Women’s basketball picks up first win of the season in Santa Clara

Hornets improves to 1-1 after defeating the Broncos

%28FILE%29+Senior+guard+Kahlaijah+Dean+finishes+around+a+UC+Irvine+defender+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.12%2C+2022%2C+in+The+Nest+at+Sacramento+State+in+a+60-58+Sac+State+loss.+The+Hornet+duo+pictured%2C+Dean+and+sophomore+center+Isnelle+Natabou%2C+combined+for+50+of+the+Hornets+73+points+in+their+win+Monday.

Fernando Navarrete

(FILE) Senior guard Kahlaijah Dean finishes around a UC Irvine defender on Saturday, Nov.12, 2022, in The Nest at Sacramento State in a 60-58 Sac State loss. The Hornet duo pictured, Dean and sophomore center Isnelle Natabou, combined for 50 of the Hornets 73 points in their win Monday.

Dylan McNeill

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team got their first win of the season facing off against the Santa Clara University Broncos in a 73-63 win.

Sac State rode the hot hands of senior guard Kahlaijah Dean and sophomore center Isnelle Natabou to victory. The duo combined for 50 points and made the game for the Hornets when Dean found Natabou with a nifty no-look pass.

Natabou finished off the layup and the Hornets finished off the win, something they weren’t able to do during Saturday’s loss.

The Hornets defense got off to a slow start as the Broncos raced out of the gates, scoring 22 in the opening quarter before Sac State locked in on getting stops. The Hornets allowed only 11 points in the second quarter on 29% field-goal shooting from Santa Clara.

For Sac State, the combination of Dean and Natabou scored all 18 of the first-quarter points for the Hornets. 

“My team deserves every piece of fuel left in me so stay sharp and alert till [the] buzzer says it’s over,” Natabou said, “I have time and the ability to make the right decision, which must benefit my team.”

While the pair cooled off offensively in the second quarter, the success of sophomore forward Katie Peneueta’s three pointers and another three pointer by freshman forward Madison Butcher helped Sac State usurp Santa Clara and take the lead into halftime.

It was the Kahlaijah Dean show in the third quarter, shooting 6-7 in the frame, including a pair of three pointers. Santa Clara had just two more points than Dean in the quarter. 

Dean’s takeover was reminiscent of Sac State’s Big Sky MVP Lianna Tillman from last season.

“[My teammates’] belief in me just makes me want to work harder and be better for them — it was a team effort,” Dean said.

Santa Clara cut the lead to as low as four points with under three minutes to play, but two straight layups from Natabou put this one out of reach for the Broncos. Sac State did a much improved job putting this game away compared to their loss after leading to UC Irvine Saturday.

“It was neat to see the progression. There’s growing pains when you got eight new players and as you’re forming your identity for this year’s group,” head coach Mark Campbell said.

“It’s a work in progress.” 

It was another efficient night for Sac State’s offense, making 54% of their field goal attempts, eight of their 19 three pointers, and all seven of their free throw attempts.

Dean finished with 27 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Natabou added 23 points along with seven rebounds. The third leading Hornet scorer, Peneueta added 14 points and 10 rebounds, tallying her first double-double of the season.

“Both of them [Natabou and Dean] played really well at both ends of the court,” Campbell said. “Those names show up a little more in the stat sheet, but there was some other kids who had a big impact on the game.”

 It came down to ball control to close this game out. The Hornets had thirteen turnovers Monday, less than half of the 27 they had against Irvine. 

With the talent Sac State has on offense, all they have to do is hold on to the ball.

“The big emphasis was to just allow the game to happen and make reads,” Dean said.

”If I’m able to do that the turnovers decrease.” 

The Hornets return to The Nest Saturday night as they host UC Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m. Available for stream here.