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Independent Voice

Two Hornets win individual accolades entering postseason

Mar 07, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Shaun Holkko, sports editor

Sac State guard Lianna Tillman drives down the lane past Weber State guard Kori Pentzer during a 74-64 loss to the Wildcats on Monday, March 7 at the Big Sky Tournament in Boise, Idaho. Photo credit: Brooks Nuanez - Skyline Sports,

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - History continues to be made at Sacramento State under first-year head coach Mark Campbell as two women’s basketball players have earned individual Big Sky Conference honors.

Graduate transfer guard Lianna Tillman and sophomore center Isnelle Natabou were both recognized Monday for their achievements during the 2021-22 regular season.

Since arriving as a graduate transfer from the University of the Pacific, there has been little doubt that Tillman is the most valuable Hornet. Now 28 games later, Tillman has been acknowledged by the rest of the conference as the Big Sky Most Valuable Player.

The 5’9 guard from Lincoln High School in Stockton is the first player in program history to earn the award. Tillman is a bucket getter. Regardless of if she’s scoring herself or finding an open teammate, the numbers don’t lie. The graduate transfer led the Big Sky in points (20.3 PPG) and assists (6.2 APG) this season.

Tillman ranks 17th nationally in points per game and 10th in assists per game. She is also one of only two NCAA Division I women’s basketball players to average at least 18 points and six assists per game along with University of Iowa star Caitlin Clark who ranks first nationally in points and assists per game.

Natabou made quite the impression in her first season playing Division I, unanimously being named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year. The 6’5 sophomore is the second player in school history to win the award, alongside Kim Sheehy in 2004-05.

She led the conference in rebounding (11.1 RPG) and field goal percentage (.639) while being sixth in scoring (14.6 PPG). However, that’s not all. Nationally, Natabou ranks 18th in total rebounds per game, 10th in offensive rebounds (4.3 ORPG) and fourth in field goal percentage.

The individual awards for Tillman and Natabou continued with the All-Big Sky Conference selections. Tillman was unanimously selected to the first team and Natabou was chosen to the second team.

The Hornets, led by Tillman and Natabou, start the postseason tonight as the Big Sky Tournament gets underway in Boise, Idaho. Sac State (14-15, 10-10 Big Sky) is the seventh seed and will take on 10th seed Weber State (10-19, 6-14) at 4:30 P.M. The Wildcats swept the season series and have won four in a row against the Hornets.

Tillman has averaged 26 points and seven assists per game against Weber State this season. However, the Wildcats have stifled Natabou, holding her to 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The winner will play second-seeded Montana State (19-12, 14-6) on Tuesday at 4:30 P.M.

With a win against Weber State, Sac State will tie the record for the best year-to-year improvement by any team currently in the Big Sky. If the Hornets can also beat the Bobcats on Tuesday, the record will be theirs.