SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State women's basketball team returned to the Nest Thursday night and struggled early to find a way to break Idaho State's top-ranked defense. Despite battling back in the second half, the Hornets fell at home, 56-42, to the Bengals.
With the loss, Sacramento State falls to 7-10 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky while the Bengals improve to 12-6 overall and 8-2 in league, tied for the top spot with Northern Colorado (13-6, 8-2 Big Sky).
Idaho State came into Thursday night's matchup in the Nest with the second-ranked defense in the Big Sky, limiting their opponents to just 59.7 points per game on 36.5% shooting. Their impactful defense, coupled with their physicality up and down the floor, stymied the Hornets early as they fell behind 36-17 at the half.
Despite bouncing back in the third quarter - during which the Hornets outscored the Bengals 10-5 - it was too little too late as Idaho State was able to maintain their lead at that point for the game's final 10 minutes.
Sacramento State was held to just 23.7% shooting overall (14-59), their second lowest mark of the season. Fittingly, their lowest shooting percentage of the season came against Idaho State just two weeks ago in Pocatello (22.4%, 13-58).
Despite the oppressive Idaho State defense, junior guard Hannah Friend recorded her fourth double-double of the season, putting up a team-high 13 points and 10 rebounds (two offensive). She added a block and two steals, in the game, as well.
Friend was able to bounce back nicely from her first matchup with the Bengals, when she scored a season-low five points, her only single-digit scoring game of the season. On Thursday, she went 5-for-10 from the floor while making 3-of-4 free throws.
Kennedy Nicholas finished with game-high 12 rebounds while scoring eight points, snapping her double-double streak at four games. She had just four points and three rebounds in the game's first half, but pulled in nine more boards after the break.
Of the junior's 12 rebounds, seven came off the offensive glass, her most since collecting 10 in her 20 rebound game against Southern Utah. Though 17 games this season, Nicholas has collected seven or more offensive rebounds four times and has broken the double-digit mark in rebounds 13 times.
Tiara Scott, the third of Sacramento State's returning starters from last season, again led the team in assists, collecting four more Thursday. She now has 266 in her career, just 12 back of fourth all-time in Hornets program history.
Scott and fellow point guard Gabi Bade each has four steals, a team high. Overall, the Hornets collected 16 total steals, their most against a Big Sky opponent this season and second most all year. In total, Sacramento State forced Idaho State into 24 turnovers, also their most against a Big Sky opponent this season.
Unfortunately, the Hornets managed to turn those 24 turnovers into just 15 total points, as even after a turnover, the Idaho State defense was able to regroup nearly every time.
Once again, the Hornets were plagued by one devastating quarter as they scored just four points in the second quarter. After a layup by Scott gave Sacramento State a 15-14 lead with 9:05 on the clock in the second, Idaho State silenced the Hornets offense, outscoring them 22-2 over the quarter's final nine minutes. Sacramento State has been held to a single-digit quarter six times this season. They are 0-6 in those games.
The Hornets have a chance to bounce right back from Thursday night's tough loss when they welcome the Weber State Wildcats to the Nest on Saturday, Feb. 1. Tip off is scheduled for 2:05 pm.
Weber State comes into Saturday's matchup with a 4-16 overall mark, including a 1-9 record against the Big Sky. They are coming off a 65-38 loss on the road at Portland State.
For more details on all upcoming Sacramento State women's basketball games, visit the 2018-19 schedule online at HornetSports.com.