Sac State women’s basketball still winless after loss with head coach out due to COVID protocol


Sara Nevis

Sacramento State’s Summer Menke (11) goes up strong for a layup against Portland State’s Desirae Hansen (53) during the first quarter in the conference game at the Nest at Sac State in Sacramento, California, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. Menke had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Garry Singh

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team remains winless on the year after dropping another game in a Big Sky Conference matchup and have lost five out of seven games by 10 or more points. 

This was the Hornets fourth home game of the season and they lost to Portland State 74-64.  

The Hornets (0-7, 0-4 Big Sky) came into this game after losing an overtime thriller to Portland State, 66-64 Thursday at Portland State.

The Hornets came into the game without head coach Bunky Harkleroad, who had to sit out for COVID-19 protocols. Assistant coach Derrick Florence stepped in for Saturday’s game.

Sac State had a iffy start from the jump, only scoring 13 points in the first quarter and shooting 27% from the field, while the Vikings (3-3, 2-2 Big Sky) had 16 points and shot 43%. 

The Hornets kept within striking distance in most of the second quarter, allowing the Vikings a 30-28 lead with 3:49 left in the second quarter after Sac state guard Sarah Abney hit a 3-pointer. 

But the momentum shifted as the Vikings hit a few free throws, a lay up and reserve Morgan Baird hit a falling forward mid-range floater at the buzzer to increase the lead to 37-30 at halftime. 

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Junior guard Summer Menke led the Hornets in scoring and rebounds with 11 points and 7 rebounds in the first half. 

Sac State struggled finishing out quarters in the game.

“Maintaining intensity throughout the game and knowing ‘hey we are up, we’re finally up, we got to stick with this,’ and just kind of putting a little fire underneath us, that we won’t let them back in the game,” said junior forward Tiana Johnson about finishing quarters. 

The Hornets started the second half strong. In the first possession of the third quarter Johnson hit a 3-pointer.

The Hornets took their second lead of the game after a forced turnover led to a 3-pointer by junior guard Jazmin Carrasco to make the score 49-46 with 2:59 left in the third quarter. 

The Hornets were unable to maintain that lead and came into the fourth quarter trailing the Vikings 55-51. They continued to make more defensive mistakes, especially in the paint and ran out of gas. The Vikings hit four of their last five shots while the Hornets went 0-5 on their last shots.

Menke had another double-double with 18 points with 11 rebounds and was a perfect 3-3 from the 3-point line. Johnson had 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals for the Hornets.

For the game, the Hornets shot 36% from the field and 34% from the 3-point arc, had 17 turnovers and 15 assists. Meanwhile, the Vikings shot 49% from the field and 50% from 3-point land.

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The big difference in the game was points in the paint. The Hornets were demolished in the paint with 40 points for the Vikings to only 24 points for the Hornets. After keeping most the game close, the Hornets’ issue of points in the paint seemed to catch up to them in the fourth quarter when the Vikings kept getting easy looks at the rim. 

The Hornets were also out rebounded 42-31 which was another key factor in the loss.

Coach Florence weighed in on what happened in the points in the paint.

“I know we had a challenge in rebounding and that sort of plagued us all year and so we have to do a better job there,” Florence said. “The other part I mentioned is just we were not as sharp in regards to our overall man-to-man defense and our rotations, so when we were in Portland they shot 31% maybe and tonight they almost shot at 50%.”

Another eye-popping statistic that caused the downfall of the Hornets was the bench scoring, where they were outscored 25-11. 

There were a few good takeaways for the Hornets, including outpacing the Vikings in fast break points, blocks and steals.

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Menke said coming out stronger would be key for wins in the future.

“Fire and intensity and we need to come out from the beginning and do it so we don’t have to make it up at the end of the game” Menke said.

The Hornets will look for their first win when facing Idaho State Jan. 14 at 5:05 pm at the Nest in another Big Sky Conference matchup.