Sac State women’s basketball team pulls off huge upset in tournament opener

Junior guard Summer Menke gets 10th double-double this season

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Garry Singh

(file photo) Sacramento State’s sophomore guard Jordan Olivares drives in for a layup against Southern Utah on February 18, 2021 at the Nest. the Hornets’ got an upset win against the University of Montana in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Monday.

Garry Singh

The 11th seeded Sacramento State women’s basketball team beat sixth seeded University of Montana in a first-round upset in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, 65-58. 

This was the Hornets’ first tournament win since the 2015-2016 season.

“We came here to make a statement,” said sophomore guard Jordan Olivares speaking to a sideline reporter after the game. “We’re excited to be here and we are not going to stop until we finish our jobs.” 

The Hornets (3-21, 3-18 Big Sky) started the game with a jumper by junior forward Tiana Johnson off a Grizzlies (11-11, 9-9 Big Sky) turnover. Both teams had offensive struggles in the first quarter with multiple scoring droughts and the Hornets trailed 19-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Olivares helped the Hornets get on the board when she got to the free-throw line after they didn’t score in the first two minutes of the second quarter. 

The Hornets were down by nine points with three minutes to go in the half but kept fighting and forced another scoring drought on the Grizzlies. 

Olivares scored a buzzer-beater layup off a turnover to end the second quarter and cut the deficit down to only three points, 30-27. Olivares led the Hornets in scoring with 12 points and the Hornets scored 11 points off turnovers.

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In the first few minutes of the third quarter, Olivares got an offensive rebound and scored a layup and the foul. She completed the three-point play to tie the game at 33.

On the next possession, junior guard Milee Enger got a steal and then capitalized with a layup to put the Hornets up by two, giving them their first lead of the game.

The Hornets went on a 6-0 run with three minutes left in the third quarter to give them a four-point lead. The Grizzlies responded with their own 6-0 run to take back the lead. There was four lead changes in the third quarter alone and junior guard Summer Menke made a driving layup to cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 45-44 heading into the fourth quarter. 

In the fourth quarter, the Hornets kept attacking the basket, which sparked an 8-0 scoring run over a three-minute span. During that time, the Grizzlies called a timeout and had three turnovers in about six minutes and did not score during that stretch.

The Hornets went on a 14-3 run to put the Grizzlies away and win their first-round matchup in a huge upset. The All-Conference honorable mention player Menke had another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Olivares chipped in 15 points and 6 rebounds. The Hornets had five players score in double-digits. 

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“We wanted it, we needed the energy, we got the energy from the bench, we got the energy on the court,” Olivares said, speaking to a sideline reporter after the game. “We’re capable of being great and coming together, that was just a great team win and we never gave up.” 

The key difference in today’s game was the Hornets turning up the defensive pressure by forcing a total of 15 turnovers and scoring 17 points off those turnovers.

The Hornets dominated in the paint with 38 points and had eight steals.

Sac State will be back in action against third seed Montana State in their second-round matchup Tuesday at 7 p.m.