Sac State women’s basketball splits homestand against Idaho, Eastern Washington


Thomas Frey - The State Hornet

Sacramento State freshman guard Dana DeGraffenreid looks to pass the ball against Antelope Valley junior guard Samantha Earl Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Nest. The Hornets defeated the Pioneers 95-62 in their home opener.

Thomas Frey

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team lost its second Big Sky Conference game of the season against Eastern Washington 83-72 on Saturday after picking up its first league win versus Idaho 79-64 on Thursday.

In their first game of the week against Idaho (6-9, 2-2 Big Sky), the Hornets scored the first 12 points of the contest en route to a 26-point lead early in the third quarter at the Nest.

Sac State (3-11, 1-2 Big Sky) dished the ball out to open players on the perimeter and knocked down their shots. Sophomore guard Hannah Friend nailed three 3-point baskets and finished with 29 points.

Senior guard Maranne Johnson was forced to sit most of the second half before fouling out, but in 25 minutes, she made her impact shooting, rebounding, passing and also recording four steals. Johnson’s presence forced Idaho to zone in on her and made it possible for four of her teammates to record at least 10 points.

“We’re better when Maranne is on the floor,” Sac State coach Bunky Harkleroad said. “She unfortunately picked up a couple fouls that we wish she hadn’t.”

The second half was a different story for the Hornets. The Vandals were led by junior guard Mikalya Ferenz who was virtually absent in the first half. She came alive in the second half and scored 29 of her 33 points in the final two periods.

“Idaho didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half and we did,” Harkleroad said. “I thought we could have been sharper defensively at times in the second half. We give Ferenz an inch and she is going to knock shots down.”

Ferenz’s successful shooting cut the Hornets lead from 26 points to just eight with 5:40 to play in the fourth quarter.

With Idaho inching back, the Hornets suffered a blow when Friend took an elbow downlow fighting for a rebound and was forced to leave the game as her nose was bleeding. She didn’t miss much time though, and checked back in the game with her nose plugged to stop the bleeding.

“I was going to help (sophomore forward Kennedy Nicholas) get the ball and the girl just threw her elbow down smashing my nose,” Friend said. “I was eager to get back in and I popped a few things in my nose and I was ready to play.”

With the lead down to eight, Sac State called a timeout and were able to take advantage when the Vandals shots weren’t falling. Nicholas was a force in the paint recording 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks as the Hornets built their lead back up to double figures on the way to a 79-64 win.

In the second game of the week against Eastern Washington, the 20 turnovers the Hornets committed told the story of the game.

“That definitely set us back,” Friend said. “20 turnovers should never happen out there and I think it affected the end result.”

Friend scored 26 points in the contest, but also committed six turnovers.

The Eagles (7-9, 2-2 Big Sky) consistently held a lead of about five the entire game. Each time Sac State cut the lead to one possession, the Eagles struck back with an answer. Eastern Washington senior forward Delaney Hodgins finished the game with 27 points.

Hodgins wasn’t the only Eagle who contributed as Sac State also had trouble with sophomore guard Symone Starks and junior guard Violet Kapri Morrow who each posted 15 points.

“You have to give credit to Eastern Washington for going to battle,” Harkleroad said. “Morrow, Starks and Hodgins, they whooped us tonight.”

Sac State fell behind 21-11 with 1:09 to play in the first quarter before clawing back to trail just 44-43 with 8:06 left in the third period.

The Eagles scored quickly and frequently from their on out and built up a 67-51 lead before the third quarter came to an end.

The Hornets were able to cut the lead to six late before eventually falling 83-72 at the buzzer.

“We lacked energy and focus,” Johnson said. “We faced a team that was willing to work harder then we were.”