Hornets get ready for Cal Classic


Christopher Bullock

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team is getting ready for its toughest test of the season thus far, as the team travels to Berkeley this weekend for the Four Points by Sheraton Cal Classic.

The Cal Classic this season features four teams (Sac State, Villanova, Cal and St. Mary’s) that either played in the NCAA Tournament or the Women’s NIT last season. The three teams that Sac State may be facing have a combined record of 14-4.

The Hornets (1-3) are looking to rebound after a tough three-game stretch in which they lost three straight games by a combined 11 points.

Despite the losing streak, Sac State junior guard Ashlyn Crenshaw is still fairly optimistic about her team.

“Our offense is basically set,” Crenshaw said. “We’re just needing to fix all the small stuff we’ve been messing up on over the last few games.”

Going into this weekend’s tournament, Crenshaw is averaging a career-high 12.0 points per game. In the Hornets’ last game (a 95-94 loss to San Francisco on Nov. 28), Crenshaw set a career high in points and steals, with 20 points and seven steals.

Sac State’s opponent on Saturday, Villanova, is a team that doesn’t make many mistakes offensively. Villanova (4-2) leads the NCAA Div. I with only 8.0 turnovers a game and a 1.97 assist-to-turnover ratio. However, Villanova’s defense will be tested against Sac State.

Villanova has allowed an average of 58 field goal attempts per game. Sac State this season has averaged 85 attempts per game.

Sac State senior guard Adella Randle-El stressed the importance of attacking Villanova early when asked about them in an afternoon practice.

“We need to attack them more, and since they’re a slower team we really need to get up in there,” Randle-El said.

This season, Sac State is leading the NCAA DIvision I with 23.5 offensive rebounds per game, and is third in the NCAA with 11.8 3-pointers made per game.

With Villanova, Sac State will be facing a team from Pennsylvania for the first time since 1998, when they played Bucknell. This game will also be the first time Sac State and Villanova have played against each other.

In the other Saturday game, No. 17 nationally-ranked Cal and St. Mary’s will be going toe to toe. The teams are a combined 10-2 this season. Cal (5-1), which has been ranked as high as 15th in the national rankings, scored one of the biggest upsets in all of college basketball this season, when they beat then- No.8 Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 15. At the time, Cal was unranked.

Last season, Sac State traveled to Cal and lost 107-94. Overall, Sac State is 0-3 against the Golden Bears.

St. Mary’s (5-1) is currently ranked ninth in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-major Top 25. The Gaels, who feature seven women six feet or taller, rank in the top 10 in both field goal percentage and rebounding margin. Overall, St. Mary’s allows just 32.2 rebounds a game to their opponents (Sac State averages 44.0).

Last season, the Gaels beat Sac State twice, including a 77-69 win in the third round of last season’s WNIT on March 26.

Cal and St. Mary’s will play the first game at 2 p.m. on Saturday, with Sac State and Villanova playing the 4 p.m. game. The two losing teams will play the consolation game at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the two winning teams playing at 3 p.m for the tournament title.

Sac State coach Bunky Harkleroad said that the team will have to work a lot harder this weekend.

“We’re going to be physically overmatched whoever we play this weekend,” Harkleroad said. “These are three excellent basketball programs.”