Hornets fall short of upsetting first place Idaho Vandals

Women’s basketball team unable to win on Raegen Rohn Day


Shaun Holkko

Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad talks to his team during a timeout huddle in a 69-65 loss to Idaho Saturday at the Nest. The Hornets have two regular seasons games left on the road before the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise, Idaho begins March 11.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team celebrated lone senior, guard Raegen Rohn, Saturday at the Nest on senior day as they took on the first place University of Idaho Vandals.

The Hornets (10-16, 6-12 Big Sky) came into Saturday’s game seeking revenge and to upset the Vandals (18-9, 15-3 Big Sky) who soundly defeated Sac State Jan. 24 in Idaho, 104-66.

Sac State came out strong in the first period, opening the contest on an 8-0 run 3:35 into the game. The Vandals were able to start making their baskets as they cut the deficit to three points, at 16-13, entering the second quarter.

Idaho, led by the “Splash Sisters” senior guards Taylor Pierce and Mikayla Ferenz, made a comeback charge and retook the lead in the second period. The Vandals outscored the Hornets 23-17 and went into halftime with a 36-33 lead.

“Idaho is a very good basketball team,” said Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad. “They have two of the better players in the league and two of the better guards in mid-major basketball.”

The Hornets were outscored in the third quarter by four points, 18-14, which ended up being the difference in the final score of the game.

The Vandals took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter and were able to stretch their lead to double-digits at 10 points 15 seconds into the final period. The Hornets then went on a 9-0 run, sparked by two three-pointers from freshman guard Milee Enger, cutting the deficit back to one point with 7:39 remaining in the game.

Following the Sac State comeback, the two teams traded baskets back and forth to end the game.

The game came down to one senior getting the better of another. With 51.3 seconds left, the Hornets led 65-64. The Vandals called timeout, took possession and after draining the clock, one of the Splash Sisters sealed the game for Idaho.

Ferenz got Rohn to bite on a pump-fake to give herself a wide-open, go-ahead three-pointer to retake the lead for the Vandals.

Junior guard Hannah Friend missed the ensuing layup following a timeout, forcing the Hornets to foul and subsequently ending the game. Sac State went on to lose to Idaho, 69-65.

“Idaho does a great job executing and that’s the difference,” Harkleroad said. “That’s a senior-heavy team with two very experienced guards that play a lot together.”

The Vandals were led to the win by Pierce and Ferenz who each played the entire 40 minutes. Pierce had a game-high 26 points on 8-of-19 from the field (5-of-16 from three) and three rebounds. Ferenz scored 25 points on 9-of-23 from the field (4-of-14 from three) and six rebounds.

“They’re great players,” Friend said. “They use each other really well and their team uses them really well. You can limit great players, but not always stop them.”

The Hornets were led in scoring by Friend who had a double-double with a team-high 24 points and 10 rebounds (four offensive). She was followed in scoring by fellow junior guard, Gabi Bade, who had 19 points on 8-of-12 from the field, five rebounds and three assists.

“Everyone stepped up defensively and offensively we took it to another level,” Friend said. “We can see that we can play with anyone in the Big Sky when we want to.”

Enger has had to step in the starting point guard role with the injury to junior guard Tiara Scott. Enger played well Saturday scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 from the field (2-of-3 from three), four assists and three rebounds.

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“It’s hard because we knew we had them the whole game and were within a couple points,” Enger said. “I think this is a huge step forward for us because we’ve had some tough games earlier this year. To stay that close with the top dog shows we can compete with anyone.”

The Hornets now go on the road to Montana for the final week of the regular season. Sac State plays at Montana State (14-13, 9-8 Big Sky) Thursday at 1:05 p.m. and at the University of Montana (12-14, 7-10 Big Sky) Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

“I think this game brings us momentum going into our last two games and then the Big Sky conference [tournament] as well,” Enger said. “We lost to both Montana [schools] in close games here [at the Nest]. So we owe them both at their place and hopefully, we can get two more wins going into the tournament.”

The first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise, Idaho begins Monday.