Berkeley, Calif. - The San José State women's basketball team enjoyed its best night of shooting, knocking down 30 of 66 shots for 46 percent, and defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats in the consolation final of the 2014 Cal Classic on Saturday night in Haas Pavilion.
"Our defensive pressure set the tempo for us tonight," said head coach Jamie Craighead. "I felt we got them to play faster than they wanted to and did a decent job defensively in the first half. We didn't get to (Cincinnati guard Ana Owens, who led all scorers with 22 points) quick enough but everyone else we did. We shut down the paint and made them shoot from the outside."
San José State (3-3) got points from each of its 11 players led by 13 from Ta'Rea Cunnigan. Jasmine Smith and Rebecca Woodberry had nine apiece and Riana Byrd reached season-highs with 11 points and nine rebounds.
"We really need Riana to get going," said Craighead. "We need her and Jasmine (Smith) and Emily (Vann, who combined for five rebounds) to all play well and rebound for us. At times one is playing well, but the others aren't. Tonight it needed it from Riana and she really showed what she is capable of doing in this offense and on the boards. We need her to bring that every night and give us consistent rebounding every time she steps on the court. She is the stopper and the backbone of our defense."
Smith, who scored 19 points against Cal on Friday, was named to the Cal Classic All-Tournament Team. In two games she averaged 14 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and 6-of-9 from the line and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Bearcats (1-4) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first minute. San José State then forced three turnovers in a six-minute span, outscored Cincinnati 20-5 and took a 20-10 lead inside 13 minutes to go in the first half. The team's biggest lead of the first 20 minutes was 15 points at 29-14 with 8:18 to go and they took a 44-34 advantage into the intermission.
Cincinnati opened the second half with an 8-1 run to trim the Spartans lead to 45-42. San José State responded with a 10-0 spurt of its own to push its advantage back to double digits and from there cruised to the 25-point win.
After each of its three losses this season the Spartans have bounced back with a victory, two of those, including the game versus Cincinnati, have been on the road.
"I'm happy with the way we've responded after each loss," said Craighead. "It's a sign of maturity for us and it's a lot different than what we would have done a year ago. I'm really proud because it appears that we are taking a step forward in our program.
"I think we are starting to understand why we do what we do and how we do it. Sometimes we are going to make teams play faster than they want to. Sometimes teams are going to make a lot shots and both teams are going to score a lot of points. The important thing is that we continue to play our game. "
For the first time this year the San José State won the battle of the boards 39-38. The team forced 24 turnovers and converted them into 25 points while scoring 79 on 66 shots.
"Its funny," said Craighead. "This is the game where we got the least amount of shots, but we hit them. I want to see our shot total in the 90s. I thought we could've done more, but we came out and hit shots and we got the split on the road. That's one of the things we talk about. We want to get splits on the road. Tonight we beat a good team that was able to get up and down a bit, so it was a good win for us.
The Spartans next opponent is Southern Oregon on Tuesday, December 2 in The Event Center. Tip off on Walt McPerson Court is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Cincinnati vs San Jose State
11/29/14 5 pm at Berkeley, CA (Haas Pavilion)
At Berkeley, CA (Haas Pavilion)
SAN JOSE STATE 79, CINCINNATI 54
OWENS, Ana 7-12 5-6 22; WHITFIELD, Jasmine 3-10 2-3 10; TARVER, Brandey 4-14
0-0 8; HILL, Marley 3-6 0-2 6; CANN, Makenzie 1-5 0-0 3; QUISENBERRY, Bianca
1-6 0-0 3; JAMISON, Chelsea 1-4 0-0 2; NICKENS, Ashley 0-0 0-0 0; CHANDLER,
Shelbi 0-0 0-0 0; HUNTER, Trinity 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 7-11 54.
SAN JOSE STATE (3-3)
Cincinnati.................... 34 20 - 54
San Jose State................ 44 35 - 79
3-point goals--Cincinnati 7-22 (OWENS, Ana 3-7; WHITFIELD, Jasmine 2-6;
QUISENBERRY, Bianca 1-3; CANN, Makenzie 1-5; TARVER, Brandey 0-1), San Jose
0-1). Fouled out--Cincinnati-None, San Jose State-None. Rebounds--Cincinnati
38 (HILL, Marley 8), San Jose State 39 (Byrd, Riana 9). Assists--Cincinnati
10 (OWENS, Ana 3; CANN, Makenzie 3), San Jose State 15 (Thomas, Chereese 5).
Total fouls--Cincinnati 16, San Jose State 13. Technical
fouls--Cincinnati-None, San Jose State-None.