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The State Hornet

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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 splits conference matchups in a pair of high-scoring affairs

The Hornets scored a season-high 72 points in their win Saturday
Rinn Lee
Sophomore guard Benthe Versteeg ready to inbound the ball against the Portland Vikings Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at The Nest. Versteeg played the entire game and scored 10 points for Sacramento State.

Saturday: Portland State 65, Sac State 72

It was all hugs and smiles after the Sacramento State women’s basketball team snapped its 12-game losing streak with a 72-65 win over the Portland State Vikings on Saturday thanks to a pair of career-scoring nights from senior forward Solape Amusan and sophomore guard Irune Orio.

Scoring came easy for the Hornets as Amusan and Orio both eclipsed career-highs with 23 and 22 points in a game where it seemed like they couldn’t miss.

“I didn’t want to force anything so I took what the defense gave me,” Amusan said. “Our team needed this bad.”

Amusan started the game by nailing two shots from beyond the arc, draining one as the shot clock expired late in the first quarter.

Along with a strong start from Amusan on the offensive end, the Hornets’ suffocating defense was what gave them the edge as they held the Vikings to 24% from three. Among those affected was junior guard Esmeralda Morales, the Big Sky Conference leader in points per game (17.3), who was held scoreless in the first quarter.

“I felt like we had a good matchup, our goal was to try and crowd her space,” Sac State head coach Aaron Kallhoff said about defending Morales.

Morales would eventually get into rhythm and end with 22 points, but it was matched by Orio who went shot-for-shot with her, scoring eight straight in the second quarter. Orio has been heating up offensively as she has dropped double-digit points in six of her last eight games.

“The confidence that the coaches have had in me has been increasing,” Orio said. “I’ve gotten more opportunities to score and I just made them today.”

Orio continued where she left off in the third quarter, not missing a shot and fueling a 13-3 run to give the Hornets a seven-point lead into the final frame.

As the win became more of a reality for the Hornets, the team’s energy was through the roof. After an and-one from Sac State’s redshirt sophomore guard Benthe Versteeg, the team ran to pick her up off the floor while she fist-pumped and yelled as the ball rolled into the basket.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle with both teams taking turns delivering blows.

The Hornets struggled to find the bottom of the net in the fourth, shooting just 27% from the field and allowed the Vikings to cut the lead to five multiple times.

Fundamentals were highlighted down the stretch when the Vikings began fouling Versteeg, forcing her to earn her points at the line.

Versteeg had a rough shooting night, only making one of seven from the field, but closed the game out by making six consecutive free throws and icing the game for the Hornets, securing their second win of the season.

“You’re trying in your first year to build a culture and build it your way. They’re working and showing up every day,” Kallhoff said. “We just got to eliminate some mistakes, but they kept fighting.”

RELATED: Sac State snaps season-long losing streak against Northridge

Monday: Idaho: 70, Sac State: 64

Following their first conference play win of the season, the Hornets traveled to Moscow, Idaho to take on the Idaho Vandals. Sac State’s third quarter struggles were the difference in this 64-70 loss.

The Vandals came out of the gate looking to score inside the arc. Idaho went on a 12-0 run with sophomore guard Asha Phillips leading the way, scoring seven first quarter points.

Versteeg ended the Idaho run with four straight points to end the quarter. Versteeg was able to put together a 15-point first half after she consistently got to the basket and earned trips to the free throw line.

“It is always important to get in and out of the paint with the ball,” Versteeg said. “I know that my strength is going in the paint and creating shots for myself and other teammates.”

Sac State’s offense built off of this momentum in the second quarter behind the play of freshman forward Summah Hanson. Hanson started the quarter off with a layup and later connected on a three-point shot. She finished the game with a team-high 23 points.

“I think I was letting the game come to me and I was trusting my initial instincts, which allowed me to play how I want and add to the team’s scoreboard,” Hanson said.

The Vandals regrouped after a timeout and scored six straight points to regain the lead. From there on, both teams went back and forth trading points inside the paint.

Idaho’s lead was cut down to two points heading into halftime but the Vandals were able to extend their lead in the second half after improving on the glass. They grabbed a total of 11 offensive rebounds in the second half after only securing two in the first.

“That was a game changer to help them with the rebounding battle,” Kallhoff said. “On some possessions, it gave them two to three opportunities and they were able to capitalize off of it.”

To make matters worse for the Hornets, Versteeg picked up her fourth foul with four minutes to go in the third quarter and had to go to the bench. Sac State struggled without one of their top players on the floor and the Vandals took advantage of it.

After only making one three-pointer in the first half, Idaho made four in the third quarter. Hanson was able to respond with a triple of her own with just four seconds remaining but the Hornets now trailed by 12.

Sac State was in need of a big fourth quarter and their defense rose to the occasion. The Hornets held the Vandals to only three made field-goals in the quarter but the offense couldn’t capitalize.

The Hornets lost many offensive possessions due to fouls and turnovers, they finished the game with a total of 15 turnovers and when the offense got going in the final minutes, it was too late. Idaho knocked down their free throws to close out the game and secure the six-point victory.

Sac State will return to The Nest to face the Idaho State Bengals on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

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About the Contributors
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.
Jahson Nahal
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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