Hornets fail to finish in disappointing loss on Senior Day

Chris Bullock

On a day when Sacramento State bid farewell to three seniors, the women’s basketball team couldn’t finish at the end of a close match.

Seniors Adella Randle-El, Ericka Magana and Sydonia Daniels played their final home game for Sac State and played well, but the Hornets were outscored 27-14 in the fourth quarter in a loss to the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, 86-79, on Saturday at the Nest.

Randle-El was the main contributor for the Hornets (11-16, 8-8 n the Big Sky Conference), scoring 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the free throw line and 11 rebounds to lead the team. Junior guard Brianna Burgos scored 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the free throw line before suffering an injury in the fourth quarter.

For Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad, the loss was not about what they did wrong as much as what North Dakota (15-12, 11-5 in Big Sky) did right.

“North Dakota is a very well-coached team and one of the hottest teams in the league right now,” Harkleroad said. “They’ve won eight of their last nine, and they knocked down a lot of shots that we wanted them to take. You’re going to have to pick your poison when you’re physically outmatched like that.”

Randle-El got the game started for Sac State, making the first basket of the game. Junior guard Brianna Burgos made a follow-up 3-pointer to put the Hornets up 5-2, then North Dakota turned on the gears. North Dakota went on a 11-0 run during the first, then Sac State turned back around and went on a 13-2 run to end the first quarter with a 24-23 lead.

The second quarter was aggressive for both teams, as both teams only combined for 31 points in the quarter. Sac State had five fouls and three turnovers. On a bright note, however, Randle-El broke the single-season team record for steals in a season with her 100th steal, breaking former Hornet Fantasia Hilliard’s record of 99.

Going into halftime, Sac State and North Dakota were tied at 39.

The third quarter belonged to Sac State, and it looked like they just couldn’t miss. Sac State, led by sophomore Taylor Brown, Burgos and Randle-El, scored 26 points en route to a 65-59 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter gave Sac State and its home fans a scare. Two minutes into the quarter, Burgos went down hard on her left leg and had to be helped off the floor by student trainers. The extent of the injury was not made available immediately.

Harkleroad was disappointed about the loss of Burgos, who is the second-leading scorer on the team.

“Hopefully it’s not bad, but it is a huge loss for us if it is,” Harkleroad said. “You all saw that when she went down, we had a hard time making a basket.”

After the injury, Sac State wasn’t able to maintain the energy they had in the third quarter. North Dakota capitalized on that, getting to the free throw line often. After only taking 12 attempts so far the entire game, North Dakota had 12 in the fourth alone, making 11 of their attempts.

Sophomore guard Maranne Johnson, who had 10 points in the game, fouled out with less than 45 seconds left in the game. At that point , Sac State was only down four and had a chance to take the game back. North Dakota, however, didn’t give the Hornets a chance, making three more free throws to put the game out of reach.

Magana, who has only been with Sac State for two years (she transferred from Sierra College in Rocklin) felt bad that the team couldn’t get the final home win for the fans.

“It was very important to me,” Magana said. “I really wanted the win for the fans and our team, but we didn’t come through. Our execution lacked toward the end.”

For Randle-El, her last home game was a special moment for her and she was sad that it didn’t end the way she had hoped.

“I really wanted to end this season with a bang,” Randle-El said. “Being that it’s Senior Day and I won’t be able to play on this floor again … I really wanted to win.”

Mia Loyd was the top scorer for North Dakota, with 18 points. With the loss, Sac State is now guaranteed to play on the opening day of the Big Sky Conference Tournament, which starts on Monday, March 7.

Sac State still has two games left in the regular season, with games against Southern Utah and Northern Arizona on the road. North Dakota finishes the regular season with games against Montana and Montana State.