Reno, Nev. - With an 86-79 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack in the Lawlor Event Center, the San Jose State women's basketball team (8-12, 3-2 WAC) ended a six-year, 44-game Western Athletic Conference (WAC) road losing streak.
The Spartans continue to rack up firsts in head coach Tim La Kose's first season leading the team. In 20 games this year, San Jose State had already racked up more wins than in any single season since 2005-06 and its three WAC wins are already the most since the 2006-07 team got four.
"I was happy to see us respond after a disappointing game at Fresno State," head coach Tim La Kose said. "To rally and close this road win out is important because we want to stay in the hunt in the WAC.
The fact that it is the first win in a long time shows that this is a stepping stone for us as a program and that we are progressing."
Ta'Rea Cunnigan, the top freshman scorer in the WAC, had a season-high 21 points, eclipsing her previous high of 17 points, while knocking down all eight of her free throws.
Myesha Broaden, the only member of the team who has played in each of the last four seasons, had her third double double of the season, 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
"This win feels really good," Broaden said. "We are starting to show teams that we can win anywhere, on the road or at home. Every game I am getting more and more confident and I think that is showing in the stats. It all starts in practice. The coaches have been encouraging me to get more involved in the offense. The more I can force the defense to have to cover me the more it opens things up for everyone else."
Brittany Johnson, the leading scorer in the WAC and the 28th leading scorer in the nation, had a career-high 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting and 8-of-9 from the line. It is the first time a Spartan has scored 30 or more points in a game since Lamisha Augustine hit for 35 against Colorado State on December 10, 2005.
"We didn't play up to our expectation in Fresno on Thursday night," Johnson said. "We needed to get this win to build on our confidence. Personally, I was looking for some redemption after the Fresno loss. Today I was looking to score. Coach Mandi (Carver) told me that they would have trouble stopping us inside, so we kept attacking and scoring and got an important win."
The Spartans dominated the paint, outscoring the Wolf Pack 46-to-26 on their way to outshooting Nevada 50.8 percent (30-of-59) to 36.5 percent (27-of 74) from the floor.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the first three minutes, but a Johnson layup and Sara Plavljanin 3-pointer tied it up with just over 15 minutes to play. The game was tied again at 11-11 with 13:33 to play.
The Spartans then went on a 6-to-0 run, and never trailed again.
They had their largest first-half lead 29-20 with 5:08 to play. Nevada (5-15, 1-4 WAC) chipped away at the advantage and got it down to one point, 33-32 before a Johnson layup with 28 seconds to go sent the teams to the locker room with the score 35-32. San Jose State shot 48.4 percent (15-of-31) led by 14 points by Johnson.
In the second half, San Jose State pushed its lead to 11 points on a Broaden layup with just over 11 minutes to play and maintained its double-digit advantage until a pair of Kate Kevorken free throws at the 7:31 mark cut it to nine. Kevorken, who would finish the game with a team-high 25 points for the Wolf Pack, scored eight of her team's next 15 points as part of a 15-to-7 run which cut the Spartans lead to one point 74-73 with 3:06 to play.
The Spartans hit 8-of-10 free throws in the last minute and 13 seconds to secure the 86-79 win.
"I thought our inside play was one of the keys to the win," La Kose said. "They were without one of their big players (Kayla Williams) and scoring inside is one of our strengths so that combination bode well for us coming in. The whole team was determined and responded when Nevada cut the lead down in the second half. Even though we won, we didn't play our best. But winning that way, give us a lot of confidence moving forward."
Plavljanin also scored in double figures for San Jose State with 12 points.
Nevada's Emily Burns had a 10-point, 12-rebound double double and Chanelle Brennan added 14 points in the loss.
San Jose State continues WAC play on Thursday, February 2, when they host the Utah State Aggies in The Event Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.