Sac State women’s basketball team struggles early in loss to Northern Arizona

Hornets lose to Lumberjacks 85-65, end win streak


Jordan Latimore

Sac State senior guard Camariah King dribbles around Northern Arizona junior guard Lauren Orndoff on Monday, Jan. 27 at the Nest. The Hornets were defeated by the Lumberjacks 85-65.

Shaun Holkko

On a somber night for the basketball community, the Sacramento State women’s basketball team lost 85-65 to Northern Arizona University at the Nest on Monday.

The Hornets (5-13, 3-6 Big Sky Conference) came into the game seeking revenge against the Lumberjacks (9-9, 6-3) who had beaten them in double overtime on Jan. 9. 

The Hornets entered the contest with momentum on a two-game win streak and as winners of three of their last four games.

Sac State played well in the first quarter, using a 7-0 run to get out to a 16-8 lead with 4:13 left in the first period. Northern Arizona responded with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to two. Sac State led 20-17 after the first quarter.

RELATED: Sac State women’s basketball team lose double-overtime heartbreaker at Northern Arizona

The Hornets’ single quarter woes reappeared in the second quarter as they went over four minutes without a basket. The Lumberjacks took advantage of this, going on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Northern Arizona outscored Sac State 16-7 in the second period to take a 33-27 lead into halftime.

The Lumberjacks continued to dominate in the third quarter, going on a 9-0 run to open the half and seize control. Northern Arizona outscored the Hornets 31-20 in the third period to lead 64-47 before entering the final 10 minutes of action.

“I just want to give Northern Arizona a lot of credit,” said coach Bunky Harkleroad. “They were coming off a tough loss and they were the hungrier team tonight, took it to us and we didn’t respond.”

Sac State played a close to even fourth quarter with Northern Arizona, but it was far too late. The Hornets were outscored 21-18 by the Lumberjacks in the final period. Northern Arizona went on to win 85-65.

“Today’s game was just a tough one,” senior forward Kennedy Nicholas said. “I think they did a really great job of scouting. We’ve been doing (our) best in the last couple of games and they did their best to take it away. We didn’t respond as well as we should’ve.”

The difference in the game came in the second and third quarters, as the Lumberjacks combined to outscore the Hornets 47-27 to take command of the game, and eventually win by 20. Another key to the Northern Arizona win was rebounding, as the Lumberjacks dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Hornets 60-38.

“I think this is just another reminder of the nature of the Big Sky,” Harkleroad said. “If you’re not ready to go every night, you’re going to get it. We weren’t ready and we didn’t respond. We lost the 50-50 balls, we lost the physicality and the battle of the boards. So if you’re not going to take care of those things in the Big Sky, it’s going to be tough.”

Sac State had four of its five starters score in double-digits. Nicholas led the charge with a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Senior guard Gabi Bade followed Nicholas with 13 points.

“We practice this whole week (and) the game plan (was to beat them) with our zone defense and NAU had (a) really good counter offense and knew how to break our zone,” sophomore guard Summer Menke said. “We weren’t really prepared for that, they had a really good game and that’s how we fell behind.”

RELATED: Nicholas dominates, leading Sac State women’s basketball team to win

Northern Arizona was led to the victory by a trio of players, each scoring at least 25 points. Junior forward Khiarica Rasheed had a double-double, scoring a game-high 27 points with 12 rebounds. Junior guard Jacey Bailey also had a double-double, with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore forward Nina Radford contributed 25 points.

“They just happened to take our defense in stride and capitalize on our mistakes,” Nicholas said about the Lumberjack’s trio. “It’s just what we’ve done in the last couple of games. So hopefully, our trio can come back and do something that they did tonight to another team.”

The Lumberjacks trio scored 91% of their points. The Hornets have recently been the team led by a trio of hot scorers: Nicholas, senior guard Camariah King and sophomore forward Tiana Johnson. But not on Monday night.

Sac State will attempt to bounce back from this tough loss on the road Saturday afternoon at Eastern Washington, who has also struggled this season. Tip-off at Reese Court is set for 2:05 p.m.