College Sports

Sac State women top UC Davis with ‘four-point’ game plan

Sacramento State shot an NCAA Division I record 80 three-pointers and took 111 shots and still lost 117-99 at 17 Cal last weekend.

So the Hornets knew they needed to shoot more accurately if they hoped to beat a UC Davis team riding a six-game winning streak into their Causeway Cup rivalry game on Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion.

During the week, the Hornets worked intently on shooting. They studied film. Practiced shooting on the move. And instead of working on just three-pointers, they took some “four-pointers,” too.

“Those are really long shots,” said junior guard Brianna Burgos, a former Sheldon High School star. “We practiced a lot of shots from a foot or more beyond the three-point line because we knew Davis was pretty long.”

The focus on NBA-distance shooting paid off handsomely for the 5-foot-6 Burgos and the Hornets in their annual rivalry game. She scored career and game highs of 26 points, and the Hornets shot a season-best 41.8 percent as they topped the Aggies 92-77.

Burgos was 10 of 16 from the field, with 11 attempts coming from beyond the arc. She made six three-pointers and had 18 second-half points as the Hornets (2-5) snapped a five-game losing streak.

Some of Burgos’ shots would make Stephen Curry proud.

“I’m used to shooting from far away,” said Burgos, who also had three rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers in playing a team-high 25 minutes. “I did it all the time in high school because I’m usually one of the shortest players out there.”

Senior guard Adella Randle-El added 23 points; sophomore guard Maranne Johnson had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six steals; and junior guard Gretchen Harrigan had 11 points and five steals for the Hornets. Sac State slightly surpassed their D-I nation-leading three-pointers made per game (12.5) by hitting 13 of 41.

“Bri obviously did a great job of knocking down some shots – she’s an amazing shooter,” said Sac State coach Bunky Harkleroad. “We got a lot of positives out of Gretchen, Adella and Maranne. Those three have to lead us.”

Redshirt freshman Morgan Bertsch, a 6-foot-4 forward, led UCD (6-3) with a career high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting. She also had a career-high eight rebounds.

The game was a contrast in styles, pitting tall and methodical UCD against short and quick Sac State.

The Aggies started five players 5-11 or taller, including Bertsch, 6-3 Alyson Doherty and 6-0 Celia Marfone. Sac State started four guards listed between 5-7 and 5-8 and 6-foot forward Margaret Huntington.

It was a battle of wills in the first half as the lead changed hands 17 times and there were 10 ties. But the Hornets scored seven of the last eight points of the second quarter to lead 50-44 at halftime, a lead they would never relinquish.

UCD shot a season-high 56 percent from the field, had a 43-34 advantage on the boards and outscored Sac State 56-34 in the paint. But the Hornets forced 27 turnovers, and had 17 steals and a remarkable 33-2 advantage in points off turnovers. The Hornets entered the game ranked No. 2 nationally in steals with 14 per game.

“That’s the plan every game: get steals and force turnovers,” Burgos said. “Today we used a little bit more of our run-and-jump press because they were a little slower, and we were able to get into their passing lanes to create turnovers.”

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP