Sac State women’s basketball team falls short in crunch time

Milee Enger has career-high 24 points


Garry Singh

Sacramento State’s junior guard Milee Enger prepares to shoot a free throw in a game at the Nest against Montana State University on Wednesday, March. 3, 2021. Enger had a career-high 24 points.

Garry Singh

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team lost the first game of the season series against Montana State University by a score of 61-57 Wednesday.

The Hornets continue to keep games close but have struggled to finish games, suffering several late losses this season.

“I thought we were aggressive,” said Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad. “We had a couple minute letdown in the third and we came back and kept fighting and had another letdown at the end.”

The Hornets (2-20, 2-17 Big Sky) were coming off an overtime loss against Weber State University where junior forward Tiana Johnson hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, but the Hornets were outscored 10-4 in the overtime period on their way to another loss.

The Hornets started the game with the first punch going on a 6-0 scoring run in the first few minutes of the game. However, the Bobcats (15-6, 12-3 Big Sky) kept within striking distance despite a three-minute scoring drought in the quarter.

Though the Hornets had an 18-16 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Bobcats came out in the second quarter with a layup and a mid-range jumper to quickly take the lead.

The Hornets answered back with a 3-pointer from junior guard Milee Enger, who kept the Hornets’ offensive rhythm by hitting her next two 3-pointers. That sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Hornets a 29-22 lead with about three minutes left in the second quarter.

At the end of the second quarter, the Hornets led 30-26 but could not capitalize on the energy boost, going on a three-minute scoring drought of their own. Enger went into halftime with 15 points and Johnson had eight points with 10 rebounds going into the second half.

“The biggest thing is holding our composure,” said Johnson. “We know what plays they are doing so it’s just about executing and staying disciplined”.

The Hornets showed promise coming out the half, getting to the cup and pushing their lead to their largest margin of the game at eight with 4:44 left to play in the third quarter. That is when things for Harkleroad’s team begin to unravel.

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At the start of the fourth quarter, the Bobcats kept fighting and came out with a 15-2 run to shift the momentum their way and take the lead 57-50.

After a timeout, Enger answered for the Hornets, scoring three clutch buckets down the stretch including a 3-pointer to tie the game at 57 with 1:48 left on the clock. The momentum looked to be back in the Hornet’s possession.

Unfortunately, the heroic effort by Enger would not be enough. The Hornets gave up a 3-pointer to the Bobcats and then were not able to convert on the other end.

“We missed enough free throws to win the game, we missed enough lay ups to win the game and there was two possessions were we missed multiple box outs and they ended up hitting a three after multiple rebounds on the same possession,” Harkleroad said. “Those two, I would like to have either one of those back.”

Enger led all scorers with 24 points and hit five shots from the 3-point arc. Johnson chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

“We got out and led the game for like 35 minutes,” Enger said. “We just have to play all 40 minutes and this has just been just the story of the season.”

Offensive rebounds were a major parts of the game, the Bobcats had 19 offensive rebounds to the Hornets 12 but the Bobcats offensive rebounds were in defining moments of the game, giving them extended possessions and second-chance points.

“They had an extra body or two down there, thier depth was a little better than ours,” Harkleroad said.

Sac State will be back in action again against Montana State University on March 5 at 12 p.m. at the Nest.