Sac State women’s basketball team suffers 68-57 loss against Northern Arizona

Hornets are winless against conference opponents this season with their third loss in a row on Monday.


John Cabales

Graduate guard Lianna Tillman dribbling the ball down court in the Hornet’s Nest on Jan. 10, 2022. The Hornets lost to Northern Arizona University 68-57, Lianna finished the game with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

John Cabales

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team continued their losing streak Monday after their third consecutive defeat. The Hornets were unable to complete the comeback against Northern Arizona University, losing the game 68-57.

NAU (7-6, 4-1 Big Sky) played suffocating defense against the Hornets (4-9, 0-4 Big Sky) from tip-off until the final buzzer. The Lumberjacks  denied sophomore center Isnelle Natabou the ball throughout the entire game.  Even when  she did get her hands on it, the NAU defense  double teamed her, making it hard for her to score. 

On the other end, NAU put pressure on Natabou and the Hornets as they attacked the paint and had their way offensively. They got on the board first with a layup from Lauren Orndoff and did not give up the lead once. 

The first quarter was Sac State’s least efficient showing of the game, as they shot 26.7% from the field, digging themselves into a 21-11 hole.

“We gotta play better defensively,”  said head coach Mark Campbell. “Offensively we gotta take care of the ball, and our post struggled in the first half giving us a presence down there.”

One of the lone offensive sparks for Sac State was graduate point guard Lianna Tillman, who scored seven unanswered points to start off the second quarter, bringing the Hornets within three points.

Senior guard Summer Menke was able to chip in five points as well, but her and Tillman did not get much help offensively.

NAU did not outperform Sac State offensively, but they did just enough to stay in the lead and went into halftime up 34-25.

Coming out of halftime, NAU would go right back to what they did in the first quarter as the Hornets were unable to keep the Lumberjacks in front of them.

That would continue until the fourth quarter, when the Hornets ramped up the intensity and refused to go down without a fight. Coach Campbell switched to a small ball lineup with freshman guard Katie Peneueta at center.

Going small seemed to be a crucial success for Sac State, as Peneueta was able to switch and guard every position on the floor. Even though the Hornets would shoot 58.3% from the floor and force the Lumberjacks to shoot 33.3%, there wasn’t enough time left to make a comeback.

“This was a smaller team and I grew up as a post so I’m used to that,” Peneueta said. “I like working down low.”

Even with Tillman having her way with the Lumberjacks defense, scoring 21 points, it just was not enough to get the Hornets their first conference win.

“We’re just trying to figure it out, figure out how to win,” Tillman said. “We have to do a better job defensively, that’s what’s been killing us.”

With this loss, the Hornets are now 0-4 in conference play and five games below .500. They will get another chance to earn their first Big Sky win in their matchup against Portland State in Portland, Oregon at Viking Pavilion today at noon.