Thursday, March 30, 2023
NHL Tickets

WBB-CS: Portland State Vikings (13-14) at Sacramento State Hornets (21-7)

The Sacramento State women’s basketball team rides a five-game winning streak into the final contest of the regular season on Monday (Feb. 27), as the Hornets host Portland State at The Nest. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., with Sacramento State honoring its senior class 15 minutes prior.

BIG SKY BIG PICTURE: The Hornets currently sit in a tie for second place in the Big Sky Conference standing along with Northern Arizona at 12-5, trailing Montana State by a single game with one to play after the Bobcats claimed at least a share of the conference title on Saturday. Should Sacramento State and NAU end up tied in the standings at the end of Monday, the Lumberjacks will earn the higher seed at the Big Sky Tournament due to their series win over the Hornets. Sacramento State stands two games ahead of Eastern Washington, assuring the Hornets of a top-three seed no matter the outcome on Monday.

IN THE RANKINGS: After two weeks ranked among the top 25 in the College Insider mid-Major poll, Sacramento State slipped back into the ranks of those receiving votes for the sixth consecutive week (, picking up four votes according to the Feb. 21 poll… The Hornets made their debut in the top 25 back on Jan. 3 at No. 24, then jumped two spots to No. 22 in the Jan. 10 ranking… Those two rankings followed five consecutive weeks among those receiving votes beginning on Dec. 1… The No. 22 ranking on Jan. 10 was the highest for the program in the poll since they stood No. 22 on Feb. 11, 2014 — a season that saw them among the top 25 for eight consecutive weeks following an 8-1 start that year, reaching as high as No. 13 in early January.

NATABOU MAKES MID-MAJOR AWARD MIDSEASON CUT: Initially named as one of 25 players to the preseason watch list for the 2023 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award presented by Her Hoop Stats back on Oct. 19, junior center Isnelle Natabou got word that she has made the midseason top-15 cut on Jan. 18. The first Big Sky Conference student-athlete ever to be named to the list for this particular award, Natabou is one of only four from the West Coast named to the list along with Gonzaga’s duo of Brynna Maxwell and Yvonne Ejim as well as Portland’s Alex Fowler. Read the complete release on

NATABOU NAMED TO BIG SKY’S PRESEASON TEAM: In addition to her national honor, Natabou was also named to the seven-member preseason all-conference team, joining Montana State’s Darian White (who was selected the MVP), Idaho’s Beyonce Bea, Montana’s Carmen Gfeller, Northern Colorado’s Hannah Simental, Montana State’s Kola Bad Bear, and Weber State’s Daryn Hickock. The native of the Czech Republic became only the third Hornet to earn preseason all-league honors in the process, joining former standouts Kennedy Nicholas (2019-20) and Brianna Burgos (2016-17).

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!: The accolades continued to roll in for Natabou, who was also named the Big Sky’s Preseason Player of the Year according to, which made its picks for all 32 Division I conferences on Oct. 25.

HIGH FIVE FOR KAHLAIJAH DEAN: For the fifth time this season, senior guard Kahlaijah Dean has been named the Big Sky Player of the Week, sharing the league’s Feb. 21 honor with Montana State’s Kola Bad Bear. Dean averaged 24.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 6.0 apg, while shooting 49 percent from the field in wins over Weber State and Idaho State. Read the complete release at

WHAT IS THE “JOUEUR DE LA SEMAINE?”: It’s the player of the week. That sounds good, we’ll have that. Thanks to Dean’s award on Feb. 21, a Hornet has now been named Big Sky Player of the Week eight times in the season’s 15 weeks (Natabou also took home honors on Nov. 29, Dec. 13, and Feb. 14, while Dean has won four other times on Nov. 22, Dec. 27, Jan. 10, and Jan. 24) — the most of any school in the league. The eight awards as a team this year are, by far, a school record, surpassing the 2012-13 squad, which won the award five times, for the most in a season since joining the Big Sky in 1996-97.

AND THE AWARD GOES TO…: Dean became the first Hornet to win Big Sky weekly honors more than twice in the same season, while her five career awards makes her one of only 10 Sacramento State players in the program’s Division I history to win multiple awards in her career. Dean’s five career wins matches current teammate Isnelle Natabou for the most in school history — a record Natabou held by herself for exactly one week after claiming her fifth career award on Feb. 14.

BIG (SKY) TIME: With one week remaining in the regular season, Dean’s five awards are the most by any one player in the conference this year — breaking a tie with Idaho’s Beyonce Bea — and the most by any Big Sky student-athlete during a single campaign since Montana’s Mandy Morales (2006-07) and Idaho State’s Natalie Doma (2007-08) claimed the honor a league-record six times in their respective years.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS: Portland State enters the regular season finale with a 13-14 overall record and an 8-9 mark in Big Sky play… The Vikings defeated Montana, 74-72, in overtime to start the week and then were smothered by Montana State, 63-34, on Saturday… PSU has lost three of its last four and is just 3-9 away from home this season… Sophomore guard Esmeralda Morales leads the team in scoring at 16.0 ppg, shooting .439 from the field and .429 from three-point range… Jada Lewis (11.3 ppg) and Alaya Fitzgerald (10.1 ppg) are also in double figures for the Vikings, while Rhema Ogele paces the squad on the glass at 5.6 rpg.

