Las Vegas, Nev. - Nyre Harris hit two free throws with four seconds left to secure a 99-97 win for the San José State women's basketball team over the UNLV Rebels on Friday night in both team's Mountain West Conference regular season finale.
"Those were the biggest free throws I've made in my college career," Harris said. "In the huddle (before I went to the line) Coach (Craighead) told the team `after we make these two free throws...' I tried to ignore the `make' aspect of what she said. In my mind, I was thinking `there are five minutes left and these are no big deal.' My first shot rattled around the rim and I was saying to myself `please go in!' It did and I calmed down and hit the second one. It's great to be able to close out a game from the line, because my (free throw) percentage isn't great."
The game had several notable aspects to it chief among them was Ta'Rea Cunnigan's team-high 28 points. Cunnigan came into the game with 1,977 career points and finished with 2,005. She is the only Spartan, men or women's player, to pass 1,800, then 1,900 and now 2,000 career-points. Cunnigan was an efficient 10-for-17 from the floor including 4-for-6 from three-point range. She also went 4-for-4 from the line and in doing so passed Cricket Williams for the school's career record for free throw attempts. Cunnigan has attempted 734 free throws in her four-year career and made 534, also the most in school history.
Not to be outdone, Rebecca Woodberry buried eight three's to tie Gretchen Seeley's program record for three-pointers in a game, which was set against Long Beach State in the 1993-94 season. Her eight treys ties a record for most three-point field goals in a Mountain West game. Woodberry finished with 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting, 8-for-14 from beyond the arc, and grabbed six rebounds.
As a team the Spartans hit 19-of 37 three-pointers on the night. Nineteen threes shatters the team record of 14, set against Georgia State last season, and is the second most ever in a Mountain West game.
The win secures the eighth seed in next week's Mountain West Tournament and improves San Jose State's record to 13-16 overall, 7-11 in conference games. The 13 wins are the most since the 2005-06 team finished its season 13-15.
The Spartans shot 49 percent from the floor (34-for-69) and 51 percent (19-for-37) from beyond the arc. In addition, they made 12-of-15 from the charity stripe.
"This was probably the best shooting night we've had in my two years here," said head coach Jamie Craighead. "Two seniors (Cunnigan and Woodberry) who wanted to get a win and ruin someone else's Senior Night led us tonight. It's a great way to go into the conference tournament. If we can continue to shoot this way it bodes well for us. Ta'Rea stepped up and played really well and Becca shot the lights out. When those two play that way, it elevates everyone's game."
One player who elevated her game was point guard Aniya Baker. She was 6-for-9 from the floor, including 4-for-6 from three-point range and dished out five assists. How good was it for Baker, who finished with 17 points? With 4:47 to play she banked in a three from the top of the arc.
San Jose State held the lead for more than 28 minutes and built its largest advantage, 10 points, midway through the second half. UNLV (13-16, 10-8 MW) whittled the lead down and following a layup by Danielle Miller with 15 seconds to play tied the game 97-97.
"We tried to take this game 10 minutes at a time," Craighead said. "We had a couple of leads and they caught back up, but that's basketball. We fought through, made plays when we had to and made our free throws down the stretch.
Miller was one of four Rebels to score in double figures, led by Alana Cesarz game-high 32 points. Aley Rohde had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
The Spartans open the 2015 Mountain West Tournament on Monday against ninth-seed Utah State. Tip off in Thomas & Mack Center is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
"(Utah State) has a great point guard who really knows what works for their system and runs it very well," said Craighead. "They have size inside and can really rebound, so we have to keep them off the glass and we have to make them play at our tempo.
"I think we may be the most dangerous team going into the tournament, because you can slow down easily, but it's really hard for teams to speed up. This game was good for us. It was played at a pace that we like and we didn't press a lot. Offensively, when we are firing on all cylinders, we can be awfully dangerous."
San Jose State vs UNLV
03/06/15 5:00 P.M. at Cox Pavilion, (Las Vegas, Nev.)
At Cox Pavilion, (Las Vegas, Nev.)
SAN JOSE STATE 99, UNLV 97
SAN JOSE STATE (13-16, 7-11 MW)
UNLV (13-16, 10-8 MW)
CESARZ, Alana 13-23 3-5 32; MILLER, Danielle 7-14 3-5 21; ROHDE, Aley 7-9
2-3 16; WHEATLEY, Nikki 4-8 2-2 10; JOHNSON, Brooke 3-7 0-0 9; BARTEE,
Jazmyne 1-2 3-4 5; CHARLES, Briana 1-2 0-0 2; CALLAWAY, Amie 1-5 0-0 2;
MAJOR, Diamond 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-70 13-19 97.
San Jose State................ 53 46 - 99
UNLV.......................... 49 48 - 97
3-point goals--San Jose State 19-37 (Woodberry, Rebecca 8-14; CUNNIGAN,
JOHNSON, Brooke 3-5; CESARZ, Alana 3-8). Fouled out--San Jose State-BYRD,
Riana, UNLV-None. Rebounds--San Jose State 27 (Smith, Jasmine 10), UNLV 46
(ROHDE, Aley 13). Assists--San Jose State 19 (Baker, Aniya 5), UNLV 25(WHEATLEY, Nikki 8). Total fouls--San Jose State 18, UNLV 16. Technical
fouls--San Jose State-None, UNLV-None. A-870