Men and women ice cold in winter

Victor Nieto

Although most Sacramento State students were home for the winter break relaxing from a hard-working semester, the men’s and women’s basketball teams dribbled their way into the halfway point of the season and began Big Sky Conference play.

The records may not have been what the teams sought after, but there have been many highlights for each team during the break, and optimism is still a stead-fast feeling among the players and coaches.

“Our goals are still the same,” women’s coach Dan Muscatell said. “We still hope to win the Big Sky and as of now (Jan. 23) we’re in that sixth spot for the conference tournament.”

The women Hornets have gone 2-5 overall since the end of December through the third week of January and 2-3 in league play, having played very strong at home, but on the road have shown a lack of experience and execution.

“Road games have been our bug-a-boo this year,” said Muscatell. “It seems like our focus and execution isn’t as strong as it should be on the road.”

Despite road troubles, the women Hornets managed to earn their first road victory of the season against Northern Arizona on Jan. 19, getting an eclectic amount of offensive and defensive contributions from the players. Muscatell said it was one of the team’s best performances of the season as the entire club played well, executed sharply and managed to come up with timely buckets and stout defense.

Muscatell was quick to point out his team’s hard-work and dedication during this early season and how the team has persevered through many injuries, including an early season knee injury to the team’s then leading scorer, forward Atty Boyer.

Playing with a knee injury for the better part of January, Boyer’s production has dropped off a bit but has been picked up by numerous players including Erika Edwards, who ranks among the top in rebounds and points per game in the Big Sky for all sophomores and Becca Reams, who along with Edwards lead the team in scoring in the win over Northern Arizona.

Since the break the men’s team has gone 1-7 in a highly competitive Big Sky Conference and is currently 1-6 in league play. The lone win on Jan. 10 was a thrilling back and forth battle between the Hornets and the Bobcats of Montana State, who entered the Hornets Nest on a four-game winning streak. In the closing seconds of the game senior Hornet forward Justin Williams pulled up and hit a game-winning jumper with 4.1 seconds left, giving the Hornets its first conference victory of the season.

The team has played competitively, led by guards Loren Leath and Vinnie McGee, who are averaging 15.5 and 12.2 points per game, respectivley, this season for the team. Both guards have been playing exceptionally well for the team during the winter break, with either Leath or McGee leading the Hornets in scoring for every game but one since its Dec. 28 visit to Northern Colorado.

As of Jan. 23, the men’s team is two games back of the sixth spot in the Big Sky and, more importantly, that all-elusive invite to the Big Sky tournament after the regular season has concluded. Both the men and women teams will continue league play up until the second week of March and both will be in action this week at the Hornets Nest.

The women will play the Bears of Northern Colorado on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. and the men’s team will also be going up against Northern Colorado on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Victor Nieto can be reached at [email protected]