Sac State women’s basketball beats San Jose State in hard fought home opener

Isnelle Natabou leads comeback win with a double-double


Jordan Latimore

Senior guard Jazmin Carrasco drives to the basket against San José State on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, at the Hornets Nest. Sacramento State defeated the Spartans in a thrilling 75-65 victory.

John Cabales

The Hornet’s Nest was loud and packed as Sacramento State women’s basketball defeated San José State 75-65 in its home opener.

“I’m just so proud of everyone,” said head coach Mark Campbell. “We dug a hole and these kids in the fourth were resilient and had good stops and good shots and found a way to win.”

RELATED LINK: Sac State women’s basketball makes splash hire of Mark Campbell

Sophomore center Isnelle Natabou would lead the fourth quarter comeback and record a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

The Hornets came out swinging from the jump with back-to-back threes from graduate guard Lianna Tillman and sophomore guard Jessica Rios.

The Spartans responded with back-to-back buckets, but senior guard Summer Menke would get a layup and force San José to take a timeout with the score at 8-4.

San José started to get in a groove and tied the game up at 11 with a three from senior forward Deja Ross.

The Spartans would take the lead with free throws from senior forward Cydni Lewis and a three from junior point guard Stephanie Torres.

The first quarter would end with San José up 16-13.

The second quarter was much like the first with the Hornets and Spartans trading baskets that kept the game close.

The Spartans would tie the game up at 27 with a three from junior guard Ella Ogier and go on a short run.

The Hornets continued to fight and would get the lead back at the end of the quarter with a score from Natabou and a jumper from sophomore guard Jazmin Carrasco.

The Hornets were up 33-31 at halftime.

The Spartans came out in the second half hot going on a 7-0 run and forcing Campbell to call a timeout.

The Hornets would finally end the Spartans run with a layup from Natabou off an assist from Menke.

San José stayed aggressive with a three from sophomore guard Ellie Boni, but the Hornets would respond with another layup from Natabou.

Senior guard A’tyanna Gaulden would cause Menke to turn the ball over leading to a fast break score and the Hornets being down 11 with just over four minutes left in the third.

RELATED LINK: Sac State women’s basketball loses season opener 90-71

The Hornets had no answer for the Spartans in the third as they shot 60% from the field and 43% from three, and the Hornets would be down 58-45 at the end of the quarter

“We started a little bit sinking down, and I knew that we needed to get it back,” Natabou said.

The Hornets would start their comeback with a three from Carrasco.

Sac State continued to trim the lead down with another three from Rios and a jumper from Natabou leading to a timeout from San José.

“We were kind of backed into a corner,” Campbell said. “We were running out of time and the margin for error was shrinking. We had to get a stop, and we had to get a great shot every time.”

That is exactly what the Hornets would do.

Tillman hit a three coming out of the timeout putting them only down by four 63-59.

The crowd would get into the game being very loud, and the players would feed off that energy.

“Last year was my first year here, and we had no fans so just feeling the energy in the Nest, it was great,” Carrasco said. “Hearing the crowd cheering as soon as you hit a shot just pumps you up even more.”

Menke would get fouled after causing a turnover and hit both free throws to put them within two.

Hornets stayed locked in causing another turnover and would take the lead 64-63 with a three from Rios.

Ogier would score for the Spartans, but Natabou would answer with a putback layup.

Both teams continued to trade baskets until the end of the game causing San José State to intentionally foul until the end of the game.

They would send Carrasco to the line twice, but she hit all four free throws, icing the game for the Hornets.

“I was very confident in myself that I could make the free throws at the line,” Carrasco said. “I got fouled the first time for the first two, and then the second time I was looking for whoever had the ball so that they [could] come find me.”

The win marked Campbell’s first as Sac State’s head coach.

The Hornets will play again at The Nest on Tuesday against Sonoma State at 6 p.m.