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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

Fouls plague Sac State down the stretch in a tough loss

A double-digit lead for Sac State vanishes after fouls pile up late
Orlando Fuller
Redshirt sophomore guard Benthe Versteeg finds herself in the corner scanning the court for a possible lane to the basket Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at The Nest. She finished the game against Montana Thursday with 18 points and 5 rebounds.

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 58-57 loss on Thursday to the Montana Grizzlies after the sound of whistles echoed in The Nest.

It was a scrappy game from the tip as both teams took turns dealing fouls to each other.
Redshirt sophomore guard Benthe Versteeg set the tone early, stealing the ball away from the Grizzlies two times in the first two minutes of the game, forcing a quick timeout from Montana.

The Grizzlies returned the favor as Versteeg was knocked to the floor and doubled all night, causing her trouble to score early. Versteeg finished the first half with only four points.

“Of course it’s frustrating,” Versteeg said. “Sometimes it just goes in and out.”

Montana avoided extra contact, firing away three-pointers early with nine of their first 11 points coming from behind the arc.

The Grizzlies forced the Hornets to scramble defensively, but couldn’t capitalize on open shots. Sac State’s head coach Aaron Kallhoff noticed the lapse from his team, jumping up and down on the sideline trying to get their defense set.

“We got to talk and we got to execute defensively,” Kallhoff said.

Freshman forward Summah Hanson led the team in physicality, scoring 12 of her 21 points in the paint and adding 11 rebounds, with six of them being on the offensive end.

“I enjoy the toughness and wanted to get back at them for the last game,” Hanson said. “A bit annoying that we weren’t getting the same calls.”

Senior forward Solape Amusan dives onto the floor to wrestle the ball away for possession against a Montana player. She finished the game with 8 points and 7 rebounds Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at The Nest. (Orlando Fuller)

The Hornets continued to let the Grizzlies shoot from deep, holding them to 22% from three and walked into the half up 26-18. Unfortunately for the Hornets, things would quickly change to start the second half as Montana came out and knocked down shots at will.

RELATED: Sac State forward sets single-season record in loss

The Grizzlies would find open shooters time and time again through the next two quarters, hitting their threes over 30% the rest of the way.

“I think we weren’t switching up high enough,” Hanson said. “Last time they broke the three-point record on us so we should have done a lot better job at shutting that down.”

The scramble defense hurt the Hornets as the Grizzlies would mount a 9-0 run to cut it to a one-point game midway through the third.

After a couple of scores from both teams to make it 41-36 in favor of the Hornets, neither team could find a bucket and went scoreless in the final two minutes of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter consisted of a back-and-forth battle between the duo of Hanson and Versteeg and the Grizzlies three-point shooters.

Versteeg and Hanson were working the pick-and-rolls, finishing with a soft touch around the basket. Versteeg would fill the box score in the fourth and bring her totals up to 18 points, five rebounds and four steals for the game.

The duo for the Hornets kept them afloat in a tight game and gave them a six-point lead with under six minutes to go, but Sac State would get outscored 15-8 down the stretch.

It was physical in the last minute of the game as Hanson and Versteeg were dropped to the floor by hits from the Grizzlies, picking up bruises in the process. They would both go to the line and put the Hornets up five with under a minute to go, but it all came crashing down as Versteeg picked up two fouls, picking up her fifth in the process and fouling out of the game.

“You’re the leader, the point guard of your team and it’s hard to foul out,” Versteeg said. “I need to do better at that.”

After Versteeg exited the game, the Hornets would fall apart, turning the ball over and then leaving a Grizzlies shooter wide-open to tie the game at 57.

Sac State had a shot to grab the lead again, but a three-point attempt by freshman guard Lina Falk fell short as Montana recovered it.

The Grizzlies had 1.2 seconds to win and as the game-winning shot attempt went up, a foul was called on senior forward Solape Amusan, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

Montana junior guard MJ Bruno walked up to the line and missed the first free throw, but silenced The Nest as the second was nothing but net.

“I don’t like that they could just put their hands on us and then we’re going to get them at the free throw line,” Kallhoff said. “I think everybody in the gym had the same outlook unless you’re in the maroon.”

Sac State will play their last home game of the season on Saturday as they welcome the Montana State Bobcats to The Nest.

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About the Contributor
Adam Camarena
Adam Camarena, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Adam Camarena is a fourth-year transfer student majoring in journalism and in his first semester at The State Hornet. He was previously an editor for Cosumnes River College's publication, The Connection, and a broadcast journalist at Long Beach State. His career goal is to become a sports media member.
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