Hornets fail to capture fourth-quarter magic in 99-95 loss


Sacramento State senior guard Ashlyn Crenshaw (12) and Maranne Johnson (22) try to grab the ball from a Nevada player on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Nest. Sac State lost 99-95 for its 11th straight loss to the Wolfpack. (Photo by Diana Rykun)

Chris Bullock

After trailing for the first 27 minutes, the Sacramento State women’s basketball team went into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Nevada Wolfpack with a nine-point lead.

The Wolfpack, however, had other plans as it outscored the Hornets 25-12 in the fourth en route to a 99-95 victory at the Nest.

Behind a career-high 32 points from senior guard Stephanie Schmid (5-10 3-pt FG), the Wolfpack (2-1) scored 90-plus points for the second game in a row after previously not hitting that mark since 2013. The 99 points given up by Sac State (1-2) is also the third straight game that the Hornets have given up 90 points or more to an opponent, a fact that head coach Bunky Harkleroad wasn’t too pleased about despite outscoring Nevada in the paint 54-42.

“We got them inside, but we left shooters open too much, and we just didn’t defend very well,” Harkleroad said. “Again, Nevada did well. They knocked down shots when they had to knock down shots, and they did a great job.”

Starting off the game, Nevada made it a point to get to the free throw line early and often. Within the first three minutes, the Wolfpack got to the line three times, going a perfect 6-for-6. Despite the perfection from the charity stripe, Sac State kept it close, only trailing by two (13-11) halfway through the first quarter.

However, Schmid turned on the heat for Nevada, scoring seven points in the remaining minutes to give the Wolfpack a 25-19 lead to end the first.

The second quarter was a little more favorable, as the bench for Sac State outscored Nevada’s bench 15-5. Junior guard Dahjae Mullins and senior forward Margaret Huntington led the charge, scoring six and five points a piece, keeping the Hornets within arms length. Going into halftime, Sac State only trailed by four, 52-48.

Mullins, who finished with 13 points, attributed her play to the coaches pushing her harder.

“My coach has been telling me the last couple of weeks that my team needs me, so I just need to get out of my own head and play,” Mullins said.

The halftime break seemed to energize Sac State, as it displayed a sense of urgency not shown in the first half. Redshirt-senior Emily Easom made a three-pointer at the 6:48 mark to bring the Hornets within one, then Mullins answered with a three-pointer of her own to give Sac State its first lead of the game (64-62) with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter.

From there, the two teams traded leads back and forth until the 3:22 mark. A jumper from freshman forward Kennedy Nicholas jump-started a 14-1 run by Sac State to end the third quarter. Going into the final frame, Sac State held an 83-74 lead.

Nevada came out swinging to start the fourth quarter, going on a 13-4 run to tie the game at 87 at the halfway mark. A layup by junior guard Maranne Johnson was the last time Sac State would take the lead, going up 89-87 with 3:56 left. Schmid scored the next four points for the Wolfpack to take a 91-89 lead and junior guard T Moe made four free throws in the closing minutes to put the Hornets away.

Freshman Tiara Scott, who finished with 16 points and four steals, said the loss was a result of poor defense.

“For us defensively, we let them get a lot of easy buckets,” Scott said. “We didn’t rotate hard enough, gave them way too many easy shots, and that’s where they killed us.”

The loss to Nevada marked Sac State’s 11th straight loss to the Wolfpack dating back to 1995, though the last time these two teams met was on Nov. 17, 2010 (a 98-72 Nevada victory). Nevada also extended its NCAA Div. I lead in free throws made and attempted, as they are now 66-of-84 (16-of-19 during the game).

Sac State had four players score in double figures (Huntington – 19, Scott – 16, Easom – 15, and Mullins – 13), but only got three players to the free throw line, where they went a combined 8-for-15.

“We need to have confidence, and that’s the key,” Scott said. “We have to be able to make those shots, especially free throws. Those are going to count at the end of the game.”

Sac State will take the court next at the Bank of Hawaii Classic this Friday, where it will face New Mexico State.