TRUJILLO ALTO, Puerto Rico. – The Sacramento State women's basketball team (2-9) took the court for their second and final game in Puerto Rico this afternoon, taking on the Northern Illinois Huskies (8-2). Despite a strong effort by the trio of Maranne Johnson, Kennedy Nicholas, and Hannah Friend, the Hornets came up short, falling to NIU 84-75.
Maranne Johnson had her best game of the year, scoring 29 points on 11-of-21 (52.4%) shooting while pulling in 10 rebounds. The 29 points are a new season-high (previous, 28 vs. UC Riverside) and her 10 rebounds matched her career-best (last at Montana, 2/16/17). Seven of her ten boards came in the first half, while 17 or her points came in the second half, including a 14-point fourth quarter.
Most of Johnson's scoring came from beyond the three-point line, where she was 7-for-13 (53.8%). The seven made threes are her most in a game this year, passing her previous high of four.
Kennedy Nicholas picked up her second double-double in her last three games, scoring 10 points and pulling in 10 boards, five of which came on the offensive end. In her last four games, Nicholas is averaging 10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 29.3 minutes per game.
Although she didn't also post a double-double, sophomore Hannah Friend had another great game for the Hornets, scoring 22 points on 8-for-22 (36.4%) from the floor. She also pulled down seven rebounds. Friend has scored 22 or more points in four of her last six games.
Sacramento State fell behind early in this one, trailing by 11 after the first quarter. They kept things level, and took an 11-point deficit into half time. The team started to come alive, in part thanks to Johnson's sharp outside shooting, and cut the deficit to as little as seven with seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter. That was as close as it would get, however, and the Hornets took their second loss in Puerto Rico.
Overall, the Hornets shot 37.2% (29-78) from the floor, one of their better marks this season. As a team, they pulled in 48 rebounds, just one shy of their season-high. They totaled nine steals and had eight assists. They also forced 15 Northern Illinois turnovers.
Like Sacramento, Northern Illinois had two players hit the 20-point mark, both Courtney Woods and Kelly Smith. The NIU bench was a major factor in the game, outscoring the Sacramento State bench 16-3. Overall, NIU shot 45.5% from the floor (30-for-66) and an incredible 45.2% (14-for-31) from beyond the arc.
Today's game was Sacramento State second and final game in Puerto Rico. They return to Sacramento on Friday and will have the Christmas holiday off before traveling to Portland to take on Portland State University in their Big Sky Conference opener. That game is set for Saturday, Dec. 30. Tip is scheduled at 1:05 PM PT.
Before that, however, the Sacramento State women's basketball team will travel to Humaco, Puerto Rico to help prepare donations for the community still very much feeling the effects of Hurricane Maria.