Miami turnovers.
Miami got a great performance out of junior center Emese Hof, who scored 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting and pulled in 10 rebounds for her second double-double in as many games. As a team, the Hurricanes shot 53.1% (34-64) and did nearly all of their damage inside, scoring 54 points in the paint.
Sacramento State will get back at it on Wednesday in its second and final game of the tournament. The team will face Northern Illinois on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 pm PT.
Following Wednesday's game, the Hornets travel east to Humacao where they will work alongside other students from the University of Puerto Rico to help prepare donations for the community still very much feeling the effects of Hurricane Maria.