SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After a week in Puerto Rico for the 2017 Puerto Rico Clasico, the Sacramento State women's basketball team opens Big Sky Conference play on the road with a matchup against the Portland State Vikings on Saturday, Dec. 30.
The Starting Five
- Senior guard Maranne Johnson scored a season-high 29 points in Sacramento State's last game against Northern Illinois University. Johnson's career-high for points in a game is 37 (11/29/16 vs. Stanislaus State).
- Sophomore forward Kennedy Nicholas has recorded two double-doubles in her last three games, including a career-high 14 rebounds against San Francisco on Dec. 15. She had no double-doubles entering this season.
- Sophomore guard Hannah Friend has at least 10 points in eight straight games, the longest such streak for the Hornets this season. She has 20 or more points in five of those eight.
- Sacramento State opens conference play Saturday night against Portland State. The women's basketball team is 2-2 in conference openers under current head coach Bunky Harkleroad. They have not won a conference opener on the road since the 2012-13 season (W, 69-65 at Montana).
- Portland State enters Saturday's game having won their last three straight contests overall and their last three at home. They are 6-5 on the season and are averaging 75.6 points per game while limiting opponents to 73.5 points per game.
By The Numbers
3: The number of teams in the Big Sky conference with more 3-pt field goals per game than Sacramento State, who averages 8.5 3-pt field goals per game.
17: The number of turnovers forced by the Sacramento State women's basketball team per game, third best in the Big Sky conference.
51: The total number of points scored by Maranne Johnson against Portland State in two games last season. Johnson shot 50% from three (12-24) in those games.
Scouting Portland State
Portland State enters conference play this weekend with a 6-5 record overall and a perfect 3-0 record at home. They have won their last three straight games overall, including a 94-79 win over Ole Miss. As a team, the Vikings are averaging 75.6 points per game while holding their opponents to just 73.5 points per game. They have allowed 90 or more points just twice this season, giving up 91 to both Seattle University and Gonzaga (both losses). As a team, Portland State is shooting .422 from the floor, including .356 from beyond the arc. They are also shooting .751 from the free throw line. Portland State is led by a pair of juniors, Sidney Rielly and Ashley Bolston. Rielly is averaging 20.5 points per game through the team's first 11 games while shooting 38.5% from three. Bolston, who has only played in Portland State's last three games, is averaging 22.5 points per contest. Down low, Courtney West is averaging 7.4 rebounds and 7.7 points. At the helm for Portland State is third year coach Lynn Kennedy.
How To Watch
About Last Game
- Sacramento State dropped both games during their time in Puerto Rico for the 2017 Puerto Rico Clasico. The team struggled against a physical Miami team, managing just 56 points on 25.7% shooting. Maranne Johnson and Hannah Friend led the team with 13 points apiece.
- In their second contest, Sacramento State took on a sharp-shooting Northern Illinois team, playing them close until the games final minutes, falling 84-75. Maranne Johnson had her best game of the season, scoring a game-best 29 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 7-for-13 from beyond the arc. She also pulled in 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the year. Hannah Friend was good for 22 points and Kenned Nicholas recorded her second double-double in three games (10 points, 10 rebounds) in the loss.
Against Portland State
- The Hornets are 18-26 against Portland State since Sacramento State became Div. I during the 1991-92 season, including 8-14 in Portland.
- Sacramento State has taken six of the last seven games against the Vikings, including the last three in Portland. They have won eight of the last 10.
- The teams split the series last season, with each team winning on the road.
- The last time Sacramento State opened conference play against Portland State (2015-16 season), they scored a program- and Big Sky Conference-record 132 points. Less than a month later, Sacramento State scored 126 against the Vikings in Portland.
- Saturday's game against Portland State is Sacramento State's first Big Sky Conference matchup of the season.
- The team is 2-2 in conference openers under current head coach Bunky Harkleroad, but haven't won a conference opener on the road since the 2012-13 season.
- In their last five conference openers, the Hornets are averaging 91.2 points per game.
- Sacramento State is 7-14 all-time in Big Sky Conference openers.
Big Sky Breakdown
- The Sacramento State women's basketball team is one of four teams to enter play Saturday without a conference game under the belt. Portland State, Idaho State, and Weber State are the other three.
- Northern Colorado, Montana, Montana State, and Idaho are all 1-0 after their first Big Sky game.
- North Dakota, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah are all 0-1 after one conference game.
The Hornets got a double-double from both Maranne Johnson (29 points, 10 rebounds) and Kennedy Nicholas (10 points, 10 rebounds) in their last game against Northern Illinois University. It was the first double-double of the season for Johnson, the second for Nicholas, and the first time this season two players recorded a double-double in the same game.
Johnson's Big Game
Senior guard Maranne Johnson scored 29 points in the team's last game, a new season high. She was 11-of-21 from the floor, including 7-of-13 from three. The seven made threes are her most this year and her most since making eight against Stanislaus State in November 2016.
Grand Theft Basketball
Maranne Johnson is closing in on the program record for career steals. With four steals in Sacramento State's last game against Northern Illinois, Johnson now has 277 for her career, just 31 off the program mark of 308 (Fantasia Hilliard, 2011-15). Johnson racked up 87 steals last year and is averaging 83 a season in her career, putting her on pace for 331 in her career.
The 2017-18 Hornets squad is one that will be well travelled. The team's first seven games of the season were 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 0-7 on the road and 1-2 at a neutral site. Last season, Sacramento State was 4-8 on the road and 0-3 at neutral sites.
Minutes Starting to Mount
Nine of Sacramento State's 11 players are averaging over 17 minutes per game this season while four are averaging 26 minutes or more. Maranne Johnson (32.7), Hannah Friend (28.8), Dana DeGraffenreid (28.5), and Tiara Scott (26.13 lead the team in minutes. Last season, the team had just one player average 25 or more minutes: Maranne Johnson (25.0).
As a team, the Sacramento State Hornets are top 5 in the Big Sky Conference in 11 different categories and are ranked as high as third in four of those 11.
Among Big Sky Teams
Fewest Turnovers: 178, 5th
Rebounds/Game: 39.64, 5th
Scoring Offense: 71.5, 4th
Steals: 102, 3rd
Steals/Game: 9.3, 3rd
3-Pt FGA: 357, 2nd
3-Pt FG: 93, 4th
3-Pt FG/Game: 8.5, 4th
Turnover Margin: 0.82, 4th
Turnovers Forced/Game: 17.00, 3rd
Turnovers/Game: 16.2, 5th
Undefeated at Home
With their 95-62 win over Antelope Valley at the Nest in Sacramento, the Hornets are a perfect 1-0 at home 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 #14 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 ranked has high as #24 and is currently receiving votes.
Ranked Opponents Overall
After taking a loss against #12 West Virginia, Sacramento State is now just 1-7 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.
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 --