Sac State women’s basketball team loses to Portland State 91-68 on Senior Night

Injuries too much to overcome for Hornets


Shaun Holkko

Sac State sophomore forward Tiana Johnson gets instruction from assistant coach Derrick Florence against Portland State on Friday, March 6 at the Nest. The Hornets fell to the Vikings 91-68 on Senior Night.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team took the court at the Nest for the final time this season to play Portland State on Senior Night Friday.

The Hornets (8-21, 6-14 Big Sky Conference) were unable to overcome several injuries, leading to a 91-68 loss to the Vikings (15-15, 9-11).

Sac State was limited to only nine active players. Senior guard Camariah King and senior forward Kennedy Nicholas were unable to suit up for their final home game due to injuries. King has a broken bone in a finger on her left hand that she suffered at Montana while Nicholas is rehabbing a right ankle injury from a game against Idaho State.

“When they’re healthy, they’re an important part of our program,” said coach Bunky Harkleroad. “Kennedy and Camariah are trying to do what they can in terms of leadership and encourage their teammates.”

Guard Gabi Bade was the only senior to play for Sac State, playing through a right-heel injury. The Hornets and Vikings battled in a back and forth first quarter that ended tied at 17.

RELATED: ‘I never thought she could be an athlete’: The story of senior guard Gabi Bade

Portland State took control of the game for good in the second period. Junior guard Kennedy Burks made a 3-pointer 45 seconds into the quarter, giving Sac State the lead at 20-19. Over the next four minutes, the Vikings went on a 12-0 run, taking a double-digit lead.

Portland State outscored Sac State 26-12 in the second quarter. The Vikings led 43-29 at halftime as the Hornets let one bad quarter plague them once again.

“It wasn’t our worst game, but it wasn’t our best game,” said sophomore forward Tiana Johnson. “We were definitely just in between there. We just couldn’t get over the hump that we kind of dug ourselves in a hole.”

Sac State played better in the third period. The Hornets made 57.9% of their field goals and outscored Portland State 25-19 in the quarter. The Vikings led Sac State by single-digits at 62-54 with ten minutes remaining.

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The Hornets struggled greatly in the fourth to complete the comeback. Portland State made 10-of-16 attempts from the field (62.5%) while Sac State made 4-of-16 (25%). The Vikings outscored the Hornets 29-14 in the final quarter, ultimately spoiling Senior Night with a 91-68 victory.

With only one active Hornet over six feet tall, Portland State took advantage. The Vikings doubled-up the Hornets in the paint 36-18. Ninety-one points is the most that Portland State has scored in Big Sky play this season.

Harkleroad described the loss as “incredibly frustrating.”

“We’re just beaten up pretty badly right now and we’re doing what we can,” Harkleroad said. “Give credit to Portland State. They had two or three mismatches with their size and I thought they did a good job of exploiting that.”

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Sac State was led in scoring by Johnson who tied a game-high with 21 points while grabbing five rebounds. Bade contributed 13 points, eight assists and four rebounds in her final home game. Burks added a game-high 11 rebounds and eight points.

“I thought Gabi played (with) a lot of heart tonight,” Harkleroad said. “She hasn’t been able to do much and I’m really surprised she even played.”

Bade reflected after the game about her time at Sac State with fellow seniors, Nicholas and King.

“It’s not the way we expected this week since they were both injured, I wasn’t able to play with them,” Bade said. “Our goal was to play all of our games together and possibly win the Big Sky Championship together. But it’s not over yet.”

RELATED: Sac State women’s basketball team demolished at Montana State

Sac State finished the regular season 8-21 overall and 6-14 in conference play. The Hornets have had five consecutive losing seasons and compiled a 49-100 record since 2015.

The Big Sky Tournament in Boise, Idaho is next for Sac State. The Hornets are the ninth seed and will play the eighth-seeded University of Northern Colorado Bears (12-17, 8-12). Tip-off is at 1:30 p.m. on Monday at the CenturyLink Arena.

“We gotta move forward from this past game,” Bade said. “I know we play Northern Colorado (who are) a pretty good team. We don’t have Kennedy or Camariah, so we need everyone to step up.”