Sac State spoils Jamie Craighead’s return with 103-99 victory

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Satchi Hover

Sacramento State’s women’s basketball team spoiled the return of former head coach, Jamie Craighead, with a victory over San Jose State Saturday at The Nest.  

It was the first time Craighead faced Sac State after leaving prior to the start of the season. In four seasons under Craighead, the Hornets were 51-70 overall, with a 31-38 record in the Big Sky Conference.

Craighead’s replacement, Bunky Harkleroad, guided the Hornets (6-1) to a 103-99 win over the Spartans (4-5).

“For some of our players, it was an unusual situation to play against their old coach,” Harkleroad said. “It took us a while to get in a groove but we stuck with it. We won a close game and we played hard.”

Sac State senior guard Alle Moreno, a close friend of Craighead’s, scored a career high 28 points on 9-15 shooting and converted on 4-9 3-point attempts.

“I can only be thankful. I got to play against one of my favorite coaches in the world,” Moreno said. “We had a great crowd and a win. There’s not much more you can ask for as a player.”

Moreno admitted that she felt some emotions before the game, but brushed them aside when play started.  

“I just realized its another basketball game I get to play in and I can only look at the positives,” Moreno said.

One of the positives came in the form of junior guard Takara Burse, who contributed to Sac State’s efforts with 16 points and 9 rebounds.

“This win was great motivation for the team,” Burse said. “With all the adversity we faced with our coach (Craighead) leaving, we’ve embraced our new coach (Harkleroad) and got after ourselves and played well.”

The Spartans were led by junior guard Ta’Rea Cunnigan who scored 24 points on 10-17 shooting. Fellow junior guard Classye James followed suit with 23 points while collecting seven rebounds and eight assists.

As a team, the Hornets shot 41.8 percent (38-91) from the floor, and just 31.6 percent (12-38) from 3-point range. Free throw shooting was also an issue as the team converted only 15-32 (46.9 percent) from the line.

The Spartans shot 50.6 percent (40-79) but were limited to just 2-19 from 3-point range (10.5 percent). Ball control was an issue for San Jose State as it committed 23 turnovers.

For the Hornets, it was the fourth consecutive win and its 6-1 nonconference mark is good for first in the Big Sky.

Sac State will take on UC Irvine Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. at The Nest.