SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (7-22, 5-13 Big Sky) heads to the Big Sky Tournament in Reno as the No. 9 seed and will face 8th-seeded Montana Lady Griz (13-16, 9-9 Big Sky) at noon on Monday, March 5. With a win, the Hornets would advance to face the top-seeded Northern Colorado Bears in the quarterfinals at noon on Wednesday, March 7.
How To Watch
All games during the Big Sky Conference Tournament will be available on Pluto TV, channel 231 and on WatchBigSky.com. Eleven Sports will air the women's semifinal and championship games.
Pluto TV/Watch Big Sky Boradcasters – Jon Oglesby & Krista Redpath
Eleven Sports Broadcasters – Ann Schatz & Krista Redpath
A full schedule of game times can be found online at RoadToReno.com
The Starting Five
- The Hornets finished the regular season tied for ninth place North Dakota with a 5-13 Big Sky Conference record. Sacramento state defeated North Dakota this past Wednesday, giving them the tiebreaker and securing the ninth seed, while North Dakota enters the tournament as the 10.
- The Hornets have been the nine seed heading into the Big Sky Conference Tournament in back-to-back seasons. Last year, Sacramento State finished the season tied for eighth in the conference with Weber State, but because of tiebreakers, came into the tourney as the nine seed.
- Sacramento State has won a Big Sky Tournament game in two of the last three seasons and in four of the last six years. The Hornets have advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament three times in the last six seasons but have never reached the Big Sky Tournament title game.
- The Hornets enter the Big Sky Tournament leading the conference in turnover margin with a 2.57 mark. They are also top three in the Big Sky in scoring offense (71.8, 3rd), steals per game (8.9, 3rd), and total steals (258, 3rd).
- Sacramento State has faced Montana just once this season, defeating the Lady Griz 79-64 at home on Feb. 10. The Hornets shot 44.9% (31-69) in the win, one of its best percentages of the season.
By The Numbers
4: Big Sky Tournament wins over the last six seasons for Sacramento State after having never previously won a Big Sky Tournament game.
2.6: Sacramento State's turnover margin entering the 2017-18 Big Sky Tournament. That number is the best in the conference.
9: Active players on the Hornets roster. The team has been plagued by injuries and enters the conference tournament with nine players.
Sacramento State finishes the regular season as the nine seed in the Big Sky Conference. They will go up against the 8th-seeded Montana on Monday, March 5 at noon in the first game of the tournament. The winner of Monday's contest will take on the top-seeded Northern Colorado Bears on Wednesday in the tournament's quarterfinals. Semifinals will be played on Friday with the title game scheduled for Saturday.
The Hornets enter the 2017-18 Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 4-10 all-time Big Sky tournament record. Their last win came in the 2015-16 tournament, a convincing 102-89 win over Southern Utah. Prior that that, the Hornets won a game in each of the 2014-15, 2012-13, and 2011-12. Last season, Sacramento State dropped a heartbreaker in overtime, falling to Weber State 98-97. Since the tournament moved to Reno, the Hornets are 1-2 in postseason play.
Last Time at the Tourney
Sacramento State's last tournament game ended in heartbreaking fashion as the Hornets fell 98-97 in overtime against Weber State. A No. 9 seed, Sacramento State took a 69-62 lead over No. 8 Weber State into the third quarter. They watched as that lead slowly dropped to four with 18 seconds to play before Weber State made back-to-back lay ups to end regulation. Weber State took advantage of free throws to get the edge in the overtime period. The Hornets had the game's last possession, but a Maranne Johnson three-ball was just off the mark as time ran out.
Going Out With a Bang
Senior point guard Maranne Johnson put together an incredible senior season to cap a historic career at Sacramento State for the Hornets. Johnson enters her final Big Sky Conference Tournament with 1,597 career points, third most in Sacramento State History and 16th most in Big Sky history.
She scored a career-high 41 points against Northern Arizona, setting a new school and Big Sky record for points scored in a conference game.
A prolific shooter, Johnson comes into this week's tournament with 304 career threes, the most in both Sacramento State women's basketball and Big Sky Conference history.
Additionally, she became the Sacramento State leader for career steals and is third in the Big Sky with 322.
Sacramento State's Tag Team
Sophomore guard Hannah Friend and senior guard Maranne Johnson combined for one of the best 1-2 punches in all of the Big Sky Conference this season. The two lead the Hornets in scoring and minutes played and rank in the top 10 in multiple offensive categories. Among others, they are top-10 in...
