Salt Lake City, Utah - The San José State women's basketball team had an 83-81 lead with eight seconds left in regulation, but saw the Utah Utes tie the game on the free throw line and then close it out overtime to send the Spartans to a 100-87 loss.
"To be honest the game was over in regulation," head coach Jamie Craighead said after the game. "Ta'Rea made a play, which should have given us the ball with a chance to run the clock out. We made a play on a ball that was loose in the air. That's what we coach and we executed it."
Trailing 79-73 with 1:22 to play, Aniya Baker drained a 3-pointer to slice the Utes (1-0) lead in half. Utah scored on its next possession to push the advantage back to five, 81-76 with 74 seconds left.
The Spartans then forced turnovers on each of the Utes next three possessions and on the offensive end made them payoff with a 7-0 run. Rebecca Woodberry, who finished the game with a career-high 30 points, hit a 3-pointer and then a pair of free throws with eight seconds to play to give San José State (0-1) an 83-81 lead.
On the ensuing inbound play, Ta'Rea Cunnigan and Utah's Taryn Wicijowski both went for an errant Utah pass. Cunnigan came away with the loose ball, but was whistled for a foul. Wicijowski sank two free throws to tie the game at 83-83.
The Spartans had one more chance in regulation, but a Baker three was off the mark with four seconds left.
"(That call) really deflated us," Craighead said, "and they came out in the overtime and just smoked us." Utah outscored the Spartans 17-4 in the overtime and won 110-87.
"I was happy with the way we battled," Craighead added. "We were down 31-17 in the first half A year ago we would have let it get to 51-17 and essentially said `we don't want to play anymore.' So to come in to a Pac-12 arena, a tough place to play, I was happy with the way we battled back. We just have to get better."
San José State missed its first seven shots from the field and trailed 12-3 before Woodberry hit the first of her five 3-pointers of the night. But the Spartans continued to struggle from the floor and trailed 33-18 with six minutes left in the half. They closed the first 20 minutes with a 25-9 run and took a 43-42 lead into the locker room.
The teams traded the lead 10 times in the second half. Utah had the biggest lead of the second half at 79-73 with 1:22 to play.
In addition to Woodberry, three other Spartans scored in double figures. Cunnigan finished with 18 points and, on a pair of free throws, passed the career 1,500-point milestone early in the game. Baker and freshman Myzhanique Ladd each had 15 points.
"MyMy (Myzhanique) will get it very quickly," Craighead said. "She just needs a couple of games to get acclimated to the play at this level. As she becomes more comfortable we'll see her game continue to rise. She is smart and has all the athleticism she needs. Its just figuring out how to play all out every minute you're out there. Tonight she made a good step forward."
The Spartans forced 24 turnovers while committing only eight of their own and enjoyed a 26-2 advantage in points off those turnovers, but were dominated on the boards 63-32 and were outscored 48-22 in the paint and 14-5 in second chance points.
"We have to completely commit to our defense and it will work," Craighead said. "At times we did and we forced the pace of play, but then it looked like we were afraid and didn't trust the press. We didn't pressure the ball enough and (Utah) needed to be pressured. Whenever we let them get across half court without any pressure they ate us alive inside. Were not big enough to allow that to happen. We weren't fronting their bigs enough and they made us pay, especially in the overtime."
The Spartans home opener is Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in The Event Center. San José State hosts Columbia in the second game of a doubleheader with the men's team.
San Jose State vs Utah
11/14/14 5 p.m. at Salt Lake City, Utah (Huntsman Center)
At Salt Lake City, Utah (Huntsman Center)
UTAH 100, SAN JOSE STATE 87
SAN JOSE STATE (0-1)
0. Totals 23-72 30-41 87.
Wicijowski, Taryn 15-23 6-7 36; Nawahine, Malia 7-18 0-0 17; Fatuesi,
Joeseta 5-7 3-5 14; Wilson, Cheyenne 3-7 2-5 11; Owens, Devri 2-3 1-1 6;
Boclair, Tanaeya 2-2 2-4 6; Arquette, Nakia 2-5 0-0 4; Rodriguez, Danielle
1-5 0-0 3; Crozon, Paige 1-4 0-0 3; Bowie, Gabrielle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-74
San Jose State................ 43 40 4 - 87
Utah.......................... 42 41 17 - 100
Emily 0-1; Thomas, Chereese 0-1), Utah 10-23 (Nawahine, Malia 3-9; Wilson,
Cheyenne 3-6; Rodriguez, Danielle 1-2; Fatuesi, Joeseta 1-3; Owens, Devri
1-1; Crozon, Paige 1-2). Fouled out--San Jose State-None, Utah-Nawahine,
Malia; Owens, Devri; Crozon, Paige. Rebounds--San Jose State 32 (WOODBERRY,
Rebecca 8), Utah 63 (Wicijowski, Taryn 19). Assists--San Jose State 7
(Baker, Aniya 3), Utah 24 (Owens, Devri 8). Total fouls--San Jose State 25,
Utah 28. Technical fouls--San Jose State-None, Utah-None. A-694