SERIES NOTES: Portland State leads the all-time series with Sacramento State by a 33-22 count dating back to 1992… However, the Hornets have won the last three meetings with the Vikings following a 65-56 win in the “Rose City” back on New Year’s Eve… Sacramento State is 11-16 at home against Portland State… The Hornets’ 73-62 triumph at The Nest last season on Feb. 5 snapped a five-game losing streak to the Vikings on their home floor… Four of the last six meetings have been decided by double-digits.

WIN-ACCLE OF SUCCESS: Two years removed from winning just three games, this year’s Hornets will go down in the record books as THE winningest team in school history. Sacramento State’s upset of league-leading Montana State (ending a 10-game winning streak by the Bobcats in the series) was its 20th of the season, giving the Hornet program it’s first-ever 20-win season and breaking a tie for the most wins in school history with the 1990-91 (19-7) and 2012-13 (19-12) squads.

EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN BIG SKY PLAY: In addition to its overall win total, Saturday’s victory over Montana also gave the Hornets their 12th Big Sky triumph of the season and improved them to 12-5 in league play in 2022-23. The 12 wins surpasses last year’s conference win total when Sacramento State finished 10-10 in the Big Sky and gave the program double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since doing so in four straight years from 2012-16. This year’s 12 conference wins are the most since the 2014-15 squad finished 13-5 in league.

MILESTONE APPROACHING: Sacramento State needs only one more win to reach 300 in the program’s Division I history.

TREASURE STATE SWEEP: Thanks to wins over both Montana State and Montana, the Hornets swept the Bobcats and Grizzlies at home for the first time since 2017-18.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING!: Riding a five-game winning streak entering the final regular season game, the Hornets are averaging 73.0 ppg while shooting .502 (128-for-255) from the field overall and .460 (58-for-126) from beyond the arc during their recent run. Meanwhile, the defense has limited opponents to just 58.2 ppg, a .381 (123-for-323) field goal percentage and .325 (27-for-83) from three-point range.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING (PART II)!: With their wins over Montana State and Montana, the Hornets have won their last five consecutive Big Sky Conference contests — a streak that is tied for the third-longest league winning streak in school history.

SAFE AT HOME: The Hornets have made winning at home a habit this season. Sacramento State improved to 10-2 at The Nest with its wins over Montana State and Montana — the most since the 2014-15 squad ended with an 11-3 record at The Nest.

ROAD WARRIORS: Thanks to wins at Weber State and Idaho State in their final road swing of the season, the Hornets posted their eighth and ninth road wins of the year, surpassing the 2009-10 Sacramento State squad (8-7) for the second-most victories away from home and trailing only the 1982-83 Hornets who finished 10-2 on the road.

EIGHTY (TWO) IS GREATY… AGAIN: The Hornets’ 82 points in the win over Montana State tied their season high for a second time after Sacramento State put up 82 at home against Eastern Washington on Jan. 7 and matched that mark with 82 in an overtime defeat to Northern Arizona on Feb. 9. The last time that the Hornets have eclipsed 80 points at least three times in the same season was back during the 2019-20 campaign when they accomplished the feat eight times.

RIDING THE HOT HAND: The league leaders in field goal percentage were up to their old tricks against Montana State last Thursday, shooting 52 percent from the field for game against the Bobcats. That performance marked the ninth time overall — and the fourth time in the previous five outings — that Sacramento State has shot 50 percent or better from the field. After shooting 46 percent from the field in the win over Montana, the Hornets are shooting .499 (190-for-381) in their last seven games.

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: Just like the white winged dove, the shots from beyond the arc were flying through the air in the win over Montana State. Sacramento State drained 17 three-pointers against the Bobcats, shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc in the win — the highest since the Hornets hit 60 percent from distance at Northern Colorado on Feb. 10 last year. The 17 three-pointers were the most since Sacramento State finished with 21 in a 109-107 win at Illinois on Nov. 24, 2018.

IF A THREE FALLS IN THE ARENA…: Does it make a sound? The Hornets have been making a lot of noise from beyond the arc, draining double digits from three-point range in nine of their last 14 contests following their season high 17 three-pointers against Montana State and 10 more in a win over Montana two days later. Sacramento State is shooting .416 (144-for-346) from distance since hitting 12-of-22 from beyond the arc at Northern Colorado on Jan. 12.

NOTHING BUT NET: In addition to the above rankings, the Hornets also stand among the top 20 in the NCAA in both three-point percentage (No. 5) and field goal percentage (No. 14), while ranking No. 10 in three-pointers made per game (8.9) as of Feb. 25.

LET’S GO HALVSIES: In jumping out to an early lead against Montana State, Sacramento State’s 47-point first half against the Bobcats marked the 12th time this season that the Hornets have scored at least 40 points in a single half and is tied for the second-highest single-half scoring total of the year along with the 47-point first half at Montana on Jan. 26. Both totals are just one point shy of the season-high 48-point second half at Northern Colorado on Jan. 12.

Sports Gaming Digest FREE Digital Sports Magazine Subscription

Related Articles

Press Pass Collectibles

Latest Articles

2023 Major League Soccer Schedule, Book 1