Field Goals Attempted: Friend, 484, 3rd; Johnson, 470, 4th
Field Goals Made: Friend, 181, 4th; Johnson, 175, 6th
Final Points: Friend, 511, 5th; Johnson, 475, 8th
Points Per Game: Friend, 17.6, 6th; Johnson, 16.4, 10th
The duo combined for 64 points (Johnson 41, Friend 23) against Northern Arizona on Feb. 22, setting a new Sacramento State record for points by a duo in a conference game (non-conference record is 70: Kristy Ryan, 45; Sarah Stapp, 25; set in 1993 at UC Irvine.)
Sacramento State continued to up the difficulty of their non-conference scheduling, playing 10 of their 11 non-conference games on the road, including one against a ranked opponent and three others against opponents receiving votes. They played at #12 West Virginia, at Kentucky, at Arizona State, and against Miami at a neutral site.
Second Half Strong
After struggling to a 1-8 Big Sky record through the first half of their conference schedule, Sacramento State has turned things around in the second half, playing to a 4-5 record in their final nine games of the regular season. As a team, the Hornets averaged just 67.6 points per game on 37.5% shooting in the first half compared to 76.2 points per game on 40.1 shooting in the second half.
Puerto Rico Tournament
Sacramento State traveled to Puerto Rico for a two-game tournament from Dec 16-23 earlier this season. The week-long trip ended in an 0-2 record for the Hornets, but the team also had a chance to visit the University of Puerto Rico - Humacao. While there, the team had an opportunity to deliver supplies and donations to the students on campus. They also spent time with the UPRH women's basketball team while seeing first-hand the effects of Hurricane Maria on the lives of the students.
Holding on to the Ball
The Hornets have been one of the best teams in the country at not turning the ball over this season, ranking 54th in NCAA Div. I with just 393 turnovers this year.
Both Justyce Dawson and Taira Scott rank among the top 10 in the Big Sky for in assist-to-turnover ratio. Dawson is second in the conference with a 2.34 mark while Scott ranks sixth at 1.62. Maranne Johnson is just outside the top 10 with a 1.20 mark.
Leaders Among Their Peers
- Maranne Johnson leads all Big Sky seniors with 2.6 steals per game.
- Hannah Friend leads all Big Sky sophomores with 17.6 points per game.
Sacramento State started the season with just 13 on their roster, only 12 of which were active. Of those 12, Skylar Jackson has missed the entire season while Tiana Johnson has missed all but the season's first two games. Dana DeGraffenreid, who led all Big Sky freshmen with 10.2 points and 2.7 steals per game, has not played since Jan. 4 due to injury. Over the course of the season, Sacramento State has played 16 of 18 conference games with nine active players and six of 18 with just eight active players. Kyhonta Doughty, excepted to be a regular starter in the post, missed six conference games while being limited in all the others.
Struggles Away from the Nest
The Hornets have been two very different teams at home compared to on the road. In the Nest, Sacramento State is 5-5 while averaging 78.1 points on 41.5% shooting. On the road - including games at neutral sites - the Hornets are 2-17, averaging 68.4 points on 35.7% shooting while allowing over 85 points to opponents per game.
At the start of the season, Sacramento State was picked to finish 10th in the Big Sky in the preseason media poll and ninth in the preseason coaches poll. The predictions proved accurate, as Sacramento State closes the regular season tied for ninth in the conference.
Kenned Nicholas broke onto the scene in a big way during her second season with Sacramento State. The sophomore forward has career-highs in nearly every category this season, averaging 7.5 points, 23.8 minutes, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game this season. She has five double-doubles on the year, most on the team and tied for the sixth most in the conference.
Quiet (Sort Of) From Three
After leading all of NCAA Div. I in three-pointers made per game over the last four seasons, Sacramento State fell to 28th in that category for the 2017-18 season with an 8.8 3pfg/game. Their 250 made threes and 824 attempted threes are both team-lows since the start of the Bunky Harkleroad era at Sacramento State in 2013-14. Despite the decline, the Hornets are still one of the top three-point shooting teams in the country.
No Give, All Take
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky Conference with a 2.28 turnover margin this season. That number is also 87th in all of NCAA Div. I. The Hornets average 13.5 turnovers per game this season while their opponents average a 15.8 mark.
Sacramento State Top-10 Watch: Points
Maranne Johnson is currently third all-time with 1,597 points for her career. She is 132 points back of Heidi Carroll (1982-86) and her 1,729 career points.
Sacramento State Top-10 Watch: Assists
Justyce Dawson is fifth for most career assists in Sacramento State women's basketball program history with 306. The senior point guard is 60 back of Julie Wastell (366, 1995-99).
Sacramento State Top-10 Watch: Field Goals
Maranne Johnson is fourth all-time for made field goals in Hornets women's basketball program history. Her 596 made field goals are six back of Heidi Carroll's (1982-86) 602.
-- HornetSports --