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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State snaps season-long losing streak against Northridge

The Hornets were the losers of six straight before their 58-48 win Saturday
Orlando Fuller
Redshirt sophomore guard Benthe Versteeg attempts to drive past her defender against the Matadors at The Nest Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. Versteeg had a team high nine assists.

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team doused first-year head coach Aaron Kallhoff with water after the Hornets won their first game of the season on Saturday. This was a special moment as it was the first collegiate win for many on this young roster.

After a deflating five-point loss against Santa Clara on Wednesday, Sac State entered the matchup against Northridge as the losers of six straight. The Hornets responded with a great display of energy and hustle to put together their best defensive performance of the season.

“To finally get this, it means a lot,” freshman forward Summah Hanson said. “So happy for everyone on the team because everyone played their role really well.”

Sac State’s guard duo of redshirt sophomore Benthe Versteeg and sophomore Irune Orio were doing it all in the first quarter. After Versteeg’s defender overcommitted for a steal, she swung the ball to Orio on the wing who nailed a three-pointer to score the first points of the game for the Hornets.

Versteeg recorded a career-high 10 assists in their last contest and her playmaking ability was on display yet again. Orio set a screen for Versteeg and popped back out to the three-point line where Versteeg found her for a second three-pointer.

“I just try to give everything I have every time,” Orio said. “I don’t want to think after the game that I didn’t do something that I could have done.”

The threat of Orio’s shooting allowed her to fake her defender at the three-point stripe and step up to make an open mid-range jump shot. Orio had eight points in the first quarter and finished the game with her career-high of 16 points.

Matadors redshirt junior forward Talo Li-Uperesa responded to the Hornets’ run with a corner triple of her own, but it was the last field goal Northridge would make in the quarter.

Sac State’s zone defense was switching and closing out on shooters well, which resulted in Northridge only scoring nine points on 17.6% shooting in the quarter.

RELATED: Sac State struggles to limit scoring runs in consecutive losses

Despite the Matadors’ shooting woes, the Hornets only led by five points heading into the second quarter as they suffered from their own scoring drought to end the quarter.

“I would’ve liked to see us have a little more separation after that first quarter because I felt like we came out with a good game plan and felt like we got good shots,” Kallhoff said.

The second quarter was back-and-forth with both teams trading layups and trips to the free throw line until junior guard Seilala Lautaimi came off the bench, lighting a spark for the Hornets.

Lautaimi has been one of the most efficient rebounders for the Hornets this season. She showed that by immediately grabbing an offensive rebound after checking in and earning a trip to the charity stripe where she made two second-chance free throws.

Sac State extended their run after senior forward Solape Amusan reached up to steal an inbounds pass. Versteeg got the ball down court to Lautaimi who leaked out and made a layup through contact to extend the run to 7-0.

Sac State had an 11-point lead going into halftime which was the first time they led at halftime all season.

Despite a rough shooting first half, Hanson started the second half on fire. She drove inside for a layup and followed it up with a three-pointer on the wing to score five straight points.

“I think my teammates were finding me good shots and we were executing our plays well which was getting me open,” Hanson said. “It was going in finally.”

Hanson kept rolling and made a corner three-pointer on a fastbreak to extend the Sac State lead to 20.

The Hornets were outscoring the Matadors 17-8 in the quarter until Northridge went on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes. The Matadors converted an and-one layup and knocked down a pair of free throws to put a damper on the Hornets’ third-quarter success.

Orio ended the run after she intercepted a pass and took it the length of the court for a layup to get the fourth quarter started for the Hornets.

Both teams traded points in the paint until Northridge junior guard Erica Adams made a three-pointer to narrow the Sac State lead to six with under three minutes to go.

Lautaimi responded with a clutch layup on the next possession to extend the Hornets’ lead back up to eight. A costly offensive foul on the Matadors gave the ball back to Sac State where they were able to waste time off the clock.

“We gave up a 10-0 run again but we fought it through,” Kallhoff said. “We had a big enough cushion.”

Northridge junior guard Amiyah Ferguson made a pull-up jump shot with 45 seconds left, but they were going to need some missed Sac State free throws to have a chance to complete the comeback.

Hanson stepped up to the line and knocked down both free throws. The Hornets forced a missed three on the other end and Hanson iced the game with a layup to give Sac State a 58-48 victory.

“If we can just play hard, we’re going to end up getting better offensively, but to hold a team under 50 points. That’s what I wanted,” Kallhoff said.

The Hornets will get a long break before traveling to Fresno to take on the Bulldogs on Dec. 16.

“We’re 1-0 in December now, so we’re going to keep building,” Hanson said.

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About the Contributor
Jahson Nahal, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Jahson Nahal is a graduating journalism major who is in his second semester as a sports staffer for The State Hornet. Previously, he was the sports editor for The American River College Current. He hopes to work in the sports media industry one day.
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