One last time ’round the Hornets Nest

Chris Bullock

For the Sacramento State women’s basketball team, this week will be the last chance they get to stir The Nest this spring.

This week’s games against the University of Northern Colorado and the University of North Dakota will serve as the Hornets’ final home games on the “Road to Reno,” the Big Sky Conference Tournament held in Reno, Nevada in March.

Fresh off a two-game trip in the Pacific Northwest in which Sac State (10-15, 7-7 Big Sky) went 1-1, the Hornets will be facing two opponents that they have not yet faced all season.

First on the menu for Sac State: a Thursday night game against Northern Colorado (11-13, 6-8 Big Sky), which is looking to recuperate from a recent loss to North Dakota on Feb. 20.

While Northern Colorado currently has the 10th lowest scoring offense in the Big Sky (62.4 points per game, compared to Sac State, who leads the Big Sky with 86.4 ppg), they allow the second-lowest amount of points per game, allowing only 60.8 points per game.

Keys to success for Northern Colorado: if they plan to beat Sac State, they have to play to their strength, which is their free throw shooting. The Bears lead the Big Sky in free throw percentage, making 76 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. Sophomore point guard Savannah Scott is second in the conference individually, making 87.7 percent of her free throws (50-of-57 for the season).

Keys to success for Sac State: The Hornets like to take a lot of shots– they’ve taken 285 more shots than any other team in the Big Sky– and their offensive rebounding has been a major reason that they’ve been able to stay in a lot of games. If Sac State is going to beat Northern Colorado, they have to get those offensive boards and take advantage of second chance shots. They average the most offensive rebounds per game in the Big Sky (19.8).

Last head-to-head result: Northern Colorado beat Sac State, 81-79, on March 13, 2015 in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

The final home game of the season for Sac State sees them going toe-to-toe with North Dakota (13-12, 9-5 Big Sky) on Saturday. The Fighting Hawks are currently sixth in the Big Sky, holding a two-game lead over Sac State in the conference standings.

Keys to success for North Dakota: If the Fighting Hawks plan to keep Sac State busy, their defense will be essential to victory. North Dakota has allowed the least amount of rebounds in the Big Sky (30.2 per game), and they also have the fourth-leading rebounder, senior forward Mia Loyd (8.0 per game). The main problem they’ll have is their scoring (62.1 points per game, 11th in the Big Sky).

Keys to success for Sac State: If the Hornets plan to give the home crowd something to cheer about in their final home game this Spring, they’ll have to start with their three-point shooting. The Hornets lead the Big Sky and NCAA Division I in three-pointers made with 306 and also have the conference leader in junior guard Brianna Burgos (3.2 per game).

Sac State will also have to keep up the pace on their defensive game. Senior guard Adella Randle-El leads not only the Big Sky in steals and steals per game (94, 3.8 per game), but she is currently third in the NCAA Division I in both categories.

Last head-to-head result: Sac State beat North Dakota, 64-62, on Feb. 21, 2015.

Tickets for both home games are available at the Nest and at Thursday’s game against Northern Colorado is at 7:05 p.m., and Saturday’s game against North Dakota starts at 2:05 p.m. The games will also be available for streaming via and will have live tweeting via @SH_Sports.