SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women's basketball team opened October with their first official team practice this past Monday, Oct. 1. Watch the video below for highlights and interviews with sixth year head coach Bunky Harkleroad, senior Raegen Rohn, and last year's leading scorer Hannah Friend.
Team practices will continue five days a week leading up to the team's opener one month from Friday when they host William Jessup on Monday, Nov. 5 at 7:05 p.m. The regular season begins with back-to-back home games against Cal Poly on Nov. 11 and Ohio State on Nov. 16. Five of Sacramento State's first seven games this seasonw ill be played in the Nest, including home games against San Francisco (Dec. 5) and Causeway rival UC Davis (Dev. 7).
The Hornets will play nine non-conference games (five at home, one on the road, and three on neutral courts) before opening the 20-game Big Sky Conference portion of the schedule on Dec. 29 on the road at Northern Colorado.
Quick facts on the 2018-19 Sacramento State women's basketball season can be found below.
2018-19 Sacramento State Women's Basketball Quick Facts
A Refreshed Roster
The Sacramento State women's basketball team opens the 2018-19 season with 17 active players on the roster, its most ever under head coach Bunky Harkleroad (sixth season). Last season, Sacramento State had 11 active players (plus two redshirts). Because of injuries, the Hornets spent much of the season with just eight available players.
The Hornets 2018-19 roster features nine total returners, three of which redshirted last season. Among the returners are last year's leading scorer, Hannah Friend, and last year's leading rebounder, Kennedy Nicholas.
Tiara Scott, who led the team in assists, and Raegen Rohn, who led the team with a 33% shooting percentage from three, are also back for the 2018-19 season. The returners are rounded out by Quayonna Harris and Anna Weibel, who appeared in 55 combined games last season with two starts.
Sacramento State's newcomer class is eight players deep and made up of three transfers and five incoming freshmen. The transfers include 6-4 forward Julynne da Silva Sa (Northwest College), guard Claire Bady (Eastern Florida State), and point guard Brooke Panfili (St. Edwards).
The eight-player class is the largest for coach Harkleroad since bringing in nine new players in his second season at the helm (2014-15).
After a grueling, road-heavy schedule last season that featured seven straight road games to start the year and 11 road games in the first 12, the Hornets will play a much more balanced schedule this season.
Sacramento State starts with back-to-back home games against Cal Poly and Ohio State in early November to kick off the season. The non-conference schedule also includes UC Davis, San Francisco, and Antelope Valley at home.
With the departure of North Dakota from the Big Sky, the conference portion of the schedule features an even 20 games, 10 at home and 10 on the road with every team playing each other team twice.
The Big Sky Basketball Tournament is scheduled for the week of March 11. After three seasons in Reno, Nevada, the tournament will now take place at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho.
Three of Sacramento State's newcomers are from outside the United States. Claire Bady, a transfer from Eastern Florida, is originally from France, while Emily Enochs comes to Sacramento State from Germany. Julynne de Silva Sa, a transfer from Northwest College, is originally from Brazil.
A Return to "Bunky Ball"
Coach Harkleroad and Sacramento State have become known for an aggressive style of play that features a lot of steals, multiple substitutions at a time, and even more three-point shots. For three straight seasons from 2013 through 2016, the Hornets led the NCAA in threes and steals per game, even setting multiple NCAA records.
With last year's smaller roster, the team played a more conservative-style offense. This season, with an expanded roster, the team is expected to make a return to its fast-paced roots.
A Focus On Scoring
Sacramento State averaged 72.0 points per game last season. While that number was the 55th best in the nation, it was the lowest for the Hornets since the 2011-12 season (71.7). It was also fourth in the Big Sky, behind Weber State, Idaho, and Portland State.
Returning junior Hannah Friend, who led the team with 17.5 points per game last season, will certainly help in that regard, although the Hornets lost two other players who averaged double digits, including Maranne Johnson, the program's all-time leader in made three-pointers.
Prior to last season, Sacramento State averaged 85.7 points per game under coach Harkleroad from 2013-2017 (four seasons).
Second Half Strong
Sacramento State was 1-8 after their first nine conference games last season and 4-5 over their final nine. As a team, the Hornets averaged 67.6 points on 37.5% shooting in the first half compared to 76.2 points on 40.1% shooting in the second.
Protecting the Ball
Sacramento State did an excellent job of protecting the ball last season. Their 401 total turnovers were the 20th fewest in all of NCAA Div. I. Their 2.17 turnover margin was the second best in the Big Sky and 88th in the country.
Last year's seven-win season was the first season with fewer than 10 wins since 2010-11, when Sacramento State won just four games. From 2011-2017, the Hornets averaged 15 wins per season.
Three Players To Watch
Hannah Friend, 32, Jr. G
Played in all 30 of the team's games, making a team-high 28 starts...Averaged 17.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game...Her 17.5 points per game was best on the team and the 8th-highest in single season history...Scored 525 total points, most on the team and the 5th most in a single season in program history...Shot 36.0% overall and 28.0% from beyond the arc...Her 180 field goals made were the 8th most in a single season while her 500 field goal attempts are 2nd most in a single season in program history...Her 246 three-point field goals attempted are 6th most in a single season.
Kennedy Nicholas, 30, Jr. F
Averaged 7.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks per game, and 23.8 minutes per game, all career-highs...Scored in double figures in eight of 30 games...Scored a career-high 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting in just 21 minutes against Idaho State on Jan. 20...Her 7.0 rebounds per game was tops on the team...Led the team with 209 total rebounds...Had 10 or more rebounds in eight games, including a career-high 15 rebounds on Feb. 1...Nicholas recorded a team-high five double-doubles, including a span of three in five games from Dec. 15 to Jan. 4...Led the team with 39 blocks overall.
Raegen Rohn, 20, Sr. G
Big Sky All-Academic (3x)...Shot 36.6% overall from the floor (53-145), including 33.0% (33-100) from beyond the arc...Shot a team-high 93.8% from the free throw line, making 15 of 16 attempts. Played in 26 of the team's 30 games with seven starts...All seven starts came against Big Sky conference opponents...Averaged 5.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 23.4 minutes per game...Scored a career-high 16 points at home against Southern Utah on Feb. 24...Shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from three and 2-of-2 at the free throw line.
2017-18 Overall Record 7-23
2017-18 Big Sky Record 5-13 (10th)
2017-18 Postseason BSC QF
Starters Returning/Lost 3/2
Letterwinners Returning/Lost 3/2
Redshirts Returning/Lost 3/0
Percentage of Points Returning 65.4%
Percentage of Rebounds Returning 59.9%
Percentage of Assists Returning 47.5%
Big Sky Conference Championships None
NCAA Tournament/WNIT Appearances 0/1
Year Program Joined Div. I 1991-92