Women’s basketball wins season opener

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Christopher Bullock

Sacramento State’s women’s basketball team started off its 2015-16 season in winning fashion, defeating the Utah State Aggies 95-86 in Logan, Utah.

Sophomore guard Maranne Johnson led the Hornets with 20 points to go along with six rebounds, as one of four Hornets to score in double figures (Gretchen Harrigan with 15, Adella Randle-El with 14 and Brianna Burgos with 11).

Sac State coach Bunky Harkleroad said the game was very exciting, with both teams getting a lot of action.

“The game was a series of runs,” Harkleroad said. “One minute we’re scoring a bunch of shots, then Utah State would come back and score a bunch of shots. You got to give them credit for coming out better prepared at the start.”

The game started off slow for the Hornets, who weren’t able to develop their normal rhythm. Utah State started off the game with a 6-0 run before Sac State senior forward Sydonia Daniels scored on a layup nearly three minutes into the game. The Hornets caught up quick, however, going on a 10-6 run in less than two minutes to close the gap. Utah State ended the first quarter in the lead, 24-22.

Sac State would continue to have trouble catching up in the second quarter, as Utah State held as much as a six point lead with five minutes to go in the first half. A 3-pointer by Johnson gave Sac State its first lead of the game with about three minutes left in the half, putting Sac State up 43-41. Utah State tied twice before the end of the half, but Sac State forward Margaret Huntington scored on a layup with 15 seconds left to give the Hornets a 47-45 lead going into halftime.

The third quarter was a fight for both teams, as Sac State and Utah State traded basket for basket in the first four minutes. Utah State built its biggest lead of the game at seven to put the Aggies up 66-59 with five minutes to go. Sac State came back with a minute to go, as a layup by Randle-El put the Hornets up 71-70.

Sac State kept the lead for the remainder of the game, as the fourth quarter became an all-out scoring spree for the visiting team. The Hornets built as much as an 11-point lead, with Utah State consistently turning the ball over, turning the ball over 27 times in the game. A pair of free throws by Burgos sealed the game with 30 seconds to go.

Sac State was 34-of-93 from the field, shooting only 36 3-pointers, nine below its stated goal of 45 a game. Sac State did outrebound Utah State, however, 54-52. Utah State, after shooting 71 percent against Sac State in their last meeting on Dec. 19, 2014, only shot 52 percent on Saturday, and only attempted 10 3-pointers.

While Harkleroad was proud of the win, he did feel that Sac State could’ve done better.

“We’ve got to do a better job at the rim,” Harkleroad said. “Shooting 35 percent is not desirable, but I’d rather our team shoot bad and still find a way to win, than shooting great and losing.”

Sac State’s next game is against New Mexico State on Thursday in Las Cruces, New Mexico.