Hornets sink Roadrunners 67-46 on rainy Saturday

Sac State women’s basketball reaches 7-2 after win


Jordan Latimore

Junior center Isnelle Natabou works inside on the Roadrunner defense on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at The Nest during a 67-46 Sac State win. Natabou recorded her fourth straight double-double while also adding four blocked shots.

Dylan McNeill, Sports Editor

Head coach Mark Campbell is just nine games into year two and the Sacramento State Hornets women’s basketball team has half of the amount of wins they had in year one. And it seems as if the best is still to come.

Saturday’s win, a 67-46 comfortable home win over CSU Bakersfield in The Nest, showcased the potential of the program, flexing their numerous offensive threats.

Even with a successful 6-2 start for the Hornets, they still oppose complacency, adjusting the starting lineup by inserting freshman Madison Butcher in place of redshirt freshman Benthe Versteeg. The lineup change follows the Sac State loss to San Diego State on Wednesday.

“Both Madison and Benthe have been playing huge roles for us and they’ll continue to both play huge roles for us,” Campbell said. “Next week we’ll figure out what gives us the best chance.”

Butcher didn’t necessarily light the world on fire, shooting 1-6. The Hornets still went +12 in her 22 minutes on the court.

Despite some turnover frustrations in the first half, Sac State was able to establish control with a tone-setting defense, more than was shown in the entirety of Sac State’s FCS playoff game Friday night.

After holding the Roadrunners to 14 points on 35% shooting from the field, the Hornets turned it up a notch in the second quarter, allowing just five points on 2-13 shooting by Bakersfield.

Senior guard Kahlaijah Dean uses her eyes to communicate with a teammate against CSU Bakersfield on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at The Nest during a 67-46 Sac State win. Dean had a +22 plus/minus despite a season low in points (9) and minutes (30).
(Jordan Latimore)

Sophomore guard Katie Peneueta made a trio of first-quarter threes, a welcome sign after going 1-10 from distance the past two games. 

“It was really, really nice to see the ball go in today,” Peneueta said with a laugh on seeing her jump shots fall. “You always get in your head, but as a shooter you gotta shake it off.”

Junior center Isnelle Natabou grabbed her fourth straight double-double, doing so with time left to spare in the first half.

“I catch the ball, I look and I decide ‘what are they doing?’ and I do the exact opposite,” Natabou said. “I always try to create advantage for me and my teammates.”

Throughout the first half the Hornets were able to get quality looks, totaling more points in the paint and from three than the Roadrunners.

The Hornets have consistently been able to get out to leads with explosive first halves, but have struggled to maintain that lead in the second half. That wasn’t the case Saturday as Sac State never blinked and had a response for every Roadrunner run.

“The past few games we’ve had an issue with coming out in the second half flat and losing our lead,” Peneueta said. “We’ve had a lot of learning opportunities and we took advantage of those and came out a lot stronger.”

The Roadrunners went to a press defense in the fourth quarter in efforts to get back in the game, but unlike the two teams earlier meeting this season, the press was no match for Sac State who took the advantage.

“We need to be the ones to control the game and control the tempo,” Natabou said. “Everybody calm down, look at front court, look at your teammates, pass to open player and don’t do anything fancy.” 

Bakersfield never found rhythm on offense, shooting 34% for the game and hitting just four three pointers.

The 2023 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award watchlist member, Natabou showed off for 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. The Roadrunners couldn’t deter Natabou from setting up and going to work on the low block. Natabou also continues to be one of the country’s most efficient scorers, going 9-12 Saturday and is at 70.3% shooting on the year. 

“Isse [Natabou] gave us a great post presence inside,” Campbell said. “That created a lot of open opportunities for our shooters.”

The leading scorer this season for Sac State, senior guard Kahlaijah Dean didn’t show off her usual production, but displayed some crafty finishes while nursing a healing ankle. The secondary scoring for Sac State came from Peneueta and senior guard Kaylin Randhawa. The pair combined for 27 points on 9-20 shooting, including seven threes.

“We have a team full of shooters and playmakers,” Campbell said. “We’re just continuing to grow.”

The Hornets will enjoy a week off before facing off against CSU Northridge on Monday, Dec. 19 on the road at 4 p.m. Sac State has just two games left before the start of Big Sky Conference play.