The State Hornet

Women’s basketball team squanders early lead, lose to Portland State

Hornets drop to 6-10 in Big Sky play

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Women’s basketball team squanders early lead, lose to Portland State

Sac State junior guard Gabi Bade crosses over in a 75-57 loss against Portland State Feb. 23 at the Nest. Bade finished with 20 points on five of 10 from three.

Sac State junior guard Gabi Bade crosses over in a 75-57 loss against Portland State Feb. 23 at the Nest. Bade finished with 20 points on five of 10 from three.

Eric Jaramishian - The State Hornet

Sac State junior guard Gabi Bade crosses over in a 75-57 loss against Portland State Feb. 23 at the Nest. Bade finished with 20 points on five of 10 from three.

Eric Jaramishian - The State Hornet

Eric Jaramishian - The State Hornet

Sac State junior guard Gabi Bade crosses over in a 75-57 loss against Portland State Feb. 23 at the Nest. Bade finished with 20 points on five of 10 from three.

Shaun Holkko

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Following a successful three-game road trip, the Sacramento State women’s basketball team returned home to the Nest Saturday to take on the Portland State Vikings.

The Hornets (10-14, 6-10 Big Sky) started well but ultimately lost to the Vikings (20-5, 11-4 Big Sky) by a score of 75-57.

Sac State were home Saturday for the first time since Feb. 11 against Northern Colorado, as the team went on a three-game road trip in which they went 2-1.

RELATED: Sac State women’s basketball loses to Northern Colorado

The Hornets’ road trip started on Valentine’s Day at Southern Utah with a 75-69 overtime win.

Junior guard Hannah Friend and junior forward Kennedy Nicholas had nearly identical stats in the win as they both had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.

Sac State went to Flagstaff to play Northern Arizona two days later. The Hornets played another closely-contested game but lost 71-69 after being outsourced 20-11 in the fourth quarter by the Lumberjacks. Friend had another double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

To close out the three-game road trip, the Hornets played a matinee game in Odgen, Utah against the last-place Weber State Wildcats on Wednesday.

The Hornets made their mark in the first half as they held a nine-point halftime lead, which ended up being the difference as Sac State won 78-69.

“It’s always an adventure traveling in the Big Sky, a lot of cold, a lot of snow,” Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad said. “We got two out of three so that was a productive trip for us and I thought we took a couple steps forward over that trip. It’s always a grind and toughens us up.”

Friend and Nicholas each fell one rebound short of a double-double against Weber State. Friend had a team-high 21 points with nine rebounds. Nicholas scored 14 points, grabbed nine rebounds (four offensive) and a set a new career-high with seven blocks.

RELATED: Kennedy Nicholas: From battling the courts to battling for boards

Sac State then returned home to the Nest Saturday to take on the Vikings. The Hornets led by one point after a back and forth first quarter, 18-17. The team then stretched their lead to seven at 26-19 prompting Vikings head coach Lynn Kennedy to call a timeout with 7:55 left in the first half.

Following the timeout, Portland State went on an 18-5 run to close out the second quarter and take a 37-31 lead into halftime. Sac State ended the half making one of their final 10 shots.

The Hornets were able to make a comeback of their own in the second half as they cut the Vikings lead to three points at 47-44 with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter. Kennedy called another timeout to stop the momentum Sac State was building.

Portland State came out of the timeout strong as they closed out the final three minutes of the quarter on a 13-2 run to retake a double-digit lead going into the final quarter.

The Vikings outscored the Hornets 15-11 in the final period to win the game by 18 at 75-57 and reach 20 wins this season, best in the Big Sky.

“I think in the first half we got after it and were executing better, taking more of the shots we usually take,” Friend said. “Second half, we were not executing and stopped trying. We let Portland State get a lot of easy looks without help or stopping them so it didn’t work out in our favor.”

Junior guard Gabi Bade led the Hornets in scoring with 20 points on 7-15 from the field (5-10 from three) and four rebounds.

“I felt good,” Bade said about her performance. “Whenever I’m in the game, I don’t ever take the first shot. I let the game come to me. Defense comes first and then offense will come.”

Friend followed closely behind with a double-double, with 18 points, 11 rebounds (four offensive) and six steals.

Sac State plays next Thursday at the Nest against the Eastern Washington Eagles (9-16, 8-8 Big Sky) at 7:05 p.m. The Hornets beat the Eagles in their previous meeting in Cheney on Jan. 26, 73-70.

“Eastern Washington has played the top teams in the league very well,” Harkleroad said. “They’re a physical, hard-nosed basketball team. We’ll have to play hard to beat them, they always are a hard matchup for us.”

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