Sac State women’s basketball team stomps Northern Arizona 76-62

Hornets match season-high in points, as Tillman and Peneueta score 20 apiece.


Rhianna Kahley/NAU Athletics

Graduate guard Lianna Tillman defends a Northern Arizona player driving to the rim Thursday, Feb. 3rd, 2022 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Tillman finished with 19 points and 9 assists in Thursday’s 76-62 win over the Lumberjacks.

Dylan McNeill

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team improved to 10-10 (6-5 Big Sky) Thursday night in Flagstaff, Arizona as they defeated Northern Arizona University (9-10, 6-5 Big Sky) 76-62.

The Lady Hornets got off to a scorching start in quarter one as they jumped off to a blistering 19-2 start over the Lumberjacks in the game’s first six minutes. With graduate guard Lianna Tillman and freshman guard Katie Peneueta grabbing six points each in the hot start for the Hornets. 

Sac State closed off quarter one with a 25-4 lead, setting a dominant tone early. In the second quarter, Northern Arizona responded with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to eight midway through the second quarter. 

Despite the minor Lumberjack run, Sac State weathered the storm by getting back-to-back buckets from Peneueta and sophomore center Isnelle Natabou to push the lead back to 13.

“Our coaches had great communication with me on what my role was and I feel like there is a long way to go, but I’m finally figuring out how to do my job efficiently,”  Peneueta said postgame.

The four points earned by the Lumberjacks in the first quarter were the least the women’s team had allowed in a quarter in all of conference play so far this season.

“The team was dialed in from the tip-off on the defensive end, and did a great job rebounding,” first-year head coach Mark Campbell said. “We did a great job sharing the ball and tonight it found the hot hand, which was Katie.”

The Hornets finished off the first half with a 35-24 lead heading into the break, thanks to tremendous shot-making, shooting 63% from the field in the first half including going 4-8 from three-point land. 

The Lumberjacks kept it close by forcing 13 first-half turnovers from Sac State compared to just four turnovers by NAU in the first half. 

In the second half NAU cut the Hornet lead to just five, but that’s the closest they got. Every Lumberjack run was hushed by a timely jumper by Tillman or a long arching three by Peneueta. 

The Hornets cut down on their mistakes, turning over the ball just four times in the second half leading to more offensive looks. Sac State was hitting on all cylinders, tying the season high in points with 76, which they’ve now hit four times so far.

Sac State also dominated the boards on Thursday, out rebounding NAU 38-20, Natabou and senior wing Summer Menke combined for 27 rebounds themselves. Both Natabou and Menke finished with double-doubles for the Hornets. 

The Hornets had two scorers with 20 points, Tillman finished with nine assists and Peneueta went 6-7 from 3 and is now shooting 54% from behind the arc on the season. 

“My mental approach is always to try to do what I can in order for our team to win,” Tillman said after the game. “I try not to think about stats, just stay level-headed and play my game. My coaches and my teammates trust me to make the right decisions and that’s what I try to do.” 

Tillman currently leads the Big Sky conference in both points and assists. Tillman has now eclipsed 20 points in five straight games for the Hornets.

“This team has many offensive weapons and tonight Katie shot the ball really well,” said Campbell about Peneueta. “A lot of her shots came at key moments in the game.” 

The Lady Hornets are back in action on Saturday in Sacramento as they take on Portland State at 12 pm at The Nest.