Women’s basketball dominates, clinches No. 7 seed

Sophomore+Maranne+Johnson+goes+for+a+shot+over+North+Dakota%27s+Samantha+Roscoe.+North+Dakota+won+86-79+on+Feb.+27+at+the+Nest.

Sophomore Maranne Johnson goes for a shot over North Dakota’s Samantha Roscoe. North Dakota won 86-79 on Feb. 27 at the Nest.

Chris Bullock

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team put the Big Sky Conference on notice Friday night.

In the final game of the regular season before the Big Sky Conference Tournament, Sac State (13-16, 10-8 in Big Sky) took an 11-point lead in the first quarter, and kept the lead the entire game en route to a 111-79 win over Northern Arizona University (6-23, 2-16 in Big Sky) at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Arizona.

With this win, Sac State clinched the No. 7 seed in the conference. The Hornets had a chance to take the No. 6 seed, but Weber State beat Eastern Washington on Friday to clinch the spot.

Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad was pleased with the win, but emphasized the importance of keeping focus on the next game.

“I think it’s important to go in with momentum,” Harkleroad said. “We’re glad to finish strong, but that only goes so far.”

Sac State began the game attacking the basket, with four Hornets making at least one 3-pointer in the quarter. After finishing the first quarter with a 27-20 lead, the Hornets erupted for 35 points in the second quarter, taking a 62-41 lead into halftime.

Harkleroad said he liked the overall effort the team displayed in the first half, despite not having some of the depth that he is used to. Three of the team’s players (Brianna Burgos, Ashlyn Crenshaw and Abbey Goodsell) didn’t make the road trip due to injuries.

In the second half of the game, Sac State put the game out of reach. The Hornets had a 31-17 scoring advantage in the third quarter, and at one point in the fourth quarter led by 39 points.

“It was very encouraging,” Harkleroad said. “People were playing hard. The bench can be an asset if the energy is there.”

Sophomores Maranne Johnson and Taylor Brown led Sac State in scoring with 21 points apiece; the 21 points were a career high for Brown, who went 7-of-12 from 3-point range. Senior Adella Randle-El and junior Gretchen Harrigan had 16 points apiece, while 10 of 11 Hornets had at least two rebounds in the game, led by senior Sydonia Daniels, who had eight.

Sac State also had its fourth game of the season in which the team made at least 20 3-pointers (21). Of the remaining 343 schools in the NCAA Division I, only Long Beach State has accomplished the feat even once this season.

Sac State will begin the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, with their first game against No. 10 seed, Southern Utah, who the Hornets beat 82-72 on March 2. The game starts at 5:35 p.m. All conference tournament games will be streamed on watchbigsky.com.