Women’s basketball moves on to Big Sky semifinals

State Hornet Staff

All the Hornets needed was another chance.

After losing three straight games to Idaho State University, Sacramento State’s women’s basketball team received from redemption as they defeated the Bengals Wednesday night 73-60 in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

“I felt that we had something to prove to ourselves,” said Hornets head coach Jamie Craighead. “This was a tremendous night playing a team that had our number in the regular season.”

The win was only the third win against Idaho State in the program’s history and it broke a three-game losing streak against the Bengals in which the Hornets were outscored by an average of 14 points.

Sac State’s hot shooting started early in the first half as the Hornets hit their first three shots from the perimeter to give themselves an 11-4 lead. Although the shooting cooled off midway through the first half, the Hornets finished with five players each making a 3-point shot.

Although the Hornets worked with a lead most of the first half, Idaho State completed their final three shots, including a buzzer beater by Jessa Jeppesen that gave the Bengals a 34-33 halftime lead. 

Senior center Natasha Torgerson finished the half with five points.

“The first half was a little shaky, but once we were in the locker room talking we came out more aggressive,” Torgerson said.

In the second half, the Hornets did indeed become more aggressive as they forced 12 second-half turnovers that led to 14 points.

After a quick basket by Bengals’ Ashleigh Vella, Sac State went on a 17-4 run that was highlighted by a pair of 3-point shots by Torgerson.

From there, the Hornets would keep running and the Bengals would not get any closer than a seven-point margin.

Senior forward Kylie Kuhns said she felt more comfortable in the second half due to the fact that Idaho State had to speed up the game to attempt a comeback.

“We knew there was going to be a clash of styles, and the first two games went in their favor,” Kuhns said, who finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. “We are a lot better when we speed up the game.”

The win marks five out of the last six for Sac State and Craighead said there is no better time to get on a roll than tournament time.

“We are just putting it all on the line,” Craighead said. “We have four seniors who are playing their best basketball right now and they have been a big part of our program. We want to send them out the right way.”

The Hornets return to Dahlberg Arena Friday as they face the University of Montana in the tournament semifinals at 12:30 p.m. 

“It’s going to be hard, but we are riding the momentum right now,” Kuhns said. “If we play hard, we can make a run at it.”

Ryan can be reached on Twitter at @rskuhn