San Jose, Calif. -The San Jose State women's basketball team shot a season-best 71.4 percent in the second half and turned a one-point, 36-35 halftime lead, into a 27-point victory against the Air Force Falcons on Wednesday night in The Event Center.
The Spartans (8-6, 2-1 MW) hit 20-of-28 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc after intermission for their best 20 minute shooting performance of the year. This after they were just 13-of-41 (31 percent) and 4-of-18 from 3-point distance in the first half.
Three Spartans finished in double figures in the scoring column led by Ta'Rea Cunnigan's 21 points. In the game she became just the second Spartan women's basketball player to surpass 1,700 career-points. She sits at 1,714 points, 46 behind career-scoring leader Karen Mason (1,760 points).
San José State played tough man-to-man defense from the get go, but in the first half the Falcons were knocking down their shots. They made 54 percent (13-of-24) in the first 20 minutes, hit 5-of-6 three-pointers and got to the line eight times, making six.
"I was pretty happy with our effort in the first half," head coach Jamie Craighead said. "(Air Force) were hitting their shots, but you could see that they were getting tired and it was just a matter of time before the fatigue really set in."
The Spartans came out of the locker room in the second half and stayed in their man-to-man defense. The effects of the relentless defensive pressure and running showed on Air Force (1-13, 0-3 MW).
In the first four minutes of the half, the Falcons turned the ball over three times and made just two of their first nine shots. The Spartans took advantage out scored Air Force 14-5. They did it by taking the ball to the bucket and either making the layup, getting fouled and scoring from the line or kicking out for open 3-pointers which lead to a 50-40 advantage with 16 minutes left
"We had a size advantage and we used it in the second half," Byrd said. "That was the plan. To get to the rim and continue to apply pressure. We leaned on them all night and in the second half it payed off."
Just over four minutes later, with 11:32 to play, the 10-point advantage was pushed to 20. Riana Byrd had six of her 13 second-half points in the run. She finished the night with 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the line. The spurt was capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Emily Vann and Rachol West and San Jose State enjoyed a 68-48 lead.
A Byrd free throw with 6:21 to play gave the Spartans their largest lead of the game, 32 points at 84-52, and from their they cruised to the 27 point victory.
Air Force was led by an 18-point effort from Lindsey Lewis. Jimi Blagowsky had 16 and Cortney Porter added 10 points.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday when they host UNLV in a 1:00 p.m. tip off in The Event Center.
Air Force vs San Jose State
01/07/15 7:00 p.m. at San Jose, Calif. (The Event Center)
At San Jose, Calif. (The Event Center)
SAN JOSE STATE 91, AIR FORCE 64
AIR FORCE (1-13, 0-3 MW)
LEWIS, Lindsey 7-15 4-4 18; BLAGOWSKY, Jimi 6-13 1-2 16; PORTER, Cortney
5-11 0-0 10; GRAHAM, Sydney 2-3 0-2 6; BENNETT, Dee 2-8 1-2 5; PHILPOT,
Madeleine 2-4 0-0 4; BORNGESSER, Maggie 1-3 2-2 4; FALVEY, Sarah 0-2 1-2 1;
STIMELING, Lindsey 0-0 0-0 0; JOHNSON, Angela 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 9-14
SAN JOSE STATE (8-6, 2-1 MW)
0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-69 16-25 91.
Air Force..................... 35 29 - 64
San Jose State................ 36 55 - 91
3-point goals--Air Force 5-12 (BLAGOWSKY, Jimi 3-6; GRAHAM, Sydney 2-2;
PORTER, Cortney 0-4), San Jose State 9-24 (West, Rachol 3-8; WOODBERRY,
Jose State-None. Rebounds--Air Force 32 (BENNETT, Dee 7), San Jose State 43
Cortney 7), San Jose State 19 (West, Rachol 5). Total fouls--Air Force 17,
San Jose State 16. Technical fouls--Air Force-None, San Jose State-None.