FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The NAU women's basketball team (6-14, 1-7 BSC) will begin the second half of conference play and close its longest home stand of the season against Sacramento State (7-13, 2-5 BSC) at 6:35 p.m. Saturday in Rolle Activity Center. The Hornets claimed a 91-85 double-overtime win over the Lumberjacks the first time the teams met to open Big Sky play on Dec. 29 in Sacramento.
Saturday's game will be the first NAU Dorm Storm Challenge, as dorm floors who participate are entered into a contest with all other floors to win a Super Bowl Party for their floor from Louie's Chicken Shack. RA's who participate and have their floor in attendance will also be put into a raffle with all other RA's to win $100 to the NAU Bookstore, and free rally towels will be handed out to the first 300 fans in attendance.
"This is a game that we have to win," NAU head coach Laurie Kelly said. "We had a chance to beat them the first time but missed free throws and couldn't finish it."
"I think we have to get eight wins to get to the sixth spot (and qualify for the Big Sky Championship)," Kelly added. "We have to win this game and go on the road and win to give ourselves a chance."
Two of NAU's three highest scoring games last season came against the Hornets in a pair of Lumberjack wins, 83-64 and 82-77, and their second highest scoring game this season came in a 91-85 double overtime loss in Sacramento on Dec. 29. Over the last five years and the first game this season (11 games), NAU has averaged 78.6 points per game against the Hornets, 15 points per game better than its overall scoring average over that time (63.6). This season, Sacramento State is second to last in NCAA Division-I women's basketball in allowing 81.1 points per game.
NAU junior guard Amy Patton has been nearly unstoppable in her career against Sacramento State. In five all-time games against the Hornets, Patton has averaged 24.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 43% overall and 40% from three-point range. She has scored 23 or more points in four of the five games, including a career-high 35 points when NAU hosted Sacramento State during her freshman season. The 15 field goals Patton made in that game (on just 23 shots) are the second-most in a game in program history, while the 35 points was the fifth best single-game mark.
Patton's career highs in rebounds (17), assists (8), three-pointers made (6) and minutes played (46) have also all come at the expense of the Hornets. She nearly recorded a triple-double the first time the teams met this season, totaling 23 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists, her third double-double in five games against Sacramento State.
After opening conference play with home wins over Northern Arizona and Weber State, Sacramento State has lost its last five conference games by an average of 12.2 points per game. The Hornets have gone 7-4 in Sacramento but 0-9 on the road this season. While the team ranks second to last in the country in defense, Sacramento State is the highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 72.8 points per game. The Hornets also lead the Big Sky in averaging 16.6 offensive rebounds and 18.3 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the country.
Junior forward Kylie Kuhns had 20 points and 15 rebounds the first time the teams met and leads the country with 16 double-doubles this season and is third in the nation with 12.2 rebounds per game. She also averages 13.8 points per game while senior Emily Christensen and Alle Moreno also average double-digit scoring and point guard Fantasia Hilliard is second in the Big Sky with 4.7 assists per game. Northern Arizona is 27-8 all-time vs Sacramento State and had won two straight meetings before falling to the Hornets in December.