Women’s basketball advances to semifinal in conference tournament with 78-62 win

Patricia Carpenter

For the third time in program history the Sacramento State women’s basketball team has clinched a spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinals with their 78-62 quarterfinal win over Montana State in Missoula, Montana today.

The women started out cold on offense, hitting only 14-of-46 shots with a field goal percentage of 30 percent in the first half. There were only three women in double digits for the Hornets as Gretchen Harrigan contributed 12 points, Adella Randle-El had 11 points and Maranne Johnson followed with 10.

Defensively, Sac State handled the ball well, which is contradictory to coach Bunky Harkleroad’s offensive approach to every game. The women gathered eight boards on defense and were dominant on offensive rebounds, collecting 16 in the first half alone. They tallied 44 overall to end the game.

Montana State threatened on offense with the Bobcats shooting 14-of-29 from the field (48.3 percent) and 5-of-12 from downtown (41.7 percent). Their leading scorer Jasmine Hommes finished the first half with 12 points and ended the game with 22 points.

Despite the slow offensive start, the Hornets were able to tally 31 points off Montana State’s 25 turnovers, which aided their victory. The Bobcats struggled to take care of the ball on defense, allowing Sac State to score 26 second-chance points throughout the entire contest.

Randle-El provided the bulk of the offense for the Hornets in the first half after firing off three 3-pointers to lead the women with nine points and put them ahead 20-14 with 11:15 on the clock. The women were tied up six times and the lead changed six times alone in the first part of the game.

Sac State pulled away with the lead in the second half after totaling 13 points. They were up 49-36 over the Bobcats and held them to a two minute scoring drought. A two-point jumper from MSU’s Jackie Elliot ended it, but the Hornets retained the lead for the rest of the half.

Montana State concluded the quarterfinal game with a better shooting percentage as they finished 26-of-54 from the field (48 percent) and 3-of-6 from 3-point range (50 percent). Sac State matched its same field goal percentage from the first half, going 10 for 33. The women bettered their 3-point percentage going from 26.1 (6-of-23) to 36.8 percent (7-of-19).

Harrigan was the leading scorer for Sac State with 19 points, while Hallie Gennett and Johnson collected 12 points to propel the team to the semifinals.

On Friday the Hornets will face the No. 3 seed University of Northern Colorado at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula at 10 a.m. PST.