Sac State women’s basketball team’s shooting woes lead to 62-43 loss at Cal Poly

Hornets make only 1 field goal in the 4th quarter


Richard Ivanowski

Sac State sophomore point guard Milee Enger pursues a loose ball in the third quarter at Nevada on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nevada. The Hornets lost on the road to Cal Poly on Wednesday 62-43.

Richard Ivanowski

The last two times the Sacramento State women’s basketball team faced off against Cal Poly, it won both games in nail biting fashion, with final scores of 88-85 in 2018 and 97-96 in 2016. 

But when the Hornets traveled to San Luis Obispo Wednesday morning to take on the Mustangs, history did not repeat itself. 

This time Sac State did not get a win, and this time the game was not so close.

Sac State (1-3) shot only 24% from the field and lost big to Cal Poly (1-4) by a final score of 62-43.

Senior forward Kennedy Nicholas made her first start of the year, having recovered from an ankle sprain. Joining her in the starting five were senior guard Gabi Bade, junior guard Kennedy Burks, sophomore guard Summer Menke and sophomore point guard Milee Enger.

RELATED: Hornets sprint past Cal Poly to win season opener 88-85

The Hornets started strong and jumped out to a 12-7 lead, which was bolstered by a spark off the bench in sophomore guard Brooke Panfili.

Panfili drained two back-to-back 3-pointers, neither of which touched anything but net. Panifili, who had only three combined points across Sac State’s first three games, was one of the bench players that head coach Bunky Harkleroad had previously identified for a potential breakout this season.

Sac State led 21-14 after the first quarter, with Panfili’s six points as a team-high.

At the seven-minute mark in the second quarter, Sac State’s full-court press defense briefly overwhelmed Cal Poly. Nicholas scored and Bade stole the resulting in-bounds pass, finishing with an easy layup. Enger then stole the subsequent in-bounds pass again, denying the Mustangs any breathing room.

Energy on both sides of the ball continued to be Sac State’s calling card, but their offense faltered later in the second quarter. The Hornets gave up a 10-2 run to Cal Poly to end the quarter and surrendered the lead before half.

The Mustangs led the Hornets 31-29 at halftime. Cal Poly freshman point guard Abbey Ellis led all scorers with 14 points.

Sac State continued its downward slide at the start of the second with a couple of ugly turnovers. They missed 10 of their first 11 shots in the second half and saw Cal Poly’s lead explode out to 48-32.

The Hornets scored a total of three points in the first eight minutes of the third quarter. A late surge of seven points provided a glimmer of hope, as they cut Cal Poly’s lead to 53-39 at the end of the third.

The fourth quarter wasn’t any better for the Hornets’ offense, as they went another eight-minute stretch with only three points scored.

With 47 seconds left, sophomore guard Emily Enochs hit a free throw that allowed the team to avoid posting their worst quarter since January of 2019 when Sac State only managed three points in the third quarter of their game against Idaho State.

RELATED: Shooting struggles doom women’s basketball team in loss to Idaho State

Sac State made only 17.9% of their shots in the second half and was outscored 31-14.

Ellis, an Australian-born standout for Cal Poly, played all 40 minutes and finished with a game-high 29 points. Her 12 made field goals nearly matched Sac State’s total of 15.

The final score of 62-43 was the biggest loss of the season for Sac State, and undoubtedly their most disappointing showing of the year thus far.

Sac State will look to turn things around against Causeway rival UC Davis next Tuesday at The Pavilion in Davis.