Hornets win big in Reno


Sophomore Maranne Johnson drives an Northern Colorado defender at the Hornets Nest, Thursday, Feb. 25. Johnson played a big part in a Hornets 83-72 win as she had 20 points, five rebounds, and two steals.

Chris Bullock

Momentum happened to be on the side of the Sacramento State women’s basketball team Monday night.

Behind a career-high effort from sophomore Maranne Johnson and a record-breaking effort from her teammates, No. 7 Sac State (14-16, 11-8 Big Sky) defeated the No. 10 Southern Utah University Thunderbirds (4-25, 2-16 Big Sky) 102-89 in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament last night.

Sac State beat Southern Utah for the second time in the last six days (an 82-72 win on Wednesday, March 2) and won its seventh game in the last nine days, including the Hornets’ third-straight win.

Head coach Bunky Harkleroad took the time to soak in the victory and was pleased with the effort the team put forth, considering the team was playing without three key contributors; Abbey Goodsell, Ashlyn Crenshaw and Brianna Burgos, who were all out with injuries.

“I think we’re playing at a little bit of a higher level,” Harkleroad said. “Our seniors [Adella Randle-El, Ericka Magana and Sydonia Daniels] are definitely playing with more energy and setting a good example for the rest of the team.”

Despite Southern Utah’s record, the Thunderbirds came into the game looking to prove to Sac State that they are no pushover. In the first quarter, Southern Utah went point-for-point with the Hornets, and finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 23-18 lead into the second quarter of the game.

Harkleroad was quick to point out that Southern Utah was not a team to be overlooked.

“They played us tough both times we’ve played them this season,” Harkleroad said. “They’re not as bad as their record suggests. Our players knew we had to take them seriously.”

In what has become a continuing trend for Sac State, the Hornets took over in the second quarter. Sac State went on a 14-2 run midway through the second and finished the first half with a 53-46 lead after making seven 3-pointers in the quarter.

After halftime Sac State took the game over, leading by as much as 20 halfway through the third quarter. Southern Utah went on an 8-0 run at the end of the third to close the gap to 79-68. Sac State then started off the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer by freshman Madeline Dopplick and never looked back.

As a team, Sac State finished the game breaking four Big Sky Conference Tournament records: points in a game (102), most made 3-pointers (19), most 3-point attempts (58), and offensive rebounds (30).

Johnson set a career-high with 31 points, including seven 3-pointers on 18 attempts, which is an individual conference record. Randle-El scored 20 points to go along with nine rebounds and nine assists, coming one rebound and assist away from accomplishing the first-ever triple double in the history of Sac State women’s basketball.

The Hornets will now advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament, where they will face No. 2 Eastern Washington University on Wednesday night. The teams have split the season series, with each team winning on the opposing team’s court. The game starts at 5:35 p.m. and can be streamed via watchbigsky.com.