Sac State women’s basketball earns first Big Sky win: 70-58 against Portland State

Star athletes Lianna Tillman and Isnelle Natabou played a big role in the Hornets’ big win


Ayaana Williams

Graduate guard Lianna Tillman handles the ball at the top of the key in a 75-46 loss against UC Davis at the Golden 1 Center on Nov. 23, 2021. Tillman was a key player in Sac State’s defeat of Portland State University 70-58 on Saturday, Jan 15, 2021.

John Cabales

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team got a 70-58 road Big Sky win at Peter W. Stott Athletic Center against Portland State on Saturday.

The Hornets (5-9, 1-4 Big Sky) and the Vikings (5-6, 0-3 Big Sky)  were winless in the Big Sky up to this point, and the events of the first half gave some possible hints as to why that might be.  After a slow start, Sac State and Portland State struggled to score and committed multiple turnovers in the first half.  

To open things up, the Vikings doubled sophomore center Isnelle Natabou and did not allow her any easy baskets in the first half.

While they were containing Natabou, there was no answer for graduate point guard Lianna Tillman the whole game. She was able to blow by her defender and get into the lane to score or dump the ball off for an assist. 

“I honestly was just taking what the defense gave,” said Tillman. “Trying to make the simple plays to help our team win.” 

Despite how efficiently Tillman played, the rest of the team struggled to find the bottom of the basket, shooting 5-23 from the field, leading to the Hornets facing a 30-25 halftime deficit.

The second half went very differently, as both teams came out strongly in the third quarter, starting with a jump shot from Tillman and a 3-pointer from senior guard Summer Menke, who contributed 15-points, six assists and four rebounds.

After a back and forth game, the Hornets tied it up with a 3-pointer from freshman guard Katie Peneueta and would take the lead after a layup from Natabou. 

The Hornets went into the fourth quarter up by one point at 48-47, and went strong under Tillman’s lead, who would end the game with 29 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. 

With Tillman taking over and commanding so much attention from the Vikings’ defense, the game opened up to a strong offense for her teammates, including Natabou.

Natabou would record another double-double with 14 points and 21 rebounds by the end of the game, putting on yet another display of domination in the paint.

“I am aware that all teams are getting ready for me every time, and even though I am not the leading scorer every game, I will always deliver something strong from different areas,” said Natabou.

The Hornets 2-2-1 zone defense also gave the Vikings offense some trouble. The Hornets outscored them 22-11 in the fourth quarter, giving them a 70-58 win, bringing their record to 5-9 and their Big Sky record to 1-4.

The Hornets will play again on Jan. 20 against Eastern Washington at home in the Nest at 7 p.m.